Uber Tales – Dude-Bro’s and Predictability in an Unpredictable Job, Edition

In five years of being an Uber driver the only thing that’s predictable about this job is its’ unpredictability. The unpredictability is that every single day (or night) on the road is never the exact same as any other day. But after five years there are some things that have become a bit predictable, and one thing is the type of passengers I have.

Take the dude-bro I had yesterday. The dude-bro is all-male, straight, conservative even if they spout liberal talking points (which they only spout to liberal chicks if they think it will get them laid). They’re college-educated, probably belonged to a fraternity, and probably destroyed a fair number of brain cells in college. They listen to podcasts and worship at the altar of Elon Musk and Joe Rogan. They act like they have their shit together and have all the answers in the world. In reality, they slide through life on being white, male, and having money at their disposal. To me, they’re mostly harmless because they’re afraid of ugly middle-aged women like me because they know we can see right through them.

I’m sure you think I should be kinder in thinking about my passengers. No, that’s not a requirement of my job or of any job for that matter. The customer is not always right and nor should anyone be treated like that. And if I chose to push back at someone’s bullshit in my vehicle in a polite way with no profanity (that’s a line I still won’t cross in the car), then I can and usually will… unless I’m in very heavy traffic and need to concentrate of my driving.

Getting back to yesterday’s dude-bro… he says he’s from California but wants to move to Texas. Okay, I’ve heard that plenty of times before because these dude-bro’s think Texas is a conservative Utopia since it’s the home of their false-messiahs Elon and Joe (they’re not Messiahs and they’re not even very naughty boys, just dumber than a pile of cow shit and they smell just as bad). Then this dude-bro tossed an interesting curveball in the vehicle: he thinks wind and solar power are on their way out and nuclear power will come back. He claims there is a form of nuclear power that isn’t radioactive.

My first thought was: what in the hell has he been smoking? And second, how can something be nuclear and not radioactive? Instead, I asked why and he said something about nuclear being longer-lasting or some word-shit salad. Then I asked about radioactive waste and what to do about that. No real solution there other than burying it (which we’re already doing). Then he said if solar panels break down then what? I told him they can be recycled and not be radioactive for twenty-thousand years like nuclear waste. Then I told him the city of San Antonio has a plan to try and go all-solar and other renewable energy sources. That really shut him up and God I was grateful for that.

It’s this kind of stupidity I have to deal with from time to time and I used to not say anything in reply to it. Now I just do my best to bury their arguments in their own bullshit and keep driving at the same time, something they would never be able to do even if they got lessons from me (which I would never give because they would flunk my tests even if they tried to cheat).

Then in the silence I decided not to point out to dude-bro if he moves to Texas he’ll find the real-estate is cheaper than California but he’ll get whacked with rude jacked-up property taxes, homeowners insurance out the ass, and sky-high utility prices. Then he talked about going down to Boca Chica (in the Rio Grande Valley) where Elon-the-False-Prophet has a Space-X launch site. I didn’t tell him he’d probably be outnumbered a hundred-to-one by wild boars, lizards, snakes, coyotes, and eating sand.

The predictable part of yesterday was the dude-bro vibe I got from this guy immediately and that I was right on the mark. The unpredictability was the pro-nuke line of reasoning. T me, going against things that will help the planet and its’ people simply because it’s a liberal thing is so fucking stupid it defies any attempt to understand it. Of course, this is probably a guy who would tell other guys they’re ‘gay’ if they say or do certain things that aren’t ‘manly’ and conservative and traditional (because heterosexual dude bro’s are homophobic even if they try to hide it). But like I’ve said before, they’re mostly harmless unless they’re lawmakers or run a company and have people on their payroll (then they need to be voted out of office and not be allowed to make any decision more complex than what kind of pencils to buy).

In the end, most of the passengers that annoy me are mostly harmless. And after five years on the road, I’ve learned how to deal with them.

But I do like a good line drive out of left field, even if the person tossing it is in right field and not able to field anything to begin with.

Uber Tales – Housing As Seen From the Road, Edition

As you can imagine, I see a lot of things from the road. And yesterday I was thinking about housing. I know that might sound boring but I don’t think it is. I just think tract housing with lookalike houses is boring.

Yesterday I was all over the place as I drove through three counties way out in the sticks and then into the city. I know people need housing and places to live but these suburban developments with all these houses, a lot of crammed in together don’t hold any appeal for me. Why?

The houses are for the most part thrown up pretty quickly so in about ten years the foundations will shift and crack (they’re mostly slab foundations and since the soil here in South Texas is really loamy and goopy, they will shift eventually). Also, most of these developments are governed by HOA’s (Homeowners Associations) and these organizations can be flat-out nuts at times. Ostensibly they’re to maintain the community amenities like playgrounds and pools along with the streets and stuff. In reality a lot of them turn into nit-picky heaven and enforce all kinds of bullshit deed restrictions (no pink houses or pink flamingo in the yard for example).

I had a passenger who I picked up a few times on my early morning runs who managed a nightclub for two guys who according to him were morons and he also had staffing issues that would give anyone a lot of gray hair. But what he bitched to me about the most was having to go home to a tract-housing development and get dirty looks from his old-fart neighbors for not mowing the grass every week like these heart-attacks-just-waiting-to-happen did. He told me his wife wanted to live in this suburban nightmare but I don’t think he did.

The conformity of cookie-cutter subdivisions amuses me because I still can’t figure out the appeal of living in something so conformist. I grew up in subdivisions as a kid but that was back in the 80’s when you could ride your bike around the place and go outside and listen to music. When I drive through these cookie-cutterville’s I don’t see kids out and about very much. It’s rare for me to see kids on bicycles or hanging out on front driveways or anything like that. I know it’s a different time and all that but I also have to wonder: are a good number of parents class-A ninnies who don’t want their little darlings to scrape a knee and get bitten by a bug? Granted, my generation, Generation X, could walk out injuries that would send anyone else to the hospital but I just don’t see a lot of kids out and about these days.

I still look for them when I’m driving and yes in some neighborhoods I see kids out and about. In 2020, I saw a lot of families out walking in the afternoons during lockdown and I thought that was great. I know it was probably just a case of cabin-fever for a lot of people but jeez, the great outdoors aren’t so bad.

Another thing I’ve thought about is how my job enables me to see so much. Most people just go to work, run errands, and maybe venture out of their little bubbles from time to time to go to an event or something. I love the fact my job has taken me over every inch of San Antonio, Bexar County (the county San Antonio is in that is pronounced by us locals as ‘Bear’ county and not its’ proper Spanish pronunciation of ‘bey har’) and the surrounding counties.

For example, yesterday was one of those days where I was all over the place. I was in three counties, drove by the state jail on the far west side of Bexar County, and got to take a passenger on the scenic route through some pretty undeveloped land north of the city. As I drove by all that undeveloped land all I could think of was that I kind of hoped they put the tract-housing crap-villes somewhere else. I like driving by farms and seeing cows, horses, goats, and two young burros like I did yesterday. I like driving on two-lane country roads through a canopy of big green trees and houses tucked back from the road. I know that kind of life in the sticks isn’t for everyone but the tract-housing ideal sold to Americans since the end of World War II can’t be the ideal either.

Old neighborhoods built before suburbia are colorful because no two houses are exactly alike. Before zoning laws and crap like that people just bought a piece of land and built what they wanted. Now I know old houses are money pits but newer ones are, too. I like old neighborhoods that are a mix of huge mansions then the cottage next door where the poorer folk lived. And I like seeing houses painted blue, purple, or pink. In the past, some uptight-asshole types used to freak out over those colors and I wondered why. I mean, those aren’t ugly colors and here in South Texas the sun will bleach them out in about five years or so.

In the end, I’m not one for settling down as I don’t think it would have worked out for me. I like being on the road too much and I like the thought of living in a house-on-wheels and seeing the world. And also not having to pay HOA dues and dealing with dirty looks from the neighbors about lawn-mowing.

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