UBER Chronicles

Had a Bad Day…

By Brian Kruse

I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day when I woke up to the sound of a text from my bank informing me I only had twenty dollars left in my account. I’d hoped I could sleep for a couple more hours, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had to get up for a job interview. I used to get excited at the prospect of a job interview, but at this point, interviews are just a source of despair for me as I associate them with rejection; I’m inevitably told that I just don’t have enough experience and that they went with someone else.

But, in the hopes that this may be The One, I never turn down a job interview. As I got ready for my appointment, I made the unfortunate discovery that somehow I had lost my last earbud. Yes, the pair of earbuds I had were long since broken up. Only one of the members had continued to perform, but now even she had abandoned me in my time of need. I’d hope to spend the time in transit catching up on podcasts, but apparently that wasn’t going to be the case. I would have to listen to whatever the Uber driver was playing.

Sometimes I feel like my blindness makes me invisible to Uber drivers as they have the tendency to drive right past me even though I’m the only person standing where they are supposed to pick up and I’m holding a phone. Maybe it’s something psychological that the driver experiences. Maybe they just assume that they won’t have a blind passenger and, if they just travel on a little further, they’ll find the able-bodied passenger they were supposed to meet. I phoned the driver to see where he was, and he informed me that he “must have driven right past you, somehow.”

He eventually picked me up and we were on our way. It turned out the Uber driver’s name was Brian. Which is also my name! I know this because he pointed this out to me twice. He popped in a CD—yes, it was actually a CD—of the soundtrack to the Johnny Cash/Willie Nelson Storytellers episode from the late 90’s. Maybe this day won’t be so bad after all, I thought. I haven’t listened to this album in a while. Brian and I had a nice conversation about Cash, Nelson, and other members of the Highwaymen.

We had to pick up one more person before we exited Rogers Park. Brian passed Ruth, my fellow Uber passenger, as well. “Perhaps this dude is really just mellow,” I thought, “And his passing me up had nothing to do with me being blind.” Brian gave Ruth a detailed tour of all the neighborhoods we were going to be driving through on our way downtown to drop her off. She was in town from Montana for a sales trip and couldn’t believe how many great things there were in the city.

Shortly after dropping Ruth off, Brian told me that his phone was acting up and his GPS had stopped working, so the directions weren’t coming up for him for the next leg. He asked for the address again and said we could just head up west on Madison and we should run into it eventually.

The Johnny Cash/Willie Nelson CD had come to an end. I checked my phone to see what time it was. 12:30. I’d been in the Uber for an hour and we were stuck in downtown traffic. I began to worry that I wasn’t going to make it to my 1 o’clock interview on time. Brian decided to pop in a Nora Jones CD. I’m not really a big Jones fan, but I definitely don’t hate her. I could just pretend I’m in a dentist’s office. As we made our way down Madison, Brian asked if I knew what neighborhood we were going to. “No”, I told him, but I assumed it was near the West Loop somewhere.

“It’s definitely not in the West Loop,” he told me. “I think we’re getting into a pretty rough area.”

“Y’know, this Nora Jones is probably not the best music to get you hyped up for the interview. Let me put on the radio and see if we can find you some rock to get you pumped up.” He turned on the radio to a Bruce Springsteen song. I fucking hate Springsteen, but decided rather than discuss the merits of The Boss with an Uber driver I’ve only known an hour and twenty minutes, I would just check my phone and see how we were doing on time. It was 12:55.

I asked Brian how far out we were and he said he wasn’t sure. His phone was completely frozen and couldn’t even get Siri to pull up directions. Despite Brian’s thorough knowledge of North Side neighborhoods, he was lost and confused on the West Side. This despite the fact that all the buildings have numbers on them.

I tried to give Siri directions on my phone, but it kept saying it didn’t know my location. Maybe technology was turning on both of us. Brian decided to pull up at a gas station to ask for directions while I called the interviewer to inform him I was not going to make it on time. When he got back in the car, he had a pretty good idea as to where we were going. He apologized for making me late. I told him it’s ok. He said, “No, it’s not.”

It seemed like we were going to finally make it to the interview. We were at the intersection next to the location when, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of screeching brakes and the crashing of metal. The vehicle jerked to the left while my head bounced to the right, hitting the window in the melee.

“Oh wow,” Brian said. “Are you all right?” It sounded like he was talking to me from under the steering wheel.

“Um yeah,” I responded uncertainly. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, Brian,” as he got out of the car.

My arm was starting to hurt and I was beginning to realize I had just been in a car accident. I knew I wasn’t bleeding or anything, but I felt pretty banged up. As I sat in the car, I could hear the other driver talking with Brian.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Can’t you see there’s a stop sign there? You just drove past the goddamn stop sign!”

“Are you alright?” Brian responded.

“Hell, no I’m not alright! Couldn’t you see there’s a fucking stop sign there?”

Brian got me out of the car. I still felt pretty shaky from the experience, but I knew I didn’t need to go to the hospital, and I certainly wasn’t going to come back for another fucking interview. So, I decided to walk in to the place. As I was signing in in the waiting room, I could hear residents and staff talking about the wreck outside.

“It’s a wonder nobody’s dead,” said one.

One of those talking was Craig, my interviewer. We shook hands and I mentioned that I had just come from the car accident out front. I sort of got the feeling he didn’t believe me. But maybe that’s because most normal people wouldn’t have come straight from a car accident into a job interview.

The interview went well enough, though admittedly not one of my best. I’m not expecting to hear from Craig this week about a follow-up. I called an Uber to drive me home. I asked the driver if the accident was still out front. “Yeah, definitely,” she answered. “Can’t even get through that way; we’re gonna have to go around.”

I told the driver that that had been my previous Uber. “No shit? You know you need to report that to Uber right away. You didn’t go to the hospital or anything?”

“No,” I told her. “I just went to my job interview.”

“You should probably go to the hospital,” she said. “Especially if you hit your head. Just to get it checked out.”

We were driving past Rush, one of the hospitals in the area, and she offered to drop me off. I declined; I would rather wait until I got home to have someone take me. Being blind, I was worried about going alone and having to fill out tons of paperwork.

When I got home, my friends Jason and Charity helped me get to an urgent care facility where I learned that, because I mentioned being in a car accident, they would not accept my Medicare as the person responsible for my accident should have to pay. I explained to her that I didn’t have the person’s insurance information. She told me I could just go to an ER then. At this point, I had already taken up a couple hours of my friends’ time and didn’t feel that having to start all over would be the best choice. I was feeling nauseous and starting to ache all over, so I just paid out of pocket for the time being so that I could see for-once-and-for-all what my problems were.

It turns out I was fine. The doctor ran X-rays and went over all the warning signs for a concussion. I paid for the services with my debit card and, for the second time in one day, I received a friendly text from my friendly bank reminding me that my funds were dangerously low.

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