My next pickup is but minutes away. Alas, I mess up on the directions, pass my passengers and have to circle around the block to find them. My rider calls. Tells me where she is. I apologize, tell her I’m right around the corner and will be there in less than a minute.
This time around, I see where she is standing and, while still on the phone with her, I tell her, I’m here. Blinkers on for effect and communication.
She meanders around on the sidewalk, talking with friends, seemingly oblivious to the conversation she had with me 20 seconds earlier. I watch her. She continues to look oblivious, as do her three other friends. I’m the only car stopped in front of them, and I’m certainly the only car with its blinkers on. I text her: I’m here. She walks toward me with a dull look on her face. Looks at me, then turns back to her group of friends and talks for awhile.
I start the ride on the Uber app. Perhaps this is some sort of passive-aggressive stuff, and maybe she is mad that it took me longer to get to her (four minutes versus two), but I’m already bored with her. She comes and gets in the car. Tells me her friend is involved in a really serious conversation and we have to wait for her. Thankfully, it’s but a minute or two. Her friend gets in.
I’m taking them to a nearby bar. They’ve come from some other event that is part bar, part art gallery. Both of my passengers are white, early 20s, thin, short and bland-looking. Both are dressed in short skirts, tights and ballet flats. I presume neither of them are wearing a stitch of wool and that they are rather cold with tonight’s upper-20s temps. My car has not heated up yet, and I feel no interest in cranking up the heat or offering for their comfort the extra cashmere sweater I happen to have on the front seat.
Girl #2 starts going on about, like, she shouldn’t feel threatened, like, why does he even talk to that girl, like, um, like, she doesn’t know why he even, like, likes that other girl. Or some iteration of some story that sounded something like that. It was very hard to want to grasp the actual story.
She then calls a guy and in super-girlish tones tells him she needs a favor: Can he help her move on March 1st? Well, March 1st and 2nd. She needs to move, like, a mattress, and, like, a table, and, like, her dresser.
I drop them off at a bar where others with whom they seem quite compatible are standing clumped in small groups on the sidewalk.
Key experience: I am invisible (perhaps bland) to them. They are bland to me.
I’m thinking maybe I should just go home. I’m not really feeling this. I’d love for a rider to be heading south, closer to my home. I cross my fingers and blink some magic in the hope that a future iteration of Uber will allow drivers to enter their driving direction preference and for Uber’s algorithms to match the passenger’s general direction with the driver’s desired direction.