My Uber driver, David, in the black Jeep Patriot, was ten minutes late picking me up for work. I spent those ten minutes stewing on my front stoop, all set to give this guy a 2-star review and no tip. But when he finally showed up, he immediately launched into this long stream of good-natured hokum and good ol’ boy commiseration and bafflingly personal vignettes from his life. Before I even realized it, I had forgotten to be mad at David entirely.
It’s possible this is an intentional strategy David has developed in order to disarm the many unpleasant customers he has to drive around all day, but I think the more likely case is that David is just insane, plain and simple. Not in any sort of criminal way, simply the standard garden variety insanity that is so common in people now. People—and I mean even absolute strangers—they’ll just talk and talk and talk and they expect you to listen to their whole life story.
Have you ever experienced this? Do you know what I mean?
All I told David was that I had a meeting with a client and that I wasn’t looking forward to it. It was all he needed. David immediately launched into this whole crazy tale about how he had to meet with his son’s teacher a few weeks back, and how the teacher started out almost imperceptibly discourteous, then became unmistakably rude, and finally went so far as to call David’s son “more useless than a goddamn piece of shit on the floor!” right to David’s face.
Well, this caused David to get pretty damn pissed off. He was so pissed off that he reached right across the table, grabbed the offending teacher by the lapels, lifted him six inches off the ground, and said, “Buddy, you insult my son one more time and you’ll be walking out of here in a body bag.”
You should have seen this teacher, David said. “The guy practically pissed his khakis.”
David said the teacher tried to fight him back, but he could only flail his limp ineffectual teacher arms. He said the teacher tried to implore the other parents to help him but too bad—all the other parents were on David’s side. He said the teacher threatened to call security on David, but David just laughed in his face.
“Go ahead,” David said he said. “Do it.”
I have never before heard of a teacher threatening to “call security” on anyone. I have only heard people say things like that in movies. I suspect David has heard this kind of thing in movies too.
He told me other stories over the course of my short ride to work. He told me:
The Story of the Rude Guy in Walmart
The Story of the Goddamn Scam Callers
The Story of the Liberal at the Grocery Store
The Story of the Asshole Boss
The Story of the Idiot Nephew
The Story of the Cop Who Didn’t Know His Ass From His Elbow
He told me all these different stories from his life, and all the stories were the same. They were stories of justice. They were stories of personal honor. They were stories of one brave man standing up for what was right in a world gone terribly, terribly wrong. David, when he was not driving for Uber, was engaged in an eternal war against the world’s sons-of-bitches, never stepping down from an opportunity to chew them out, or dress them down, or (if it really came down to it) physically assault them.
I think the work must have driven him crazy. Clearly none of what David had told me was true. But I could imagine his long days of driving from one strip mall turnpike to the next, mumbling to himself, cursing under his breath, endlessly amending the injustices of daily living, internally engineering better timelines in which he told the phantoms of his past just exactly where they could stuff it, dreaming up all these beautiful worlds in which he was not constantly run roughshod by the unrelenting machinations of life.
By the time David dropped me off, I didn’t care that I was ten minutes late. I didn’t care that I was on the wrong side of the street. I just said, “So long, David! Thanks for the ride!” and David said, “No problem!” and “See ya ’round buddy!” and then drove off haltingly over the horizon.
There was something heroic about David, even if he was completely full of shit.
My client, Mr. Graham, was waiting for me in the conference room. I apologized for being late, but he wasn’t having any of it. He was just standing there with his arms crossed and this nasty look on his face. He said it was completely unacceptable to keep him waiting like this. He said he was the CEO of a major corporation. He said he wasn’t in the habit of having his time wasted and blah blah this and blah blah that. I didn’t care. I just looked at him, chuckling. I let him go on like that for fifteen damn minutes.
Once he was done carrying on I just said, “You finished, Mr. Bigshot?” You should have seen his face after that. There was practically steam coming out of his ears. “You little jerk!” he said. “You can’t talk to me like that! I’m the customer! Don’t you know the customer is always right!?”
I said, “You may be the customer, but you’re about as wrong as lipstick on a pig.”
He started sputtering and spitting and his eyes went all crossed. He pointed his big fat finger right in my face and screamed, “DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO I AM???”
I said I didn’t care who he was.
I said I didn’t care if he was Jesus or Gandhi or the damn king of France.
I said I didn’t take shit from anybody.
That’s what I told him.