(Long Beach, CA) Jeremiah Jennings was just your normal, average dude who had decided to join the contract-worker lifestyle by becoming an Uber driver. However, Jeremiah was anything but normal when it came to ride-share drivers. Mr. Jennings not only wasn’t working on a screenplay, app, or short-film, but Jeremiah didn’t do anything resembling work other than drive for Uber. “I treat it like any other 8-5 job, and when I come home, that’s when I unwind and get to my shows,” said Jeremiah Jennings while driving me to my daughter’s soccer game. We figured something must be up with this guy, and we were going to figure out what it was.
After I picked up my daughter Gwendolynn from her soccer practice, I had Jeremiah drive us to the local ice cream emporium for some celebratory snacks. I invited Jeremiah in and told him not to worry about turning the meter off. I wanted to pick his brain and see what was behind this man’s seemingly mad mind. “So J, what do you think you will do after you drop us off tonight? Any hobbies or past times you like to do when you’re off work?” I tried asking him over a double scoop.
“Oh, I’ll probably just go back and try to get to my shows before going to bed.”
“Great! What shows do you watch? We like to watch iZombie together,” I said, trying to make conversation and nudging Gwen who was playing on her phone.
“That’s not exactly what I meant by shows,” replied Jeremiah. “I don’t think you would have seen the shows I am referring to.” With that he got up and threw away the rest of his ice cream before going out to wait in the car.
Feeling awkward and confused, I finished my ice cream cone in silence and went back out to the car with my daughter. The ride home was silent as we made the trip back to our apartment. We exchanged casual goodbyes and went home to see how Jim was doing. He had been home sick with the flu for a couple of days and hadn’t been able to come to Gwen’s game.
After catching up on our days, I told my family about the idea I had come up with while I finished my ice cream cone earlier to see what they thought of it. I wanted to follow Jeremiah back to his house in order to see what he meant by ‘get to his shows.’ There was no way that he wasn’t working on a poetry collection or something. He was an Uber driver and nothing else, that was unheard of!
“Dad, I think you might need to take a deep breath and spend more time in your garden.”
“Listen, I don’t care what you do as long as you think it’s right. Why do you think I married you?”
With the full and unequivocal support of my family, I spent the evening trying to figure out where Jeremiah lived. The first place I tried was obviously the river, since that seemed to be the hip place to live according to my co-workers. I had no luck there, but I was told by a crabber there to check in the abandoned coal mine south of town. Apparently this was the new hipster neighborhood. Once I arrived I found myself almost choked by the combination of Joy Division’s music blaring and the coal dust in the air. I found Jeremiah living with his girlfriends in the Gumball district and rented an Airbnb across the street in order to spy on him. This turned out to be a great decision.
Upon looking through his bedroom window, I saw what Jeremiah had been referring to when he meant ‘shows.’ On the bed was an elaborate miniature stage constructed, it seemed, by hand. Upon the stage was a scene straight out of Les Miserables, except for all of the characters were not dolls or stuffed mice or anything else normal. No, this man was using old, used, oozing car batteries as his Val Jean all the way to his Gavroche.
What happened next, is how I ended up here in the hospital writing this. I was so baffled by what I was looking at, I leaned too far forward and fell out the window I had my telescope set up through. I landed smack dab on my chin and shattered 46 bones in my body. It’s been a wild ride. Well, I need to go swallow my daily dose of pain killers so I am going to leave you all with this nug of wisdom: no Uber driver is just an Uber driver.
That is something I was willing to break 46 bones in order to fully understand.
This article was written by Nathan Ellwood, who might be your driver someday soon. That sounded more forboding than I wanted. My bad. Follow him for more on Twitter @NPEllwood.