Tales from the Backseat- Driving the Drunk
In the late hours of the night and in the wee hours of the morning, I prowl the streets of Atlanta seeking out those in need of transportation. I am there for the buoyant tourist, the inebriated party goer, the early rising worker, and the wide eyed student. I provide them safe passage to their destinations. Like the barkeep of days gone by, I bear witness to the unique stories each of them tells and sometimes I might even advise them. I am an uber driver that enjoys uplyfting experiences each time I sit behind the wheel. These are my tales from the backseat. Next Week: Scents and Sensitivity-Eau de Uber
Journal Entry 1
I knew when I began driving that I would encounter people who had a few too many. It is one of the great gifts of this amazing system. Less people drive drunk.
As a matter of fact, one of my first passengers was a tipsy fellow who had a little too much at lunchtime and needed a ride to his house a few miles away. He just rambled on about his busy day being cut short and how he hoped his wife wasn’t home.
I was not as prepared, however, for my first real introduction to drunk passengers as I thought I would be. It was Cinco De Mayo, that holiday where suddenly everybody in the city suddenly becomes Latino and wildly celebrates a minor victory of the Mexican army over French oppressors.
My first pickup was at a bar in Buckhead where four young moms hopped into the car. They had been out celebrating an evening without their husbands or kids. As it turns out they all live on a gated street of about ten homes, like the old Dallas spinoff Knott’s Landing.
I was on the highway driving them out to the burbs when a request came from the backseat that I stop the car. “Miss, I am in the middle of I-285. It might be a challenge” The sound of her pleading voice convinced me that I needed to pull over to an exit island where she proceeded to heave ho on the highway.
I was prepared with water, a plastic bag, and some baby wipes which came in very handy. Her friends comforted their wasted friend by congratulating her on being able to drink as much as she wanted; apparently she was the only mom not going to work in the morning.
When things returned to normal, one of the young ladies turned to me and said “I always worry that the Uber driver could be on the creepy side but you were great. You must be an amazing dad.” (I am.)
I turned around and headed back to the bars on Roswell Boulevard where all hell had broken loose. Viva la Revolution. My next stop was a bar where Gil had called from. After arriving and messaging Gil, I got a call. “Where are you, uber guy?” and then he hung up. Before I could call back, the phone rang again, “Where are you uber guy?” And then hung up again. On the third call, I jumped in and said, “GIL, I AM HERE. Where are you? “
“I am standing in the middle of the road and I’m dancing.” And sure enough there was Gil dancing by the side of my car. “Mr. Gil,” I said,” If you would stop twirling for just a moment you would see me waving from the car right beside you.
Gil and his buddy stumbled into the car. As it turns out, Gil was from the fine country of Liechtenstein and had much to say about his postage stamp sized nation. He and his pal were Georgia Tech students and they certainly made their university proud that night as they yelled out the window at passing women.
At 2:00 am, I was ready to call it a night when I got a ping from Johnny’s Hideaway- a dance club on Roswell Road. The young lady called me and shared that she only had 2% left on her phone and to please not abandon her. I pulled up to Johnny’s and waited and waited (we do a lot of that). After ten minutes, she stumbled out and quickly got in the car. “Hurry, please leave. This really horrible guy has been following me.”
“Where to?” I asked trying to take control. “I don’t know. It’s in Cobb County,” she slurred. And so we began a game of twenty questions until I finally deduced she was saying at a Sheraton off of Windy Hill. She was visiting from Alabama and was here for training. Her story rambled on and she continued to thank me as her knight in shining Subaru armor.
I had just pulled up to the hotel when she shouted, “Oh my god, this is not where I am staying.” I looked at her and calmly said, “Yes it is, Allison.” She stared out the window. “OMG you’re right.”
The Wrap Up
There are times when you have to suspend your judgement of people and just be there to help. People drink in excess for many reasons. And some folks do a great job of embarrassing themselves. And it is at such times, when I realize that I am doing more than transporting people; I am keeping them safe. There is something to be said about the kindness of strangers, especially the strangers who are sober.
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Next Week: Scents and Sensitivity-Eau de Uber