The Daily Commute: Sometimes Family Is Just A Six Letter Word

October 30, 2017 | by Mark Stephen O'Neal

It was Friday, October 27; and I had a difficult time getting ready for work that morning. I went to bed at my normal time and didn’t wake up tired, but getting the motor running was a challenge for me. My wife had trouble getting it going too, and she forgot her mini-purse with her ID’s and money in it. She texted me and thought she left the purse on the passengers side seat of her car, but I informed her that her purse was on the kitchen table.


Now the clock read 8:50 am, and I was going to miss my train. My only other options were to fight traffic and drive to work or call off. I chose the first option, and surprisingly, traffic was steady all the way to the Canal Street exit on the Dan Ryan Expressway. I proceeded to get off the Interstate at the Canal Street exit and took the street the rest of the way to a parking lot a mile away from the job.


I was already ten minutes late for work, so I decided to take an Uber from the lot to the job. And here’s where things got interesting. Once I paid my seven dollars for parking and put the ticket on my dashboard, I requested an Uber driver to pick me up at the entrance of the lot. The driver was a minute away and got there in less time than the app indicated. He passed up the entrance and double-parked a half of a block away from the lot. I subsequently checked the license plate to make sure that I had the correct driver. There was barely enough room between the Uber driver’s SUV and the parked car, and I thought I could get in without complications. I didn’t get in on the drivers side because of the fact that I’m an Uber driver also and don’t like people sitting directly behind me, so I gave the driver the courtesy.


I squeezed myself in, but I lightly bumped his door against the parked car. I said hello afterwards, and it appeared that he nodded and said something under his breath, but I wasn’t sure. He then hit me with a question: You hit my door, bruh? And my response was: I tapped it...accidentally. The truth was I could’ve knocked on the door of a house harder than I hit the parked car door. I can be a little anal when it comes to my car also, but this was a bit extreme.


There was silence for the first half of the ride as I checked my email, and I glanced at the Uber driver’s profile and saw that he had been driving for the same length of time as I have (1.5 years). His rating was 4.74—which was respectable but relatively low for someone who has been driving as long as he has. I also checked the dollar amount of my fare and noticed that it tallied up to be $6.66—a bad omen to come. Then I revisited his profile picture and looked up at him as I realized that he looked familiar. He looked at me out of his peripheral vision, and I finally asked him if he knew my cousin. His response was yes, he’s my grandfather, and I told him that his grandfather and I were first cousins and that he looked familiar. This broke the ice, or so I thought.


I proceeded to tell him that I remembered meeting him at my cousin’s birthday party a year prior and ran off the names of the people in our family; and he said, Damn, you have a good’re family. Small world, I thought, but it wasn’t a coincidence that I ended up in his car. Technically, I’m not related to this guy even though we belong to the same tribe—his mother is my cousin’s stepdaughter, but that’s neither here or there. Even though I’ve probably had only two or three encounters with this Uber driver in my life, I still considered him family.

We continued to small talk about the family until we arrived at my building, and I shook his hand before departing his vehicle. I tried to close out the fare and rate him before entering the building but couldn’t—I observed that he hadn’t pull off yet as I stepped inside of the building and showed the security guard my ID. He got out and walked around to the passengers side of his SUV to check the door. My gut told me that he was going to screw me on my rating, but I ignored my instincts and rated him a five-star rating anyway. I also gave him a two dollar tip as a driver’s courtesy. 


Much to my chagrin, I discovered that so-called cousin had rated me a two—the Holy Spirit revealed to me that he would’ve rated me a one if it weren’t for the fact that we’re family. He also revealed  that I must turn the other cheek in regard to my cousin. As a Christian, I have to forgive, but I don’t have to like it.


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