I’m not even sure how to roll this story out, but it’s had me rollin’ with laughter all evening. So I’ll start at the beginning…
I decided to pick up some Uber passengers for a few hours the other day, and ended up at JFK where a group of sorority chicks were carpooling back to Midtown. The whole hour we’re stuck in traffic on the Grand Central Parkway they’re spilling sorority house tea about loathed fremenies and ex-boyfriends. It was kinda of interesting in a “let me get my popcorn” sort of way, but I was glad when I finally dropped them off on 2nd Ave near the Queensboro Bridge. The four got out and gave sisterly hugs while I stretched my legs after a long ride. The next request came as I got back in, and I was off to get an Upper East Sider just a few blocks away. It wasn’t until I was waiting for her to come out that I noticed how the sorors had left a bag of clothes in my backseat (which wasn’t nearly as interesting as other things, apparently, people leave in Ubers across the country.) I rolled my eyes. “Great. Now I’m gonna have to get this bag back to the gossip girls.” Several minutes into the passenger’s ride, my phone rang. I let it go to voicemail. Sure enough, it was one of the sorority chicks confirming that she’d left her bag and wanted me to call her back so we could arrange for her to retrieve it. Since I was going all the way down to lower Manhattan, I wasn’t sure I would be willing to bring the bag to her immediately. But, I had to take into consideration that a) at least I wasn’t in Brooklyn yet, and b) that one time I’d forgotten my laptop in the trunk of an Uber driver after a trip from JFK, and how gracious he was to meet me and give it back. I called Sorority Girl after Ms. Upper East Side got out by World Trade Center and told her that while I didn’t really have intentions of coming back to Midtown, I would bring the bag to her since I was still in the city. She thanked me and said that she’d be happy to pay me for my time. Whatever, I thought, convinced that she’d hardly be paying enough for my actual time.
Taking over forty minutes to get back up to 52nd and 2nd, I waited for Sorority Girl to show up to get her bag. “Thanks soooo much,” she gushed. “Oh my gosh, you’re a lifesaver!” She handed me a $10 bill. I couldn’t help but think about the $18-25 I would have earned during that same forty minutes had she not forgotten her bag in my car. But, here we were. “Be humble,” I chuckled in my mind, singing Kendrick Lamar’s admonishing lyrics back to myself. “And you have such a pretty voice!” she noted of the little greeting I sing for callers on my voicemail. “Thanks, glad you have your bag back.” I was pretty much over the exchange because the last place I wanted to be was in Midtown traffic on Sunday evening. But at least I could turn my Uber app back on and get one more passenger that hopefully wasn’t going to Jersey.
The very next passenger request was two avenues over from where I’d met SG. “Score!” I sped across 1st Ave heading towards the address. The passenger was not ready when I arrived, so I sat reading a Mark Manson article on my phone until I heard a tap on the window. When I looked up, the most gorgeous face peered in. I unlocked the doors and he climbed into the backseat. At this point, I’m trying not to stare because my passenger looks JUST like the very attractive and charismatic Bradley Cooper, of The Hangover fame! I confirm that he’s going to the Wythe Hotel, a pretty popular social destination. “Oh, great! You’re going to Williamsburg? Perfect. I live in Brooklyn, so you’re definitely my last passenger of the day.” We both laughed. Then he gets a bright idea. “I’ve never been to Brooklyn before,” he confided in a thick Brazilian accent. “I’m going for the first time now. Do you think you can show me around? Before we get to the hotel.” He said that he was from Rio de Janeiro, worked in finance and was relocating to the city for work. Wanted a little tour of the Brooklyn neighborhoods he considered moving to so that he could get a sense of where he’d like to live. If the meter was on, I was all for it. Then he leans forward, with all his Rio hotness. “Um, do you mind if I sit up here with you?” I stammered, “You want to sit up here?” I actually hate when passengers want to sit up front next to me, but he was so gorgeous how could I say no? “Uh, sure!” So, at a red light, Brazilian Bradley Cooper hops out of the back and gets into the front passenger seat. At this point, I’m doing all I can to NOT swoon and drool all over him! His hair was so wavy and luscious! Baby blues, poppin! But I can’t help grinning like a total dork. Something about super handsome guys within grabbing distance makes me so giddy! “Relax! Relate! Release, girl!” I think over and over while driving down towards the Manhattan Bridge. We were making some pretty delightful small talk about Carnival and New Year’s Eve on the Copacabana, petty theft crimes in Rio and I’m thinking, this dude is wayyyy cool! Until he goes, “Hey can you hold on, it’s my wife.” Drats! Of course freakin’ Brazilian Bradley Cooper is married! And totally answering his wife’s texts right now like a dutiful husband… Which was completely reasonable AND expected, given that I was simply his Uber driver! “This isn’t the movies, Mai Mai!” I smirked. “You aren’t gonna meet any handsome Prince Charmings in your Uber… Simmer down!”
Anyway, we continue our conversation and he’s asking all about Williamsburg, how big it is, and how close it is to the city. But all I hear is the Charlie Brown teacher voice “..womp.. womp.. womp..woompp” because his striking bone structure and complexion are keeping me from paying attention to what he’s actually saying to me. I pretend to be the world’s most knowledgeable Uber driver on Brooklyn real estate and make up some details about the neighborhoods that I think he’ll find interesting. And he’s totally buying everything I have to say. Then he asks me something that, even NOW as I think back on it, I can’t make clear sense of what he was trying to ask through his thick accent and measured English. But, in THAT moment, I thought he was asking me to JOIN HIM at the Wythe for a cocktail. My heart beat a little faster. I’m thinking, “Didn’t I just hear him say something about his wife??” I slow down for the red light. “What did you just say?” Something was lost in translation. “Are you asking if I want to join you for a drink? At the hotel??” I point blank asked him in the most silly move ever! The question marks and sheer embarrassment across his face confirmed that he, in fact, was NOT asking me to join him for drinks at the Wythe, nor anything else other than a tour of Brooklyn during this one and only Uber ride.
I wanted to get out of the car at the red light and just let him drive himself across the Manhattan Bridge. “No, I was trying to say, can you also take me around Williamsburg before the hotel so I can see how big the neighborhood is.” There are no words for how hard I’d played myself. Kendrick popped up in my mind again even louder. “Hold up, Mai! Be HUMBLE! ..SIT DOWN!” Brazilian Bradley Cooper still looked confused about why I was questioning him, so I laughed it off. “Ohhhh! Is THAT what you meant?? I totally misunderstood. You want to see more of Williamsburg before the hotel” …not me! I added under my breath. I was both relieved that he wasn’t actually asking me out despite having a wife, but also still wished his wife was moreso imaginary than the fine committed life partner and mother of his children that I’m sure she is. “No, that’s totally cool. We can add Williamsburg to the Uberlicious Brooklyn Tour. It’s all good, homie!”
It was a little awkward for all of three more blocks, but between my playlist and his genuine excitement about getting to neighborhood hunt in Brooklyn, the conversation lightened up before we knew it. We made it across the bridge listening to The Fugees, Badu, Yarbrough & Peoples, and Aretha Franklin as I gave him the skinny on Park Slope, Prospect Park, and Bed Stuy dynamics. Driving up Bedford Avenue, he was amazed to notice everything from the armory shelter for homeless men to the Orthodox Jewish community all abuzz on Sunday evening. We laughed and talked some more about Brazil and Brooklyn, and I showed him a few more places before it was finally time for him to jump out. “Alright! Thanks so much for the ride…. Longest but best Uber ride ever!” And I watched him walk away swooning, “Brazilian Bradley Cooper!!! Definitely the most handsome, and embarrassing, Uber passenger I’ve ever had. Five stars!!! I’ve got to get to Rio soon, though!”