Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Uber Ride

I found myself sitting in the back of a huge black car.  The shocks almost completely gone, the car slowly rose and fell like we were on a ship.  We wove through traffic at a speed well above the other cars surrounding us in the heavy San Francisco traffic.  Reggaetron crushed my head at a volume that might not have been appropriate in most nightclubs.  My Jamaican uber driver Elliot sang along at full volume to a song called “Brown Skin”, sometimes hitting the chorus or bridge a measure in front of the track.  We shot across three lanes as he scrolled through his phone for other tracks.  “yeah mon… we got to get you into this next thing mon”  He was staring down at the smart phone as traffic was slamming to sudden stop in front of us.  Brooooooowwwwwwnnnnn Skiiiinnnnnnnnn…..

I wasn’t nervous.  Yes, in theory we were hurtling towards stopped traffic in a steel coffin with no one driving.  Yet, Elliot had the feel of a real professional, a man that had been involved in more dodgy situations than most of us could even imagine.  This is a man that can find things… get things done…  There are resources like this in most cities.  Today’s uber driver is yesteryear’s concierge.  I liked Elliot.  We conversed about our worlds and the inevitable glory of jerk spices.  The car floated around the highway.  Elliot had the whole hazy Jamaican philosophical rap down.  I have always liked the vague ideas they have that really seem to exist only to justify complete inaction mixed with lots of weed and the hippie cosmos vibe.  “Yes mon, when you put out that energy it come back to you.  You can wish for whatever you want mon but you get coming what you get coming.”  He smiled turning his head away from the road right back to me in the back seat as Sizzla’s “Just Fine” exploded from the speakers.  He turned his attention to the road when disaster appeared unavoidable.  We suddenly veered across two lanes to the right, narrowly missing a semi.  Traffic slowed to a crawl. 

I guess I shouldn’t have remarked about traffic being so light, huh Elliot?  “Hey mon…  The universe know what you say and answer you.  It tell you that you have no control.  You must just take what is.  You cannot change it.”  So Elliot, you mean that it’s all fate?  Like if I saw you didn’t see that traffic stopped and I yelled out it wouldn’t make a difference?  Or let’s say if I know someone is in trouble, I can’t help them?     

“yeah mon…  you got to help the people when you can.  You know the way it tis mon.  Sometimes you want help the people but they cannot be helped.  They not ready.  It’s OK.  It all comes to you.  There’s nothing you can do.  It going to happen.  I see people get down.  Why get down?  There’s no reason to ever be down mon.  You got no control anyway.”  He smiled again and sang the last chorus of “Just Fine”.  Stephan “Ragga” Marley’s “Rock Stone” announced itself with a crisp reggae snare crack before descending into the familiar rhythm.  The whole car shook as Ragga started sing/rapping about something quite urgently.  I had no fucking clue what he was saying.  We slowly approached flashing police lights, a tanker semi, and a fire truck.  Traffic slowed to an absolute crawl to take in the scene.

I yelled above the music.  Elliot, if I see a fire truck and a fuel truck together, I’m not slowing down to look at it.  I’m trying to get away as fast as possible.  “Hehehe… you got that mon!”  We passed the traffic slowdown and Elliot immediately punched the mushy car radically across four lanes to the left.  I felt myself get pushed back in the soft seat.  Ragga Marley’s urgent delivery countered with the steady island rhythm.  We were in the far left lane a mere quarter mile from the airport off ramp in thick traffic.  At first I wondered if he remembered the end destination but then it dawned on me to sit back and enjoy the inevitable Steve McQueen driving maneuver to come.

I would describe the look on the face of the Japanese woman driving the Toyota Corolla to our right as “surprised” when our massive American car lurched across her lane 6 inches in front of her hood, pausing briefly in front of her before finally accelerating in a tiny space between two dump trucks on the far right off ramp.  There was no way she could have expected this enormous car to just dart in front of her, pause for a moment, and when all hope seem lost, jerk to the right in an impossibly small space.  It was a quite impressive feat had we been in a Porsche 911 on good tires.  In the giant black car with undoubtedly terrible tires and no shocks it was downright heroic.  “All right mon”  Elliot smiled.  Ragga Marley kept yelling about something.  I think I heard a "Jah" reference.  

We leaned into the curve lazily as the “duh-duh-dah-dah” reggae provided the perfect backdrop.  We shot between two vans and came to a sudden stop at the curb at Terminal 3.  “OK mon.  You got to travel safe.”  I’ll try Elliot but I guess it’s not up to me.  “Now you got it mon!  Hey mon, where you going?”  Ohio.  “The ganja legal there yet?”  Medical is but not recreational.  “It will be mon.  It will be.”  I grabbed my suitcase and stepped towards the terminal.  “Hey mon!”  Elliot leaned over and we bumped fists.  “You take it easy.”

So I did.         



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