07 October 2015

Tonight on Uber: I Should Have Known From the Start

scionA gentleman solicits a ride in a rural pocket of dead end neighborhood near Union Hills and 28th St, the dirt road muddied by the concurrent rain storm. He stumbles out of an anonymous home with arm loads of disheveled luggage.

I should have known from the start.

He dumps his items in the back seat and informs me he needs to go pee before we leave. Rather than going back inside, he unzips 8 inches from my car and relieves himself. At least his back is turned.

I should have known from the start.

Before we stop at the first traffic light, I am up to speed on the intimate details of his personal life. Not knowing exactly how to console a 68 year old man sobbing in my passenger seat, I offer a brief pat on the shoulder and redirect the conversation.

I should have known from the start.

Classic rock is his forte, so I rapidly locate KLSX. He excitably takes control of the stereo. I have never seen my stereo display “max volume”. I have never been more thankful for steering wheel volume control. Thank you, dear passenger, for informing me that my stereo is not very good. Your suggestion to upgrade to an $1000 Bose system in my $3000 Scion is dually noted.

I should have known from the start.

The fun lasts until the song reminds him of his late father, and everyone else who has passed away in the last twenty years. Grief can only be solved one way at a time like this: more booze. 

Upon request, we roll into Circle K. He withdraws his wallet and flips through hundreds of dollars in cash, implying I make his beer run for him. Quickly scanning what I will remove from my car and take in with me, I ask him what he wants. Since he cannot decide between wine and a six pack of Corona, he decides to run the errand himself.

Natty Light is neither Corona nor wine.

Before I can stop him, he cracks one open and toasts to his brother. My concern about the open container in my vehicle diminishes as he pours it out the window in the gas station parking lot. Superstition has it that dumping some on the ground allows the toast to transcend into the afterlife.

I should have known from the start.

The final two miles launch a series of rapid fire juxtapositions.

Accusations of taking longer routes to rack up fares are unsubstantiated by failure to articulate a preferred route.

Desires to drive all night to Vegas are confused by vociferous concern over the cost of the current $14 fare.

Drunk dials to “Sherry Circle K” are veiled by demands for marital reconciliation prayers while parked in the driveway.

Fears of facing his mother are lost with the invitation to join them inside at 10:30 PM and eat her  “killer menudo”.


02 October 2015


InboxReturning to the minimalism bent for a moment, Nate must share a success he has had with email over the last year. While he could have done it anywhere, it happened IN Phoenix, and is, therefore, relevant.

Nate was once THAT guy who had 200, 300, 500 unread emails in his inbox, clogging his phone and his mind. Did he care about any of them? No. Did he spend time looking at them, scrolling past them, thinking about what should be done with them eventually? Yes. This is a conflict, is it not?

It actually started back in Tucson with the inception of a new Gmail account in 2014. This email was going to be strictly for personal use. The only people who would ever know this account exists were to be human beings, not companies, not newsletters, not marketing mongrels. Well, it has been over a year and this holds true. This is also the email address that alerts to his phone. Despite popular misconceptions that Nate may be extremely popular, it only goes off three or four times a week. He knows each of those chimes has importance and doesn’t have to spend time filtering. Open, read, respond, move on.  It is a beautiful thing.

The major revolution that happened in Phoenix is what is mind boggling. After a major corruption of the account for “all the other stuff”, Nate shut it down and opened a second new account for “the man” to have. However, this time Nate was extremely intentional about who “the man” was to be. He took the same strict approach, giving this email only to service providers he actually needed to engage with. Consider these the people who keep your lights on and hold your money.

Starting with a fresh email, this is the key… the secret… why someone would suffer through the last four paragraphs to get to this simple revolution. IF YOU DON’T GIVE THE ADDRESS OUT, YOU WON’T GET ANY MAIL IN.

Nate realized he was actually creating his own misery by succumbing to every cute Old Navy salesperson and rugged Ford representative. (True fact: these representatives at the auto show have nothing to do with the car company. They are models who work for a talent agency). It may seem harmless in the moment. These products, individually, are not bad. Many Nate even uses to this day. He just doesn’t need four emails a week about it. Four emails a week times ten companies equals 2,080 emails a year. Easily, this could absorb 30 hours of life a year. What about those inboxes with 3,748 emails? Suddenly the free hats and 10% off coupons aren’t as appealing. They are the hangover that lasts all year, interrupts important meetings, and usurps your mental capacity to do really awesome things.

Sometimes the process of providing an email is unavoidable, such as purchasing an airline ticket. There is a magical little button called “Unsubscribe” at the bottom of most emails. Each time he gets an email, he takes the extra second to click it. Be warned, certain companies are crafty. They actually put people in six, seven, ten email lists within their own company. Thinking you have unsubscribed, it’s all a lie. While unsubscribing from “Daily Deals”, am unknown subscription still exists to “Weekly Deals”. This process will take time. Be prepared, and have no fear. No matter how many times he has “unsubscribed”, Delta is still smart enough to send the boarding pass.

01 October 2015

Tonight on Uber: Sitting in the Car… Racking Up Fares

scionI am summonsed to an apartment complex on 17th Ave and Glendale. The passenger courteously calls to report, “I just got out of the shower, I will be right down.”

It is unclear why he called for a ride before he was ready to go, but that’s neither here nor there.

Sitting in the car… racking up fares.

He comes down the stairs, shirtless, smoking a cigarette. He asks me to pull around to the other side of the building to be closer to his heavy bag. 

Context clues lead me to believe he needs help carrying said bag down 2 flights of stairs. Ok, I’m here to serve.

I remove the bag as quickly as possible from his nearly empty apartment.

Sitting in the car… wondering if the goods I am now trafficking will get me 50 to life… racking up fares.

Minutes later, he makes his way down, shirted at last, with his broken pink e-cigarette, non-broken Camel Turkish Royals, and iPhone charger in hand. This guy is ready for a night on the town.

“The first stop is at Fry’s. It will just take five minutes”, he directs.

Sitting in the car… looking at his apartment from the Fry’s parking lot… racking up fares.

It is unclear why he did not walk to Fry’s before I was on the clock, but that is neither here nor there.

Fifteen minutes later, he calls. “Sorry, I got held up. There were lines and I found a clearance table.”

Sitting the car… watching the 90 pound girl cart attendant push with all her might for ten more minutes… racking up fares…

Triumphantly, he returns, proudly showing off his clearance Old Spice deodorant and iPhone 4/iPod charger.

He generously exclaims, “You’re so great for waiting, your tip is going to be bigger than the fare”.

Eager to get to the hot tub after a long day of packing in a 105 degree humid hell, he directs me to his friends house, unashamedly rummaging through my cd collection while en route.

“Your mom is a beautiful lady for getting you this beautiful Matt Redman CD”. 

It is unclear whether he was hitting on me, my mom, both, or neither, but that is neither here nor there.

Sitting in the car… wishing I was alone… racking up fares…

I drop him off and carry his bag to the door. He enthusiastically shows me on his phone what my earnings will be. That’s curious, as I hadn’t ended the ride yet.

“I did it for you.” Translation: “I touched your phone without asking.”

Sitting in the car… Big sigh.