Why you should care
Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”
David Brandt, Uber driver
Another day of nonsense; every day, I witness nonsense.
I picked up a young woman who was going to Cabo. It takes 30 minutes to get to the airport — and the Atlanta airport is huge. It’s the world’s busiest airport. You have to walk to the terminal, which can be a distance. Even with the conveyor belt walkways, you still have to get a move on; there are five terminals. And, well, we get 20 minutes into the drive, and all of a sudden she tells me her flight leaves in 20 minutes.
First, this would have been useful information at the start; secondly, why did you wait so long to call an Uber? If you miss your flight, it’s on you, I’m thinking. So we rush and get there just before her flight. She’s all casual, like this plane is waiting on her. I was amazed by her cavalier attitude — all the way home, I just kept thinking, There’s no way she made it.
I drive a silver 2008 Nissan Rogue, I try to do four or five airport rides a day, but I fear driving around the airport looking for a rider. If you’re circling a terminal, you’re going to warrant suspicion. I don’t want the FAA to think I’m a terrorist threat.
I love driving in Atlanta at night. The city is lit up. People are having a great time. And you are just part of their experience. It could be an anniversary, a first date. And you’re going to either be a positive part or you’ll be that negative Uber story they tell over and over again.
My doctors told me that it’s the cancer you want to have if you’re going to get cancer. Which, frankly, is the dumbest thing I’d ever heard.
My average rating is 4.87; my total number of trips is 1,300 over the last year and nine months. I’m a single, 35-year-old guy, but I’ll never hit on my passengers. You don’t want to be that creepy Uber guy. The flexibility of Uber gives me the chance to figure out what I’m going to do next. Something new.
I don’t know if I’d have that mind-set if it hadn’t been for surviving cancer. I just hit five years of remission. In 2010, I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My doctors told me that it’s the cancer you want to have if you’re going to get cancer. Which, frankly, is the dumbest thing I’d ever heard, but I got their point.
After six months of chemo, I just wanted to get life back to normal. I started dating again, right out of the gate. And the problem with that, is that all you have to talk about is the fact that you just had cancer. And that’s not great first-date material at all.
So I started inserting more stuff into my life. I trained to run a 10K. Learned Web design. And I started Ubering. I’m also working on the second draft of a book. My working title is Wave Goodbye to Normal: Five Years From Cancer Surviving to Uber Driving. It’s half serious, half funny. I make it clear up front: This is not the Great American Cancer story. Whether you’re a cancer survivor or an Uber driver, all you can do is do the best you can.