New Year’s Eve 2020: I hit the road about five o’clock in the afternoon because that’s when the Uber driver incentives started (extra money given to drivers for completing so many consecutive rides). It was chilly if I remember correctly but clear so I had good driving conditions. It was steady till about eight o’clock when I took a break and had dinner at Jim’s on Broadway. Then I hit the road at nine and didn’t get home till about three-thirty in the morning. Everyone was really nice though and thanking me for picking them up (and keeping them out of the clink because the cops were crawling that night – I must have seen at least seven or eight pull-overs that night).
And after that, business was hot. Conventions, conferences, business travel, tourists, locals and the forecast for the next few months was looking really good. But in February the conventions and conferences got canceled and North Star Mall got a good deep cleaning because of a testing screwup and a woman who just had to go shopping.
In March, my Uber business crashed through the floor. I’d been through slow-downs before with this job but nothing like that. I couldn’t get a ride or a delivery to save my life some days because no one was working or getting paid. I seriously questioned my choice of job and my intelligence, and my sanity at times. Luckily in April Congress got off their dumb-asses and started getting money out there. I even got relief money because Uber’s CEO went to Congress and fought for us drivers because we were still working despite the risks we had to take.
Since then, it’s been a struggle. Business is inching back up but just inching. It’s still a struggle some days and I still haven’t really hit the numbers consistently like I did when this year began. It’s a hard hustle but harder than it has to be because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being an A-Number One Dick-Head along with all the other Republicans who honestly don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. It’s going to be a long, hard, cold winter before the adults get settled in to Washington and start cleaning up the mess from the last four years, and especially this past year. Also, we’ll have a lot more dead to bury.
Seeing the dead and the dying has been the hardest thing of this year. Seeing so damn many people hurting when they didn’t have to. Seeing and hearing so damn much bullshit from people who are the absolute dumbest motherfuckers on this planet has been hard as hell. What that did was burn away any last masks that people put over their real thoughts and feelings about their fellow human beings, when they showed they cared more about property and money than doing everything possible to ease pain and suffering. It was the last bit of proof I saw that too damn many people believe that suffering is justified.
Like millions of people, I’ve lived with fear. Fear of losing what little I have left, of getting sick and dying. But there is one fear I have begun to realize I have truly lost: the fear that someone will come at me for what I say and do. It’s why my attempts to create a freelance writing career have spluttered so badly- the fear that if I put forth an effort that someone will try and derail it hard.
That’s not going to happen. And not just because I won’t let it, but because that fear was never real. If someone does have an issue with what I say or do, they can put on their grown-up clothes and come talk to me about it. If they’re spouting bullshit that I don’t know what I’m doing or that I shouldn’t, I’m not going to listen to that shit and neither should anyone else. Over the last year I’ve thought this through and realized this fear that I’ve carried for so long never came to life.
So if the year 2020 taught me anything it was this: I lived through fear, and I lost the fear I really needed to lose most of all. I know I can’t let anxiety and fear take over like they have time and time again. I know I can’t discard my lists and plans and just let my heart race and do nothing. This isn’t suck-ass timing either or a time to debate and go ‘why now?’
Why the fuck not? That should be the new motto of 2021. Why not take the damn bull by the horns once and for all and rock hard? Why not park my ass in the chair and put hands on the keyboard no matter what? Those are questions only I can answer and things only I can do.
I just wish I’d gotten stoned at a rock concert to lose this last fear once and for all.* Oh well, pot’s still not legal in Texas so I had to do this sober. And I’ll greet the new year sober because I don’t drink or smoke. But I will also greet it without the fear that someone will mouth off and try to take away my goals and ambitions. And hopefully in one year’s time I’ll be writing this from inside of a small school bus in a place that’s warm and sunny.
* I got stoned at the Pink Floyd concert on March 3, 1994 because I was sitting one row from the top and during the second half of the show there was a huge cloud of pot smoke up there so unlike Bill Clinton, I inhaled quite a lot. I lost a fear of heights that night from being high and comfortably numb.