Ironically, I was in the middle of a involved conversation with my driver about how safe and comfortable Uber made me feel as a woman – when his phone announced that Sarah would be joining the pool.
I was telling him about my college internship in the city. How I’d often find myself in Pilsen or Little Village at night, needing to get to the train to go home to my parents – when we pulled up to her address.
How there were never cabs in those areas, so I’d have to plan ahead and call cab companies at least an hour in advance to make sure I had a ride. How more often than not, the cab never showed up, and I wouldn’t be sure how I was getting home that night, but I was lucky enough to have great internship sponsors who looked out for me – when I saw her.
She was carrying an open Corona bottle. It was 10:14 p.m. I knew right then that this was not going to be worth the $10 I was saving. I had been blowing a lot on rides home from improv class for the past few months, but I’m not good with money in general, so who did I think I was kidding? Uber pool was not going to be the change that turned my finances around.
She slid into the other back seat, Corona still in hand. From the first moment, I could tell she’d be a talker. She mentioned she was on her way to work – at a strip club off of the highway not far from my apartment. I immediately did the mental equivalent of a double-take.
I’m terrible at controlling my facial reactions to anything (it’s not unusual for me to just cover my face and say ‘fuck’ 50 times), so the shock most definitely registered on my face like, “I don’t recall asking what you did for a living, or why you have an open container of alcohol in a car, but no biggie…”
I had just spent three hours in class, after a full day of work, and didn’t feel like talking to anyone, regardless of their profession, but sure enough, as she continued to spew personal details, I felt like I was running yet another exercise in an absurd scene where I had to learn to agree with my scene partner, but this was by far crazier than anything me or my improv classmates had come up with that night.
Here is a list of everything I learned about her:
- She had recently started working at a new club
- Her work name was Crystal
- She quit her job at the last club after a tiff with a former co-worker
- Apparently strip clubs have something between a sorority house-mom and a bathroom attendant to help supply the girls with any items they might need, like tampons
- I had to listen to a long list of this “Old Club Mom’s” character flaws
- She had a “new” boyfriend, who picks her up after work sometimes, but may or may not be coming tonight
- Her ex had a long list of character flaws too
- She had grown up on the South side
- She had learned every single street in Chicago by memorizing Google maps
- She had a tattoo of a compass rose on her arm
- She wanted to be geography major
I had not asked a single question to spur this deluge of intimate details, only remarking “Oh, really?” or “Interesting” in between her monologues because it was a 20 minute car ride on the highway, and she kept sliding closer and closer and touched me at one point, and I have never wanted to jump out of a moving vehicle more in my life, because even though I guess I’m a touchy-feely person with close friends and family, it’s actually pretty rare for me to really feel comfortable being touched by other people, but it would have been even more awkward if I had just straight up ignored her.
She whipped out her phone and asked me if I wanted to be Facebook friends with her (her profile had a third name that was not Sarah or Crystal) – I told her I didn’t have Facebook. She asked if I wanted to be Snapchat friends – I told her I did not have Snapchat. Did she want to share food videos and puppy-face pictures with me? I’ll never know. I just thank god she did not ask for my phone number, because I wouldn’t have been able to tell her I ordered that Uber via carrier pigeon.
I’ve always had this thing with strangers. The weird ones flock to me. I remember being in the the grocery store with my mom in high school and the googley eyed deli guy telling me, “Enjoy your cheeeeese”. We still laugh about it to this day. I don’t know if I’m too polite or what, but I really want to know what makes me seem so approachable to the people I least want to talk to. Is there something written on my forehead that only they can read that says, “COME HERE, THIS GIRL WILL TALK TO YOU AND WON’T BE ABLE TO ESCAPE THE CONVERSATION.” I have a huge forehead, so it’s definitely plausible that phrase could fit.
When we finally got to my neighborhood, I told the driver he didn’t have to go around the block to get to my one-way street, that I could just walk (I didn’t want her to see my address). I got out of the car, and safely inside my apartment to process what had just happened. Long story short, I don’t take Uber pool anymore because I prefer to pay extra for the luxury of boring the driver with my own personal anecdotes. No one has jumped out of a moving car, yet, and my rating is a 4.87, so listening to my bullshit must be worth the $10.