Uber Tales: The Subdued New Year’s Eve Edition


That is the word I would use to describe last night on the road. A year ago as we rang in 2020, on the road it anything but subdued. There were massive parties, gatherings, and fireworks galore. On the side of the town I was mostly in last night parking lots were mostly empty, a lot of restaurants closed before midnight, and the few places there were open after midnight weren’t nearly as full. This was a good thing as COVID-19 cases are surging pretty badly here in San Antonio. I hit my financial goals before two a.m. though I made about half of what I made last year.

But I did get my first ‘what’s said in my Uber, stays in my Uber’ bit that I haven’t had since all this crap began back in March:

I go to a pickup just after midnight and I get to the house and this guy walks out with this chick who takes a couple of selfies with him then gives him a kiss goodnight. Now she doesn’t come along with him but this dude starts telling me about her. He said he’s known her for about ten years and that she’s an actress (I’ve never heard of) and he was pretty blown away by how lovey-dovey she was with him. But then he started talking about how she’s out of his league and deflated his own happy bubble. I just listened because I really wanted to tell him if he had feelings for her and if they were both single then he should tell her he cares about her and would like to spend more time with her. Alas, like a good bartender or Uber driver, I kept that to myself.

Last night was the night for not giving relationship advice on my part because earlier in the evening I picked up this lady and after she got in and we got rolling, she called her boyfriend and based on her side of the conversation it didn’t sound like he was listening to her too well. I almost thought she was going to say that out loud but instead after she hung with him she said to me, “Boyfriends are such jerks.” I would like to have said if he’s that much of a jerk and won’t listen to you then why are you with him in the first place? Instead, she changed the subject and asked me about having cats as pets because her son was asking about a cat. I told her I’ve had cats all my life and they make great pets and are pretty low-maintenance for the most part. Unlike boyfriends…

Then just before midnight I picked up these three chicks from a place and they were really quiet in the car and when I dropped them off at another place, that place looked sad. Barely any cars in the lot and all I could think was that a year ago the parking lot would have been full and there would have been a line of people out the door. Just because I’m not a bar-hopper or bar-goer doesn’t mean I’ll poo-poo anyone who has done that. Bar-hopping was always good for my business.

The loss of money has been tough as hell but I also have missed the loss of energy. I miss my Saturday night conversations that sounded like a bad reality-tv show. I miss the ‘what’s said in my Uber, stays in my Uber’ conversations. And I miss sometimes actually being able to give advice when people come right out and ask for it. I miss seeing people out and about even if I’m just on the outside looking in.

I never really thought about the energy in my job as an Uber driver. For me, it was just a part of the job and a mostly pleasurable one at that, especially on Saturday nights. I got to live vicariously through my passengers and be grateful I got to do a job where I wasn’t chained to a desk getting my ear chewed off for eight hours day while supervised mostly by mediocre idiots.

I think in this year 2021 eventually we’ll get this damn virus under control and pull just enough heads out of enough asses to get things back up and running. But it won’t be like before. The memories and emotions will always be there, hovering over the present for many years to come. I think the initial rebound as it’s being called will probably be pretty strong but I won’t forget this last year.

We should never forget what we lost, who we lost, and our pain and grief. And most of all, we should hold those responsible for this shit accountable. Vote them out of office, investigate them, charge them for breaking laws they did, and send the rest of them into exile. And most of all, never let these bastards forget what they did even if they never take responsibility for it.

I’ve been trying to put into words what I’ve been feeling for quite some time and the word ‘subdued’ has clarified those feelings. It’s a quiet word that shows a lack of energy and vitality and it recognizes pain and loss, too. Many years ago I once said the silence after a battle is just as loud as the battle itself.

We’re not done with this battle and things will be subdued for a good while longer. We’ll try to reenergize ourselves when we can but I know it won’t be like before. And before wasn’t perfect, far from it. But before there was energy and possibility, and hope. I’ve been able to hold on to the hope. Now I want the possibility and the energy back, and we need to fight like hell to hold on to that no matter what.

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