For those of you who missed my initial post on my new venture, here’s a brief recap. I signed up to be an Uber driver on Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, my application was approved. For some reason, I was not required to take the 70 question test before I was licensed to drive. Maybe they saw my two doctoral degrees and figured I’d never pass the darn thing. Who knows, but from what I could tell, my app was in order and I was set to go.
July 4 in Atlanta is the day of the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10k race (not the longest, the largest) with some 70,000 runners/walkers. It’s been an Atlanta tradition since 1970. I ran the race the year I got to Atlanta. The crowd is so massive it took me 48 minutes to get to the starting line and less time to run the thing. This year I decided to head downtown in my Uber X vehicle, now clean as a whistle, and see if I could pick up my first ride – someone who had run the race in the pouring down rain who needed a ride back home. I even brought some towels to make their ride home more comfortable (and keep my leather seats intact). I made it downtown quite quickly, but that’s where the problems began. The police and roadblocks were out in force and I couldn’t get closer than six blocks to where the runners finished. Who in their right mind was going to want to walk another quarter mile after running six?
I pulled over on the side of the road and told myself I’d wait 15 minutes for a call. And then it came. My Uber app began to beep wildly. I accepted the ride, and saw that Gabe was indeed about six blocks away. I found the place on the app (it is an amazing application) where I could call Gabe. When he answered, I told him I was his Uber driver and explained my predicament. Gabe sounded really nice. I was really looking forward to meeting him. I started to imagine what he looked like and how fast he ran the Road Race. I will give it to Gabe. He let me down easy. It was just too far to walk; he’d look for a ride on the other side of the Park and wished me a happy Fourth. My first Uber ride gone south. Maybe we will meet again.
By then I figured it had been enough excitement for the day, so I headed back north to my office to get a few things done. I did decide, though, to leave the Uber app online, indicating I was available for business. And then, literally a few yards from my office, it went off again. They say if you fall off the horse, you need to get back on again. This time the gentleman would be waiting for me outside an establishment called Lucky’s. I promise I’m not making this up. He got into the back seat and gave the address of his destination. I typed it into my iphone and saw the word Duluth come up. For those of you who don’t know the city, for someone who lives inside the perimeter, Duluth might as well be Minneapolis. I never travel that far outside the city. But to Duluth we were headed.
My ride was very quiet for the first ten or fifteen minutes and then he got on his cell phone. It sounded like he had taken a new job selling car financing and it also sounded like he was making a fortune. No wonder he could afford a ride all the way to Minneapolis. As we were arriving at his destination, he asked me what I was doing the rest of the day. I thought that was quite nice of him. I explained my tennis match was rained out, but that my wife and I were going to dinner later with friends. I asked him if he was from Duluth and that’s when the bomb dropped. No, he was from another small town. He had come to Oglethorpe to study business, but was now transferring to Georgia State. We talked about his favorite professors (it was clear by then he knew who I was) and he wished me a great day. I left the parking lot and started to laugh so hard that I had to pull the car over. Just my luck, my first ride and I picked up not just a student of mine, but one that was leaving to go to another institution. It’s a small damn town.
On the way back home, I picked up two more riders. Both women, both less well-off than my Oglethorpe friend, one headed to Quick Trip and the other to the Marta Station to go to work. The fares here were six and seven dollars respectively.
Day one is over and done with. Time to celebrate our Country’s birthday. Oglethorpe’s scholarship fund is now $31 richer. It was a good day.