One of my Uber Chronicles stories. (Photo clearly isn’t my passenger. Duh.)
I drive a few minutes and am directed by GPS onto a quiet road with dozens of police cars parked alongside it. What? Oh, I’m near a police station or some sort of police headquarters office. The Uber app tells me I’ve arrived at my passenger’s pickup location. I wait. Maybe I’m at the wrong place. I back up. I don’t see anyone. I drive forward. I don’t see anyone. I back up some more, almost the full length of this desolate block. Nothing. Then I realize that I’m on the wrong street by a half block. There aren’t many half blocks in D.C., though I seem to have discovered one of them.
Right at the moment I realize I’m a half block from my destination, my passenger calls and tells me where to find him. He’s at a nice hotel around the corner. I drive to him.
Three beautiful and extremely well-dressed women are standing by him.
I was kind of hoping for a single passenger, maybe a couple at the most. I have a bunch of papers and books in my car on the floor of the front seat passenger side, and I realize I’m really not organized enough with my stuff, at this point, to take on a larger crowd. Also, my car is a bit dirty. Ugh. Well, my windows certainly are, and the outside hasn’t been washed in more than a week. The interior is fairly clean. Kinda. I hope they don’t mind. Before I picked them up, I spritzed the car with some Young Living Thieves essential oil, a mix of cloves, cinnamon, citrus, rosemary and more. It’s an instant air refresher.
Three very svelte, very pretty, very well-coiffed, superbly made-up women, incredibly elegant women get in my car. They’re all probably in their early 30s, they’re all Nigerian and they’re all pissed—very pissed off, the one in the front seat more than the others. They do like the smell in my car, they tell me.
The guy who called me and booked the ride comes up to the car and tells me to follow the Uber car in front of me. Okay, I say. Then the car takes off without waiting for us. Okay. Well, no worries. I have their destination address entered in my app.
My passengers are loud, animated, talking over each other and very unhappy with how they were treated by some of the men in the car we’re following. Their displeasure, at first, is expressed as an onslaught of complaints about—and outrage toward—the men and their behavior. One woman is calmer, and she redirects the conversation to their personal power as women and how she simply won’t tolerate this kind of behavior or provide a platform for this type of conversation from men.
The three of them are from New York City and are in town (D.C.) for a wedding. Alas, they missed the wedding. Why? I ask. Because they were late, one of them tells me. Now, we’ll probably miss the party, too, she adds. It’s 12:15 p.m. when I picked them up.
I’m driving them to a bar that leans African (not African-American, that is) in its patronage. The bar is, tonight and now, a 28-minute drive from their hotel and in a much less-swanky area. The conversation in the car ranges from anger at the men, to how men should treat ladies, to not allowing men to treat them this way and, well, not much else.
It’s a little chilly outside and they’re not dressed very warmly. I ask if they need the heat up or down, and they tell me I’m nice and that the Uber drivers in New York have no manners and someone should report them. I tell them they will undoubtedly be the prettiest ladies at the party they are attending, and they thank me.
We’re now clearly in the bar area and where I’ll be dropping them off soon. The Uber app directs me down a small street and then down an alley. An alley! Like with trashcans and stuff. We call the guy who booked the Uber ride and he gives us an address and a venue name. Odd, I am half a block off from the address and at the back entrance of the place. Whatever. Sometimes the Uber GPS function in the app takes me (and other drivers) to the backs of buildings.
I navigate to the front of the bar, drop them off and wish them a good night. Indeed, and without question, they are the most exquisitely dressed women among the few dozen people milling about outside on this lovely fall evening.
Key experience: While the decibel level of their complaints was a bit hard to take, and their cultural expression and accent was overwhelming to me at times, I very much appreciated the sentiment and most importantly the message I took from their conversation, which was not to “give platform” to behavior from men that is disrespectful to me as a woman. There was an elegance about one of the women in particular that transcended her dress, make-up and hair, and it came out in her voice and words: she wouldn’t put up with being disrespected because she owned and was responsible for her own value. She had an air of royalty about her. It was quite something to witness.
I continue on toward my home. Beep! A call comes in. Just a few minutes away. I take it.