Path to the Dead

Burger King! You cheap whore!

You flatter with eyes empty as my stomach, lips dripping with promises of untold charbroiled–then frozen-then thawed-then microwaved meat-like patty delights for only $8.26.

But after just moments (that's my fault) the truth is revealed: your way is a path to the dead, to that burning sh*t-dump outside the city walls where the wayward go to pay for their tasteless lusts, to Sheol*.

Damn you, Burger King. Damn you!

(I'll see you next week at our usual time. And wear those fishnets I bought you, for godssake… they were expensive.)

 …

* Sheol is proudly sponsored by Glacier Bay, Proven Quality at Affordable Prices!

Exposure

Two guys and a girl slide into a car on the corner of Central and Fleet at 1:30 on a Saturday morning. The light is red.

One guy says to the driver, "Hey, can you open your moon roof?" and the other says to the girl, "You should stand up." The light turns green.

The driver looks over to discover the girl is standing on the seat and squealing from somewhere above the car. He pulls over. "I don't want to get arrested…" he pleads. She sits; the guys laugh.

"Why are they laughing?" the driver asks the girl. A guy from the back said, "Because she was flashing people."

"Were you really flashing people?" the driver asks the girl. "Yeah… didn't you see my boobs?" she replied. 

"No, I was trying to not get arrested," he said, and drove to Federal Hill.

Ovation

Thanks to the broad spectrum of people I drive each day there's never any shortage of new things to be learned.

For example, tonight I learned that should I ever hookup with a stripper and receive a text a few days later beginning with "We need to talk…", there's a 68% chance I won't get the clap. Either way, it appears that sticking a giant needle in my arse will take care of it.

So no worries.

Agent Man

The other night I drove an elderly gentleman from Locust Point to Lutherville. He had been a beat cop in the City for 10 years then a DEA agent for 25 years when he was forced to retire, as DEA agents are around the age of 57. Since then he's been head of security at a local college.

Somehow we got to talking about teenagers and Agent Man said "you know, we thought we knew everything when we were young but we didn't know sh*t."

I laughed and said, "I know, and I've often wondered if in 20 years I'll look back at 43-year-old Jim and think he was an idiot."

"Oh yeah,"  Agent Man said matter-of-factly, "you definitely will. But not much changes after 50," he continued. "You just get irritated a lot faster and you have to pee more often."

I shared this with my father who is just a few years older than Agent Man. He laughed said, "Yep… that's about it."

"You Saved Me"

Just dropped off the most sh*tiest-facest rider to date.

  • I was the only car on the street; he was 15 yards behind me and couldn't find me.
  • He literally fell in the car.
  • I had to put his seatbelt on for him.
  • "The bars closed at 2:00am; it's 4:00am. Where've you been, dude?" (Reflective moment) "I don't know."
  • He was soaking wet from standing in the rain, ostensibly for two hours.
  • Conversation consisted of him muttering, murmuring, "Thhhanks man… you saved me", talking to his blank phone screen, laughing, gurgling, "you're awesome, man" (repeat)
  • I had to help him out of the car.
  • I had to help him to his front door, no easy task; he was a hefty dude and didn't want to stop looking in the window of his 175,000 mile red truck in the driveway.
  • He told me he loved me.

I love these people.

Being Kissed by a Stranger in the Dark… in an Uber

Being Kissed by a Stranger in the Dark… in an Uber

Ubering brings me into contact with scores of people. In the last four months alone I've provided over 1100 rides for complete strangers. The riders commonly consist of two people, sometimes three and the occasional foursome. Which means I've probably met over 3000+ people since the end of December. That’s amazing, isn't it? 3000+ people. I’ll usually ask or say something open-ended to see if there’s a conversation to be had. Sometimes their response is followed by a conversation, often not.

But something disquieting happens when a ride is viewed as a whole, from “hi” to “thanks for the ride,” what sometimes seems to me a juxtaposition of the shared human experience and the dehumanization of the same.

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Strap In

Earlier this evening I picked up a couple just a few years my senior in Canton and made a gutsy move to get us from A to B. "Finally," the wife said, "an Uber driver with some balls."

A moment later, while cruising down Boston St., she said, "Jim, I love your balls, but I'm putting my seatbelt on if it's all the same to you." Her husband and I burst out laughing.

(That is a phrase which any woman can say to any man in nearly any circumstance and it will make his day.)

Nothing

Tonight I drove a well oiled gentleman from The Red Room on the Block ("don't judge me based on where you picked me up") to Lil' Phil's Tavern in Fells and we found ourselves pondering the kids walking, stumbling, dancing and cartwheeling around (without ever looking away from their phones) on the corner of Aliceanna and S Broadway.

"Youth… it's wasted on the young," I said. "That is the truest f*cking cliche ever," said The Oiled One.

As it happens, I was considering this very phrase earlier in the day. "Okay, Jim," I thought, "what is it about youth that's being wasted and how are they wasting it?"

I made a list.

Then I thought, "Alright… let's put you in a 20–24 year old body while retaining the experience and knowledge you have now. What would you do differently than they?"

The answer didn't take long: "Nothing."

I'm still contemplating what that may or may not mean.

Naked Yoga

Naked yoga? Seriously? Hasn't anyone ever watched Seinfeld?

Ok… on the face of it I can see the appeal, much like Jerry and company saw the appeal when he dated the woman who didn't like wearing clothes. And it's all skin and games until someone needs to open a pickle jar or do sun salutations.

Yes, Jerry has shown us the way, and the way is clothing. Thank you, Jerry. Thank you.

Tentacles and a Box of Crayons

Here's how it works:

  • The Uber Driver app overlays a heat map on its normal map to tell us drivers where there's demand for rides.
  • The heat map goes from Light Orange to Blood Red to Really Damn Red depending on the demand. (Yes, Really Damn Red is a color. Check your jumbo Crayola box.)
  • More demand = greater probability of ride requests and surge fees.

E.g., Friday and Saturday nights after 2:00am, Charles St. in Fed Hill is Really Damn Red — and blocked off by police so the kids don't get run over — weekday mornings and late afternoons go from Orange to Somewhat Red (also in the Crayola box) in Fed, Fells, Canton, Towson and Essex.

Except this week.

This week the heat maps don't exist. At all. Nowhere. Not even in Towson, usually an ever evolving orgy of orange/red.

(No, there is no Orange-Red Orgy in the Crayola box. I checked.)

Monday afternoon–evening I received 6 ride requests in 4 hours. Yesterday morning 4 in 4 hours. This morning 0 ride requests in 3 hours. Actually, there was a Light Orange spot on the map somewhere up 95 when I left the house but by the time I exited the Tunnel it was gone.

I drove around 695 to 83, 83 to Fayette, Fayette to Charles and Penn Station, to St. Paul to the harbor to Fells to Canton.

Zilcho (also not a color in the Crayola box). In fact, even the city traffic itself has been ghostly in comparison to its normally frustrating, hellrific self.

All of which adds up to No Money. No Money is bad. Spring Break is killing me. Perhaps I should have driven to Florida for the week, or wherever the kids exorcise their primal urges these days.

So what does a boy do when he makes no money? A boy spends money, of course! On a consolation latte at Starbucks, in this case. Truth be told, I had enough stars for a free drink so I spent my consolation money on an Old-Fashioned Doughnut.

A boy also occupies himself with cataloging various apartment names throughout the City. You see, the City is frantically gentrifying itself, part of which includes repurposing those grand old buildings with many being converted to apartments or condos of one kind or another. I'm curious to see what they look like on the inside and I want to look them up on the interweb.

So I would say aloud, "Hey Siri…" (Siri sound) "…make a note." (Siri sound) "OK, I can do that. What would you like your note to say?" (Siri sound) And I would say, "1201 North Charles Apartments" or "Equitable Apartments dot com". And then Siri would say, (Siri sound) "Ok, I've made your note. It says 'Equitable Apartments dot com'", etc.

The last note I told Siri to make before my consolation latte/doughnut was "Tindeco Wharf dot com." (Siri sound) "Ok, I've made your note. It says 'Tentacle Porn dot com'".

I nearly drove off the road.