Ah! Sorry! Did your Uber driver wake you? I know it’s late, but the reason he just laughed out loud was because of the overly witty story I told him. A sloppy mistake on my part, I apologize. The things I say should be gently stimulating, not galvanizing. That’s because I’m the guy all your Uber drivers are on the phone with late at night.
That’s right. Every time an Uber driver asks you your name as you get in the car after a night out and then mumbles something a couple of minutes later, and you ask him to repeat because you didn’t quite catch that, but then you realize he’s just talking on his Bluetooth earpiece? The kind of Bluetooth earpiece you thought they stopped making in like 2008? And your surprise only grows when you realize he’s actually having a phone conversation with someone at this time of night? Like, who could have thought, “Hey, it’s 2:15 AM, time to catch up with Slobodan!”
You better believe that’s me on the other end. Every time. Every night.
See, I used to be an Uber driver myself. I’m a really friendly guy, and I’ve made a lot of contacts over the years. At this point, that includes pretty much every Uber driver in the country. I like to call all my old buddies late at night to give them someone to talk to. I remember the monotony, winding through the lonely streets in the dark, wishing I had someone to listen to and grunt a reply to every few minutes. That’s why I made it my mission to have long, practically one-sided phone conversations with your drivers throughout the duration of all your late-night trips back from Bushwick or the Lower East Side or Mario’s birthday thing at Brooklyn Barge.
It’s really the least I can do for the community.
You might wonder how I’m able to converse with so many drivers who seem to be from different parts of the world. Simple: I’m fluent in 45 languages.
And before you try to do the math: yes, I have upwards of 6,000 conversations a night. I’m very good at scheduling.
The key is picking the right conversation topic. I prefer topics that I can talk about for quite some time, and that would only obligate the driver to respond, monosyllabically, every 2-3 minutes or so. Common topics include: my children, trees, the discography of Earth, Wind & Fire, angels, and ways to prepare chili.
Here is a sample conversation that I might be having with your driver as you start to drift off while worrying about leaving your credit card at Brooklyn Barge:
Me: If you go to Spain in the spring, which you absolutely must before you die, it would be foolish not to pay a visit to Granada. Located in the southernmost region of Andalucia, Granada is home to the world-famous medieval palace known as the Alhambra, originally constructed in 889 AD and later converted into a royal palace by Yusuf I in 1333. The Alhambra is known as one of the finest remnants of Spain’s rich Islamic history.
Driver: That sounds lovely.
Me: It is. But do not mistake the Alhambra for the only reason to spend time in Granada. Nay, the city boasts, too, the cultural legacies of the Jewish and Roma peoples, and priceless relics are strewn about the city like so many discarded olive pits. As if that weren’t enough, your dollar can stretch quite a way in Granada; it is one of the only cities in the country to still observe the classic “one beer = free tapa” rule.
Driver: I’ll book my flight straightaway. Thanks for the tip.
Me: Any time. Speaking of beer, there are four crucial ingredients you need to brew a delicious, foamy lager…
And so on.
When the trip ends and you’re home safe, I thank my friend for the pleasant conversation and wish him a good night. Then it’s off to the next call.
And don’t worry—I never judge you for anything I can hear through the driver’s headset, not even for that time you called Eleanor screaming after Mario drunkenly tried to booty call you when you were about to get dropped off at your place in Flatbush and he was still back at Brooklyn Barge. I’m here to talk, not to listen (except to your driver’s murmured replies, so seldom you often forget he’s on the phone at all).
Sometimes I do check in, though, to see if you took your driver up on the bottle of water. I like to make sure our passengers stay hydrated. If he forgets to offer one, I simply remind him!
From the cozy little office nook I keep on the second floor of my house in central New Jersey, I have seen countless trips completed through to their destination. I get a little thrill every time your driver texts me afterward to let me know you gave him five stars. It’s why I do what I do.
Also, I’m a masked vigilante by day, so this is pretty relaxing compared to that.