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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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I almost never pick up at the airport.  “Why,” you ask?  Drivers often can wait for a long time to get a ride and it can be going a very short distance.  I once waited over two hours for a ride at LAX, only to have the passenger get in my car and head less than 2 miles from the airport itself.  I won’t lie to you, I cried in my car that day.  Then again, I cry in my car most days.

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Bigger than the risk of a short ride, is the wildcard of a very long ride… to the middle of nowhere.  While any rideshare trip can take you anywhere without you knowing it ahead of time, the airport is a true rolling of the dice.  Often times it takes you to Orange County, which is the kiss of death.  You can make a good 30-50 dollars on the way there, and then have to suck it up and drive the 60-90 minutes back to civilization in your car by yourself, burning both your gas and your time for nothing.

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But one morning recently I was dropping off at a hotel near the airport and they sent me a request inside the airport.  There was a surge happening, so I quickly thought to myself, “Hmm.  Even if it is going to the middle of nowhere, I stand to make pretty decent money off of it.  Let’s roll the goddamn dice.”  So I accept it, and drive into the airport.

An Asian woman gets in and says, “Please!  You have to hurry!”

Yes, this was the actual greeting that I received from a stranger who was getting into my car.

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So I politely said, “Sure, just let me start the trip and see where we’re going…”

“Please!  I have to teach a class!”

“Okayyyy…. Santa Barbara?  Really?”  Apparently she didn’t realize that she was at the airport, and that planes also go to Santa Barbara.

Now this is normally a 2.5+ hour ride, and Uber’s app is telling me about that much time, except it’s telling me to take the 101.  That would be perfectly fine, but this was literally a week after a deadly mudslide that killed over 20 people in the Santa Barbara area.  The 101 was shut down in that area, as were the surface level streets.  They were still doing search and rescue.

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I told her that I’m going to try my best to find a route here, but that Santa Barbara is sort of stranded at the moment.  They keep saying on NPR that people can’t get in or out for the meantime, and she says “No!  You have to take me!  I have to teach a class!”

Look, honey.  I’m not debating your need to be there.  I’m debating our ability to get there by car.

“I’m going to check a few different GPS apps, and in the meantime, you start looking up flights out of Burbank.  It’ll be faster and probably cheaper for you.”  Also, I hate you and want to drive the car into the ocean with the child locks on.  #worthit

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Uber’s app is telling me to take the 101, which is literally not an option (Glad I’m an informed citizen.  That would’ve been a fun thing to stumble upon two hours later, trying to do a U-turn on the standstill freeway).  I check the Waze app, and it literally tells me “No route available,” so I’m starting to sweat a little.  I download Google Maps and lo and behold, it’s found a route!

But instead of the usual 2 and a half hours, it’s a little more like…. 6 and a half hours.  I told her this and she said, “Please! Let’s go!”  Sure, you’re in a hurry.  But your trip just got four hours longer.  Who the fuck cares if we dawdle?

So we get started.  If you live in LA, I’ll speak your language for a sentence or two:  Instead of the 101, we took the 405 up to the 5, all the way up to the 166, 100 more miles till it hits the 101 then back down 60 miles until we reach Santa Barbara.  This is the equivalent of driving from Philadelphia to New York, but stopping through Chicago.

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Now, as hellishly long as this trip was, keep in mind that I have to take that same route back home.  So multiple my time by two.  I was praying that she would at least be chatty, considering that we’d be spending half her waking day together in the car.  But instead she laid down and went to sleep in the back seat.  So this solidifies my fate:  12-14 hours in my car, not talking, not engaging, not doing anything but silently driving.  Reeeeeeallllly getting to know myself.

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I dropped her off just over six hours later.  Less than a mile from the Santa Barbara airport.  Started crying.  Drove for seven more hours, crying several times, both out of exhaustion and existential questioning.  When I got home that night, I collapsed in bed and slept HARD.  It could’ve been emotional exhaustion, or a possible diabetic coma (I hadn’t eaten yet that day).  All I know is that for one very rare day, I made very good money in a day.  But my average was cut down because I slept the entire next day.

RIDESHARE TIP #451:  Airplanes are faster than cars!  I’ll see you in Hell.