We Shall Overcomb

Trump’s inauguration was difficult.  For a lot of us, it was hard to believe in a lot of ways and for a lot of reasons, and everyone processes that differently.  My grief process (yes, that is grief!) is longer than most, so it took me a long time to stop being upset and turn that into power.  The gloomy morning of the actual ceremony, I woke up and saw all the news alerts on my phone and with tears welling in my eyes, I literally pulled the covers over my head like one of those cringeworthy sitcom-y trite Meg Ryan rom-com moments.

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I eventually remembered that I needed to go to work, and if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have money.  And without money, I couldn’t pay rent.  And without paying rent, I would be homeless.  I’m not letting our new leader make me homeless on his first day in office!

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So I pulled it together, showered and got dressed, and got started for the day.  My first trip was an older Hispanic guy who barely spoke English, but voted for Trump and wanted to talk about it.  At this point, I think I’m well within my rights to tell him he’s a fucking idiot for voting against his own interests.

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Let’s do this.  I told him, “He’s a horrible human being, but I’m not really truly worried deep down.  He’s not going to be President for long.  Not that we want Mike Pence, the Devil’s closeted little brother.  But at the very least, he is simply only terrible, disgusting, bigoted bad policy.  He’s not a combination of that and an irresponsible child who would get a tweet from Justin Bieber and say, ‘Let’s nuke Canada!'”

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The guy in the back seat scrunches up his face, confused at the reference.  “Who?” he asks.  I’m exasperated and angry at this point and my mouth can hardly keep up with my brain as I’m reading this guy his rights.  “Justin Bieber!  It doesn’t fucking matter, it could be fucking anybody!”

That’s when the guy looks a little closer at me, narrowing his eyes.  “No, the other guy.”

“Wait, wait.  You fucking voted for Trump and you don’t know who Mike Pence is?  This conversation is over.”

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The guy gets out of the car, and I’m amazed, bewildered, saddened, and hopeless as to how stupid our society has become.  I hold back a tear and decide that I’m just going to be a driver today – nothing more, nothing less.  No conversations, just confirming names and destinations, and telling them I hope they have a good day (or at least a better day than mine).

I pick up the next passenger and it’s a woman headed to the airport.  I confirm her name, help with luggage (grrr…), confirm her destination and off we go!  A minute or so in, she seems eager to chat, so she gets started.  “I’m excited to fly today!  I haven’t been to Washington, DC in a long time.”

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I don’t say anything, but she continues.  “Thankfully, I won’t be there for the inauguration.  You couldn’t pay me to sit there through that fucking shit show.”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as if to say, “You’re one of the good ones!” and told her about our clueless friend from the previous ride.

“Yeah, I’m actually meeting up with some old college friends and we are going to the Women’s March tomorrow.”

At this point, I had a laundry list to say to her:

  • Thank you for doing this.  It means everything.
  • Some people, like me, are too sad and emotionally exhausted to march.
  • Some people, like me, can’t even afford to take the day off.
  • Some people, like me, are worried about things getting violent at the march, like a counterprotester attacking.
  • But it means everything to know that there are people in cities across the country and even the world, standing up for the rights of the people who can’t stand on their own yet, be it out of fear, sadness, or finances.  And it’s beautiful to see neighbors in my own city doing it.

Now approximately 3-5 seconds into that speech, I start ugly crying.  I search for tissues in the glove compartment and apologize.  “I’m *sniff* so so *wahhhhh* sorrrrrrrryyyy.”

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The woman stops me, and puts her hand on my shoulder very firmly, and gives me the kindest and most empowering speech.

“Honey, first off.  Stop apologizing.  Don’t ever fucking apologize for your feelings.  Let it out.  Let it all out!  Listen, your head’s in the right place and so is your heart.  When your body’s ready, you’re gonna be out there marching with us.  In the meantime, do what you need to get by.  You’re helping in your own way by driving for Uber.”

Well if said that, it’d be a copout, but sure.  I’ll take it.

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“People need to get to these protests.  They need to get to the airport.  Without you, they can’t do that.  When you’re ready, I’ll see you out there.”

The next day, Los Angeles outgrossed the Women’s March in DC.  We had over 750,000 people in downtown LA showing their resistance.  It was another day filled with tears, but for the opposite reason.  It was the first day I’d felt hope in a long time.  I met strong women, beautiful immigrant families, and empowered LGBT people.  It was a beautiful day.

In LA, nobody meets their neighbors because if you want to borrow a cup of sugar from them, you have to hop on the 101 for two exits.  I had moved into this place several months earlier and had never seen any neighbors.  But this day, I saw people coming out in droves from the big buildings on my block with huge picket signs.  “Leave the pussy control 2 Prince!,” “This pussy grabs back,” and my personal favorite, “We shall overcomb.”

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It was a beautiful day that left me hopeful.

RIDESHARE TIP #45: If you’re political, know your audience.  And vote responsibly, you fucking idiot.

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Bucket List

Can you remember a time before cell phones?  All conversations you had were in the privacy of your own home, which posed a problem for some people after they made the switch.  For a while, you could be walking down the street and overhear someone’s private conversation about an STD or a cheating husband or their roommate’s incontinence.

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Eventually, people realized where to draw the line.  The next learning curve seems to be happening with the way people talk to an Uber or Lyft driver.  With taxi drivers, you often would never exchange a word with them unless you needed a recommendation in the city or wanted to know how long it would take to get to the airport the next day at 7pm.  Nowadays, when people use a rideshare service for the first time, they feel compelled to talk to the driver, sometimes with great self awareness and other times without it.

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But where does one draw the line between small talk and getting too personal?  Is it about sex?  Or money?  Is it religion?  All of these can cross a line, but these days, the biggest one seems to be politics.  Shocker!

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The week of the election, you know – THAT election, proved to be a difficult one for me.  I’m a Democrat, and I live in LA so it’s pretty easy to know my audience, and pretty easy for my customers to know theirs.  But it didn’t stop a lot of people that week from trying to get me to listen to their views on how we should give the new President a chance.

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So after a week of having some terrible people in and out of the car, I had had enough.  It was hard enough for me to simply go through life at that point, knowing the impending removal of the rights of myself and my friends.  But I reached a boiling point, where I was picking someone up at the airport and it was going to be my last ride of the day, no matter how far from home it would take me.

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So a woman gets in the car, and I’m downright miserable.  She’s alone, and needs help with her luggage, and I’m immediately thinking, of course she does!  Ugh!  I get out and help her, and she sweetly says, “Thanks.  Oh, I love your shoes!” and I angrily think, Yeah, me too, lady!  That’s why I bought them!  Ugh!  But within a few minutes, her kindness makes me realize I’m being a baby.  I need to open up and accept the positivity she’s putting out there.

So we start talking, and she says she’s never been to California before.  I immediately inquire as to what brought her here.  Work?  Vacation?  Family?  She tells me hesitantly that she’s done with work for a while and needs a vacation.  Don’t we all, honey.  It’s been a week.

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She tells me she’s from Arizona originally but has been traveling a lot for work for the past year, year and a half.  It’s kept her mainly in New York but she’s really been all over the place.

“What kind of work do you do?”

She pauses, with her eyes closed.  I wasn’t sure if she was in extreme pain, or was tired of explaining her job to people, or both, but she was bracing herself for something.

“I was a… campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.”

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I’m immediately both speechless and ugly crying.  I tried to get words out about how I wasn’t supposed to cry today and she said, “Listen, I’m there with you but I just don’t have any more tears to cry.  I’m hitting the reset button and then turning this into power and change.  In the meantime, I wanna see my family, I wanna see the ocean, and god damn it, I want to see a celebrity!”

I told her she’s got quite a lot of that accomplished already.  “You’re staying with family.  Check.  I don’t know if you know where they live, but they’ve done quite well for themselves.  Two blocks in from Ocean Avenue.  So, I think we can check the ocean off of your list too.  Celebrities are hard to spot in Santa Monica, though.  You usually have to go up to Malibu, but they’re hidden either in private beaches or in giant sunglasses and hats.  Take a day and head inland to Beverly Hills, you’ll see somebody.”

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We reach her destination and I get out to help her with luggage because, as you may remember, I am a nice person.  She gives me a huge hug and tells me we’re going to get through this together.  I’ll be honest, I needed that hug more than ever.

Just then I notice something in front of my car.  Someone is crossing the street to go into their car.  I recognize the woman immediately but play it coy.  I put my finger over my mouth so my customer would know to be quiet, and I motioned toward the woman in front of us, and she just couldn’t keep a secret.  She starts screaming, “JULIANNE MOORE!!! OMG!!!!  IT’S JULIANNE MOORE!!!”

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If it’s 1% of payback for all the hard work and heartbreak she’s gone through, she checked everything off of her vacation bucket list in the first hour after landing in LA.  I’m sure she’s turned that pain into power by now.  (For the record, I’m not there yet.)

RIDESHARE TIP #45: Be nice.  And keep your eyes peeled for celebs at alllllllllll times.