I opened the door to the black Toyota Camry and saw that my driver was a Malcolm Jamal-Warner—Theo Huxtable–lookalike. How exciting! He was well-dressed and affable. He was well on his way to being the nicest Uber driver I’ve ever had.
It wasn’t 10 seconds before he said, “I have a really difficult question for you.”
I like games. This sounded like a game. I excel at games. He was really well-dressed. I liked his sweater.
“What’s your all-time favorite… band?!”
The question was, dare I say, lame, but Malcolm came prepared and I didn’t want to let him down. He was dressed to the nines and fully loaded with infinity ice-breaker questions. He also had hand-sanitizer, waters, and a great chance of earning a 5-star rating.
I just sat there thinking. Really giving the question some thought. I take questions such as these seriously, but the reality is, I never have a definitive answer. I don’t think I’ve uncovered any new music since 1999. Vertical Horizon was hotter than hot then.
“OK, OK, how about a band you’re listening to.. now?”
Now the whole time I’m thinking Coldplay but I don’t think Malcolm is a Coldplay fan so I’m trying to think of something better. Radiohead? No, no, I haven’t been into them in years. Some time around 2006, something unclicked in my stupid head, and I just started liking any dude with a good voice and a guitar. I give myself just a few more years before I’m full-on country, singing about trucks and girls at the circus.
After 5 minutes, I just tucked my nutsack in and said, “Coldplay” opting to give Malcolm the real version of myself. Malcolm seemed really eager that he now had an answer and I immediately see him desperately attempt to tinker with his phone.
Oh, no. It wasn’t a game after all. He hoodwinked me. All this tomfoolery was just so he could show me that he could play my request like he was some super-DJ? I have an iPhone and headphones, Malcolm. I don’t need your free Pandora station. I’m sorry that’s mean but please watch the road!
Malcolm is a real stubborn guy and continued to put our lives in danger. He was really excited to try out this crazy thing called Pandora stations. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I pay the 9.99 for Spotify. He would have been crushed.
“It’s saying I’ve run out of stations!”
Malcolm was mortified. His Uber routine had hit a giant snag. And for this, I could muster up some real human empathy. I’ve had some magic tricks go haywire and boy, nothing can compare to that type of live humiliation let me tell you. One time a bunch of students laughed at me when I messed up a card trick and I can still hear them laughing
Malcolm was still trying to get Coldplay playing while we were going 65 mph on 93 North. I’d guess his eyes were on the road 40% of the entire ride. It really would have been the saddest possible way two humans could die. The papers would write, “Dying for Yellow” or something.
“I listen to a lot of podcasts,” I said, attempting to get him to give up the Pandora fight.
“Oh, yeah, I love podcasts.”
“Which ones do you listen to?” I felt a tinge of relief, believing my conversation starter would put Pandora to rest.
“Oh, I can’t think of any on the top of my head.”
And at this point in the Uber ride, somewhere just shy of exit 20, Malcolm became a fucking liar. He didn’t think I’d press on his podcast comment? Oh, what a miscalculation my friend. You’re a charlatan! You can’t think of a single podcast? That’s because you’re lying to me. You should have just told the truth, Malcolm. You don’t listen to any!
At this point in time, I had to know his real name and see if it was Malcolm. I remembered the Uber app tells you this. With baited breath I looked to see that it was…
Let me tell you, Anthony wouldn’t have cracked my top 100 guesses. His name was a lie too. We never got to listen to Coldplay on that ride and if “The Scientist” came on, I probably would have loved it and wanted to kill myself at the same time.
Now the story here doesn’t have much of an ending but a little trick I learned way back when is that when you have a joke or a story that bomb real bad, you let the silience kill you a bit and then you say,
“And then I found 20 bucks.”
Depending on how bad the story is, you increase the money. So in this case, I’d like to end by saying I found 100 bucks in the seat of that Uber.