SLO Insider Vol. 1 Issue 01 "The Founders"

The Uber Files – VOL 1, Ride 42

My Trick And Treat On Halloweekend

Windshield wipers slapping, umbrellas snapping, and those caught napping cover their heads with whatever and run. “Welcome to winter,” or so says the first real rain of the season. Keep it coming, you gods of the rainy realm. Drought is a trick in the land of treat.

The rain came on Monday, which was perfect for the revelers on Halloweekend. The party that lasted three nights was over and, without a doubt, the partiers rose well above the bar for festive behavior. Once again, I was reminded that when under the influence, it is difficult to suppress the characteristics that define who we are – “in vino veritas”.

The Trick

“I am sorry, I can only take four.” Damn — another group of buzzed college girls trying to fit five in my car!

“We can squeeze in. Mandi is small. She can lie on the floor at our feet.” Her insistent and privileged tone immediately annoyed me. I am sure she told the other girls she could get the job done, just as she has so many times before.

“No can do. If I get a ticket, it will cost me and I could lose my Uber gig.” Her annoyance with my response was evident. She was used to getting what she wanted.

“We’ve done this so many times with other Uber drivers. It’s no big deal.” Her sense of entitlement was evident in her unspoken but clear message, “Just do what I want and all will be right with my world.”

“The number is four.” She must have understood my still calm and civil voice meant she would not get her way, so she designated a loser and told her to call for another Uber driver. She and her remaining three acolytes then poured into the car, and as she was buckling her seat belt (good girl!) I offered her a bit of Uber education.

“Next time you have five or more, you can call an Uber XL.” Okay, so I learn things in life and then I forget that which I learned. Did I really think she cared about doing the right thing, playing by the rules of the game?

“Uber XL is stupid. It costs like $30 minimum!” Her sharp and definitive tone harbored a hint of insolence. She was done with me and not getting her way. Without missing her beat, she launched into a nonstop harangue about this girl, that boy, the party, and, well, whatever!

The Treat

My pax seemed bright, happy, and festive, ready to have some fun on Halloween. Maybe a glass of wine or two …

Wanting to chat, she told me about working for a winery as an enologist. She really liked her job. In fact, she loved it, and she loved living in SLO, but …

“If only I could afford to buy a house.” She quickly turned her head toward her window, and then she turned back as suddenly to finish her thought. I could hear tears in her voice.

“Everything is beyond my reach. I make good money, but not enough to buy anything and I am not the person whose parents can give money for a down payment.” The moment before, the winery professional effused cheer, and now sadness overwhelmed her.

I started to speak, but stopped. I wanted to tell her to be patient, that the time would come when home prices would roll back to provide an opening to buy. I sensed she didn’t want to hear that thought, and, in my heart, I knew the hollow reality of it would not make her feel better. Even though I had seen real estate prices fall from overpriced levels over the years, I now suspected we were past the point where the prices would be reasonable again – simply, we live in a beautiful place and people with money want to come and live here.

The housing conundrum is the year-round “trick or treat” reality of living in SLO – beautiful, temperate, casual, relaxed, intellectual, clean but expensive, especially if you want to settle in and have a family. The young enologist understands this, so much so the reality of it makes her unhappy.

She also gets it that struggling to get what we want is the norm, that most folks work hard within the rules to achieve their goals. She doesn’t feel entitled; she feels left out. Maybe the girl banished to another Uber driver felt that as well when privileged girl who doesn’t get it left her to find her own way.

That rude girl who willingly breaks the rules to get what she wants exemplifies that portion of society who believes they are entitled to get what they want when they want it, however that has to happen. Somehow, the rest of us are here to make the world right for them. This girl was my trick on Halloweekend.

The cheerful then sad young woman was my treat because I connected with her on a sincere level. Her emotional distress was palpable. I felt it. As well, the optimist in me was stirred because I know, I just do, she will find within the rules a way to buy a house and raise her family in SLO.

Tune in and don’t drop out.
Mr. Uber Driver

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