Ubering Ms. Barbra – the law of attraction & a glimpse into the underworld of ride-share.

I simply want a job befitting my education.  To get back into “the game.”  I feel I am worth more.  Your value is here and now, in the moment.

… the Law of Attraction is the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person’s life.[1][2] The belief is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from pure energy, and that through the process of like energy attracting like energy a person can improve their own health, wealth, and personal relationships.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_attraction_(New_Thought)

You simply don’t know where you are going when the ride alert goes off.  A typical ride from the airport.  This one went to a plush, multi-tier, newly built driving range.  I’d taken people here before, and picked up fares here.  Nothing special. She complained on the ride over about being “big” and “tall”, how airline seats were so uncomfortable, yet her large frame, wedged at an angle between the door and seat seemed at ease despite her size in my tiny car.  The lady I was dropping off tonight expressed some question about the address being correct, but assuredly said “this is the place.”   I get her suitcase from the rear deck of the Outback.  Medium sized, yet heavy.  She was a happy person.  A person of good spirits.  Jolly.  We laughed about something trivial.  She took her bag, turned and looked up the daunting stairs her heavy body was going to have to ascend if she were going in.  I pulled forward turning as hard to the left as I could, knowing I was going to have to back up and start again, as there wasn’t enough room to turn the car completely around.  It was dark, yet brightly lit in the parking lot.  It was only a short distance back to the shadows of the main road.

Barbra.

The name Barbra is an English Baby Names baby name. In English Baby Names the meaning of the name Barbra is: A, meaning foreign or strange, traveler from a foreign land. In Catholic custom St. Barbara is a protectress against fire and lightning.

The name Barbra is a Greek Baby Names baby name. In Greek Baby Names the meaning of the name Barbra is: Dry. A flower name.

People with this name have a deep inner desire for love and companionship, and want to work with others to achieve peace and harmony.

for harmony and balance in their lives, and respond positively to beautiful things.

Barbra

Destination set for the airport.  Like all ride-share drivers I’m hoping to catch a fare that will offset the trip back to the airport waiting lot.  “Bing!”  Seemingly even before I can finish dropping off my current rider at the golf driving range a ride share request comes across.  “Jorge” is requesting a ride just a few minutes away and in the direction of the airport.  Maybe the night might improve after all.  My swollen hand, still throbbing from multiple honey bee stings from the other “side hustle”, I painfully grip the steering wheel and I head into the night.  Cruising towards the pick up point at Margaret Mitchell Ct to the sound of Moby’s “One Day We Lived”, I race the short distance.  Seemingly just another ride, I wondered who Jorge was – as I thought about the last “Jorge” I gave a ride to.  He was a Canadian and pronounced his name “George”.  He said everyone “gets it wrong.”  His family was from Brazil.  He was Catholic.  Visiting on business.  Surely not the same guy, but it wouldn’t be like I hadn’t had the same passenger twice.  They all come back into mind from time to time – I don’t think I’ve forgotten anyone over the past three months.  The GPS shows a straight shot and then a few curves.  Moby moans,

There was no end in sight
The time has risen up
Time has pulled us down
Bringing darkness to the light

I worry about where I’m going, always on edge picking someone up away from the familiarity and assumed safety of the airport.  I feel relief as I meander and make my way into the parking lot of an fairly recent apartment complex.  Frustrated by the driver of a newer Dodge Challenger that is blocking the entrance of the set of buildings I’m headed to, I don’t see anyone outside yet.  I hope I don’t have to wait.  I am impatient being anxious to get the show on the road so I can return to the airport.  These short local trips are bothersome and simply don’t pay.  After two minutes they customer has to pay a wait fee; after 4 minutes the app will prompt me to “cancel” the ride if the requestor hasn’t shown up.  If it weren’t for the 3 point per ride Uber Pro incentive I probably wouldn’t have bothered.  The parking lot is full.  I park on the corner, not in a proper parking space, between two buildings, hazards on not knowing from which direction Jorge will come.  After a few moments and the Uber count down timer approaches zero, the point at which the customer starts to get charged a wait time, I use the electric locks to lock the doors.  Something just doesn’t feel right.  It appears to be a fairly nice place.  Nice cars in the parking lot, at least I don’t see any junkers.  Maybe I should cancel the ride once the Uber clock gets past the 2 minute wait time.  I grow ever more impatient as I watch the Uber countdown clock.  The timer starts to charge for waiting, less than 2 minutes to go and I’m outta here.  It happens to be a full moon on a Friday night.  The Panthers are playing down town, I think to myself about how to avoid the downtown area.  It’s a nightmare with all those people.  If something went wrong and there were a panic there’d be no getting out of city limits.  Like a child in elementary waiting for school to end, seconds seem like hours.

At the same time I hear from behind a tap on the glass of the driver-side rear passenger door, the painful sound of stress in the voice of woman asks, “Uber?  Are you an Uber?”  A fit, shapely, short brown African American lady with shorter still, tight curly hair painfully smiles at me with some relief as I stutter, struggling to get the answer out through a slightly cracked opening in the side window, “ye … yeah … yes!”  Still startled I quickly unlock the doors and she hurriedly scrambles to get in.  She hurriedly yells “thank you for the ride” to who appears to be a barrel chested Latino man wearing only jeans who has followed her out onto the sidewalk.  With no hesitation she gets in the seat behind me.  In a sharp “let’s go!” directed at me she shuts the door.  I’m uneasy when I can’t see the passenger, more uneasy with her sense of urgency.  As I put the car in reverse to turn around she mutters “I can’t believe that shit! Oh God.”  Visibly shaken, I didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t know how to respond.  My only immediate thought was to turn the car around so it would be headed out the way I came in.  I wasted no time not knowing if something was going to happen.  Was there a domestic dispute about to break out?  I didn’t want to be in the middle of a fight.  It’s not unusual for someone to request a ride on behalf of someone else, but this one had the makings of a story about to unfold.

“Can you drop me off across the street from this address?  I can show you.  It’s literally right across the street.”  Ride-share customers are always requesting deviations in their trips.  I’m pulling out of the apartment complex with a measured “smoothness” in my movement.  “I can’t believe that shit! I’m sorry.  You don’t even know me, but I’m sorry.” she blurts out before I can answer,  “I just can’t believe what just happened.”  With excited-ness, frustration and anxiety she rants some more.  “Sure, I think we can get you to where you are going”, I’m wanting this ride to end.  Now would not be soon enough.

There was no cordial-ness, no introductions.  Our conversation deviated only by a brief moment:

“Can I charge my phone? I have a cord.”

“Sure, what kind of phone is that, an Android?”

“Yeah.  I have a cord if you can just plug it in for me.”

“Let me see your cord.”

“It’s the same as mine.  My cord is longer, use it.  You can still use your phone from the backseat with it.”

That was our introduction.  Nothing ill between us.  Nothing confrontational.  She has slid to passenger side of the car where I can see her out of the corner of my eye now.  I feel a little better that if something is coming I can at least have some simulance of forewarning.  She continues with the trauma of the night, “… it was only suppose to be one dude.  There were three of ’em.  I’m not doing that shit.  Not for that.”  I glance at the GPS, how long is this ride going to take I think to myself.

“I just don’t know what I’m going to do.  This is no way to live.”  There were moments when she’d thrash her body, twisting emotionally side to side as she fought to hold back the tears and cried out in anguish about how they used her.  How they abused her.  Yet there she was.  With moments of strong with fortitude, with indescribable courage she told me of things I really didn’t want to hear.  Things everyone should hear.  The things you want to protect your children from.  While my blood boiled with rage as she spoke, my heart was sickened.

Me: “I wish I could say something that would offer you some comfort.”

“I only need you … someone, to listen.”  – and listen I did.

You see I learned about Barbra, of her life, a life no one should have to live, of hellish moments of what it is like to be a commodity of the sex trade underworld.  How she ran from the life of an abuse as a wife of 13 years.  How she had a “business” deal with “two guys” in exchange for her living arrangements.  It was just business.  Of a “John” that exploited her for $500 but only paid her $160.  She didn’t know how she was going to survive.  She was only going to have $40 after she paid a single bill.   I dare not share her exact words.  Of explicit activity you would only see on TV or believe to happen in the pornography world.  She was exploited, and yet at the same time compromised herself in exchange for money.  I would have given her every dollar I had made that night for her to have not been the person she was describing to me.  Selfishly I wondered what did I do to deserve this, only to realize, what did she do to deserve this?  I wanted the moment to be snipped from my timeline.  To have never have existed.  There were moments I wanted her out of my car, and others where I wanted revenge for her.

As I turned left, going in the opposite direction of where the GPS was leading me.  An annoying message of  “Re-routing…” flashed in my face, I thought to myself “focus”, you want to go home tonight.  Not knowing what to expect we pull into an average neighborhood of cookie cutter houses.  Middle class, looks like where I am from.  I am never the less on guard, not knowing what happens next.  She sobbs as I pull up to the house she points at, “… the one with the cars in the driveway.”

She rustles through some cash, struggling to pull out a $5 bill.  Softly with a smile I push her hand clutching the money back towards her, “keep it”, knowing every dollar she has is precious.

Smartly I ask, “Ma’am may I ask your name?”

“Barbra.  My name is Barbra” she says with a broken smile.  A moment of relief on her face in knowing all I wanted from her was to know her name.

“You are in my prayers tonight Barbra.”  I struggled for something more to say.  For once I was a loss for words.  Caught off guard by the moment.  Knowing what I would do if this were my daughter, I controlled my temper understanding this wasn’t my world.  This wasn’t my fight in the physical sense.  All I could offer was the comfort of a prayer.

As she opens the door she asks, “Can I hug you?  Wha … what’s your name?”

Walking around the rear of the car, “Ralph, you won’t forget me though, my nickname is Happy.”   I mustered as much of a smile as I could.  It was more of a painful grimace.

I held a short stranger in the dim glow of the street for a moment while she cried.  Her tiny frame clung to me as she cried in relief.  I didn’t know if she cried for herself, or for me – for not fully understanding or for simply listening.  Or for a life she felt she couldn’t change or escape.  Inside I died.  I watched for movement, listened for any sign of danger.  For a moment nothing, nor no one would hurt her.  I wouldn’t allow it.  For an instance we were friends.  I smiled at her and bid her a good night.  I told her again I would remember her in prayer.  She held back the tears, smiled and said I made her happy just knowing my name.

I feel bad.  I feel guilty.  How did I fail this woman, … this human being.  She deserved to be treated with respect.  I should have referred her to a shelter.  Simply told her to walk away.  I didn’t even ask her if she was safe.   Silence.  So many things I could have did.  In a quickly unfolding hindsight – this was not how I wanted it to end.  I am sad.  I am angry at my own inaction.  Self preservation was all that was on my mind.  I don’t belong here.

I hurt.  Inside I cried.

On guard I turned the car around.  I watched the mirrors, and with a quick twist of my head saw her digging in her purse for keys to the door of an average looking house – in an average looking neighborhood.

My heart swelled with emotion in a silent prayer as I pulled away.  I am angry.

There’s a hell waiting for men like this.  Death would have been too merciful.  I wanted something lingering.  A suffering that no matter where they went, everyone would know their crime.  A mangled mass of flesh not serving my vengeance alone.  Within my selfishness I wanted it to happen this very night.  This very moment.

Moby

Now that its gone
Now that its gone
Now that its gone

Barbra

Trip number 849.

Fri, August 16, 11:59 PM

$6.96

 

… and so it ends where it begins.

You deserve a job befitting who you are.  You need to get back into “the game.”  You need to know you are worth more.  Your value is here and now, in the moment.

I am worth more.  So is Barbra.

“Are you sure you still want to drive for Uber?”,  I ask myself.  $6.96, maybe I got something more valuable than the money.

One more ride to shake this off.  Then I’m done for the night.  Maybe for good.

 

So “if” you really think you want to do this, sign up for Uber here:  https://partners.uber.com/i/ralphp967ue

 

 

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