- AUTHOR: TOM CHIARELLA.TOM CHIARELLA CULTURE
- DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07.18.16.07.18.16
- TIME OF PUBLICATION: 2:56 PM.2:56 PM
THE ALTERNATE DELEGATE from Missouri is speaking. Pretty typical 2016 Republican National Convention chatter. Hillary Clinton? “The simple truth is, she’s just a bad person,” he calmly declares. President Obama? “He’s ruined pretty much everything.”
The alternate delegate from Missouri really punches his way from one point to the next. I mean, he’s really going on and on. Time ticks by, miles on the road, until he’s outlining the negatives inherent in trade unions. Really mansplaining things to me. Directly to me. Pouring the party platform in my ear. I’d even say literally in my ear, since he’s holding forth from the backseat of my car.
The alternate delegate from Missouri is a young guy, on an Uber ride late Sunday, from the Cleveland airport to a hotel in Akron. This after a series of cancelled flights and a set of lost luggage. Even so, he’s raring to go. The haircut? Annoyingly fresh. His beard: both disturbingly full and somehow trimmed wicked tight to the curve of his full cheek. His blazer: a little too snug, a little too blue. He was like an advertisement for what he was: 38. Male. White.
This was my passenger. My Uber fare. And me? His driver. The transporter. The amanuensis of his movement.
It’d been one day at the RNC for me. I’d decided not to argue or interject. I just tried to be fair to the fare. Be a transporter, I told myself. Never mind that I grew up in a house where the New York State teacher’s union put bread on our table. Never mind that I once gladly paid dues to the carpenter’s local.
I reminded myself of that: I am an Uber driver now. My sedan is a sacred vessel of Interstate 71. I Uber. Therein lies my peace.
Still, I was flustered enough to make a wrong turn.
About two weeks prior, I received a text from the ever-mysterious offices of Uber, inviting me to drive in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention. I hadn’t been driving a rideshare very long, but ratings from my passengers had been top notch. Why not? I drive a 10-year-old, high-mileage, BWM 7-series sedan and I never fail to hand out sticks of gum. I accepted the invitation and drove the six hours from my home outside Indianapolis to Cleveland, joining that city’s expanded Uber force for the week.
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