“Your mission, if you should choose to accept . . . “
As an Uber driver, unless the fare is an amateur-green-at-the-gills-drunk, my mission is to give ‘em the ride they want. Period.
Sometimes I receive texts from my fares. I could be my rider telling me to wait in front of the red car in the driveway; or, letting me know he’s the big guy with the San Clemente Triton hoodie in front of MathWorks, always a good sign that the future is bright.
This time, however, I was to pick up Jason. Two minutes up the road, my iPhone dinged.Incoming text. The message was too long for me to read without causing an accident. The signal turned red. I could read it without risking my life.
“Proceed to xxxx in the San Clemente Business Park, pick up a package from Leon, then deliver it to Josh at xxxx Company in Anaheim. Thank you. Jason.”
So, Jason, the name of the rider, was not human. Rather, a package. The directions were clear. My writer’s brain engaged my what-if gears.
What if it’s drugs? What if it’s a million dollars? The data for the takeover? Something that the sender and receiver couldn’t risk being seen transporting on the 55 Freeway?
I drove to the Business Park on top of the hill, marched into xxxx Company. Reception desk, empty. Offices beyond the reception desk, empty. Not a sound. Dead space.
“Hello, you’re here?” The man popped up from a cubicle. He had to be a computer programmer. Plastic pocket guard. Three mechanical pencils. Didn’t look like Cosa Nostra.
“You’re a delivery person? Here to get the package?”
“I’m an Uber driver. Yes, I’m supposed to get a package.”
“Funny, you’re not wearing a uniform. Very strange, sending Uber.”
“I have a T-shirt, but it’s for Uber Car Pool and that’s only in San Francisco.” I could tell this was too much information.
He handed me two square Mylar packages. They were heavy, but not heavy enough to be a bomb. Or a brick of marijuana [do they still make those?] “Sign here.”
“What’s in here? Inquiring delivery people need to know.” I squeezed the packages.
“LED lights. For an awning. On a motorhome.”
I placed the packages on the passenger seat. [Rides have the option to sit in front or back.] I didn’t offer it a lifesaver. Or remind it to use the seatbelt.
Silence for the next 45-minutes. I kind of miss the usual . . . “So, how long you been Ubering? . . . How do you like it?”
At last, I wound my way through a forest of motorhomes, in various stages of upgrades, to the front office. I stopped the car and reached for the package.
It winked at me.