“When are you going to Germany?” I asked.
“I fly out Wednesday morning.” Jose replied.
“Wow! That is so cool! Good luck!”
This was a snippet of the conversation I had with my fourth and final Uber driver last Monday night.
“I have your keys.” Marion told me earlier that morning on his way to work. Since he was only a couple of minutes from the finish line of the hour plus commute on the 405 freeway from our home in the valley to his office in Santa Monica, it was silly for him to turn back and swap keys.
It looked like an all-day Ubering adventure was on tap for this redhead.
Frankly, it was an odd and slightly unnerving feeling to see his name pop up on my phone so soon after he left the house. We both respect our responsibilities at work, which means we rarely talk to each other during the day; he was calling too soon, something was off.
Just after 6AM on March 25th, 2012, my mom’s birthday, my phone rang, and a voice reeking with fear and confusion yelled from the other end, “I was just hit by a car.”
“Where are you?” I replied. It was early, but I never sleep soundly when he works all night, and hearing the fear in his voice woke me up.
“I’m on the 405.”
“I’ll be right there!”
I clamored to get dressed and sprinted out the door.
It was raining that morning, an odd, yet occasional occurrence in LA. Marion pulled over to the far right lane after he was hit, while the drunk driver who hit him lost control of his car and slammed into the portable barrier further up the hill behind him. At the time there was massive construction going on all over the 405 freeway, which meant there were no shoulders to pull out of the way of traffic; both mangled cars were sitting in the middle of the lane.
Since the sun had not risen, and the drunk’s hazard lights were not flashing, the oncoming northbound drivers could not see his parked car on top of the hill until it was too late. Suddenly, a spinning, wet pile-up ensued that sent a van careening into Marion’s car and a half dozen other cars pin-balling across the freeway. Miraculously, Marion was sitting in his passenger seat when the van crashed into his driver’s side door, his tank-like Corvette braced the impact, but after he was hit; he crawled out of the car, climbed over the barrier, and scrambled up the hill to escape the mayhem.
Meanwhile, I was rushing southbound on the 405 to find him.
That was not the greatest idea because when the police finally showed up, they stopped traffic, and I was stuck. Luckily, even though Marion’s car was in shambles, it was drivable, (good old American engineering,) so once the officer’s excused him from the scene, he drove back to our house.
I will never regain that easy, normal pre-life changing feeling when I see his name pop up on my phone, especially in the wee hours of the morning. So, when he confessed that he grabbed my keys by mistake, but was safe and sound; I was annoyed, but relieved, and set about planning my expensive, yet entertaining Monday morning commute.
The first Uber driver was named Jack. Jack drove a Nissan Altima, and once I told him I was on my way to swim, he launched into a monologue about his desire to work out, but needed to re-configure his schedule in order to do so. By the time I was out of the car, about ten minutes later, we settled on the 3P – 4:30P window being the most optimal time of day for him to go to the gym.
The second Uber driver who whisked me to my next desired location, my house, was named Fernando. Fernando drove a non-descript mini-SUV, greeted me with a smile, but not much conversation followed. The bonus of this ride was that I learned from the GPS lady how to get to my house in Spanish, a fun fact that explains the minimal bonding between me and Fernando.
The third Uber driver was a chatty gentleman named, Hubert. Hubert picked me up in a blacked out Dodge Charger, which made me feel like we were en route to rob a bank. Hubert was lovely, in fact since it was the Monday after the Superbowl, we spent most of our seventeen minute drive to my office swapping stories about our favorite moments in the game. We agreed that Tom Brady will play at least two more seasons, and were both happy the Eagles won. Hubert missed my exit, but I was having such a delightful time, I didn’t mind the extra charge. Plus, he still got me to work on time.
Since I usually head home from work between 9:30P – 10P, the final Uber ride was the one I felt slightly sketched out about, however, my driver Jose’s young, vibrant, and instant charisma put me quickly at ease in the back seat of his silver Honda Civic. I learned about two minutes into the ride that he had been driving with Uber for only three weeks in an effort to earn enough money to visit his girlfriend in Germany, an admirable feat he achieved in just two weeks.
“How long have you been dating?” I asked
“Almost two months.” He answered.
Over the next twelve minutes or so, I sat back and listened to twenty-four year old Jose tell me about his deep connection with his newly-minted German girlfriend, Stella. It was adorable, and made me drift into a daydream about my own relationship that’s slightly beyond two months; it’s nearly fourteen years old.
I share a lot about my passion for endurance events, running, triathlon, etc., but my favorite endurance event, and the one I am most proud of, is my marriage. There are good days and not-so good days, but just like workouts and races, every single one of them is important. Both the tough ones and the easy ones make us stronger.
I hope I never have to hear the rush of whizzing traffic in the background again when I pick up a call from Marion, I wouldn’t wish a call like that on anyone. Also, I promise to get an extra key made for my Jeep so I don’t have to spend another morning and evening with Uber’s best and brightest.
Then again, it was a pretty fun day… I hope Jose is enjoying Germany.:)
Following is a fantastic song and video of the song, "For You," from Rita Ora and Liam Payne off of the 50 Shades Freed soundtrack. Happy Valentine's Day.:)