When I pick you up next time, I’m pretty sure I will be a millionaire because I’m playing the lottery today!
Why? Just one word (that may not be a word at all..) THREEPRISE!
When my favorite band Phish busted out a Tweezer “Threeprise” (aka “Tweeprize”) last year in Merriweather Post Pavillion, MD for one of the few times in there thirty something years of jamming, I felt unbelievably fortunate to be there.
Last night, when I picked up the perky Rylee, for the third night in a row...in Fayetteville/Manlius, I knew I had a date with destiny!
Now, I’m no mathematician, but let’s try to ballpark the odds of me picking up the same rider who lives close to 20 miles (25 minutes) from me on three successive nights.
Number of rides I’ve had in 7 months: 1540
Number of pick-ups I’ve had in either Fayetteville/Manius: 18 (including these 3)
Avg. number of hours I drive Uber in a 7-day week: 40 (5.5 per night)
Avg. number of days I drive Uber per week:5.5
Estimated number of Uber riders in Syracuse: 75,000?
Number of times I’ve picked up the same passenger more than 2x over 7 months: 9
Additional Factors: Avg. distance from Uber passenger at the time of Uber driver acceptance of ride (2 miles or 7-10 minutes).
3 different times of pick up for Rylee between 9pm – 12:30pm
So let’s see, if I’d doing this equation correctly in my head, it looks something like this:
…carry the four and voila! The answer is “F#*%#ck if I know but the odds have to be astromomical!!!
I’m pretty sure Rylee, an attractive, early twenty-something bartender at Stingers in Manlius, was as astounded as I was (especially since none of the pick-ups or drop offs were at her place of work!). By the third night, it truly felt like frickin’ speed dating complete with her best friend telling me to “treat her right and get her home safe” when I picked her up!
Rylee: “My dad’s name is Greg too…”
Me: “You were obviously raised well then…”
Rylee: “if you get me again tomorrow, that would be insane.”
Me: “If I get you again tomorrow we will have to elope! We must not tempt the God’s!”
So, Rylee, when I win the lottery tonight (or whenever Powerball is drawn next), we will be set for life! The God’s will most certainly bring us back together through Uber so we can drive off into the sunset to our destiny unbound! Lucky, lucky you!..
Here I go…the winning ticket no question in my mind…Hey! You never know…
In this Ubservations, Rylee gave me permission to use her name and place of work (well duh, when I win the lottery she has it writing that she will get a cut!!) Image from “Hangover”
I picked up “Brett” around 12:30pm last night at a fully dark Applebees parking lot. He looked a little shaken up…I could see sweat glistening off his forehead and neck from the street lights, a paleish hue, and short heavy breathes. “Hey Brett,” I welcomed him, Closing tonight?” I asked.
“No, I work at Taco Bell down the road but I had to get out of there,” he answered. “What’s up?” I inquired…and then he opened up…
Apparently, the one of the night managers called out the other night manager during the shift saying he was lazy and worthless…Like a match to dynamite, this set off the accused in a fit of machismo rage. They got in each others faces ready to go at it. Screaming and shouting gave way to shirts coming off and threats of a “high-school parking lot” like showdown…
Ok, big deal you say…manager fight among two adults…big deal Dr. Griff…
But wait! Apparently the accused dude, who was much smaller than the other guy (who Brett described as looking like a linebacker on a pro-football team) called his posse who were there in a matter of minutes…EQUIPPED WITH GUNS AND KNIVES!
Did I mention that the Taco Bell drive through was open while all this was going on?! One of the unassuming drive through customers (I’m imagining just out of work himself looking to have a nighttime Steak Chalupa with a few soft tacos and those delicious cinnamon twists) witnessed the group of gang-bangers in the parking lot and called the cops.
“Brett” and the other Taco Bell staff apparently slinked out of there as things esculated (“Wow! Look at the time! Well, it’s been fun but I really got to get home to feed the dog..)
“Brett said that, as he made his way out and to safety, that the cops and the gang were having some sort of stand off outside of Taco Bell as he faded into the darkness.
Who said nothing interesting ever happens in Syracuse! You can’t make this shit up!
Prologue: I didn’t see anything in the news today about deaths or injuries at Taco Bell last night…so that’s a good thing.
The poor schmuck in line who called the cops never got his steak chulupa…
One of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
is “Begin with the End in Mind.” So, I figured the place to start our
“Ubservations” journey together, is where I, and I’m assuming, every other Uber
driver in Syracuse, ultimately end up every time they drive – Syracuse
There are 22,000+ students enrolled at S.U. Virtually all of
them have Uber accounts and they are NOT afraid to use them! The average
duration of a ride for a student? 5 minutes. The most popular pick-up and drop
off points (in order)? Dorms and other student living facilities, bars, frats
and sororities, restaurants with bars, dining halls (do they have bars in the
dining halls?), library, class. Now, by no means do I mean to suggest that SU
students are essentially lazy and drunk (thinking Animal House’s Dean Wormer
telling Blutowski “Fat, Drunk, & Stupid is no way to go through life son”).
To the contrary…
First, I drive mostly at night from 9p – 2a or later so
naturally, my rides will not include as many academic destinations. Second, it
is Syracuse in the winter…that 5-minute drive might be a perilous 15- minute
walk up and down the hilly knolls of campus (yes, I’m sure I’ve told the
ageless tale about walking up and down hills for miles in the snow to get to
class when I was younger to at least a few completely uninterested student
With close to 25% of my rides coming from the University, my perspective on Syracuse University students is a work in progress. However, things really came into focus on one snowy Wednesday night I now refer to as “Hamster Wheel.” Over the course of 2 ½ hours, I literally drove in circles around campus picking up and dropping off students; a virtual microcosm of the collective student body in my car. What is the definition of insanity? Yes, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result…
My journey onto the wheel started with a pick up of four Indian Information
Technology students at Destiny USA coming from the movie “Gully Boy.” On the chatty
ride to campus, they taught me “kya haal hai (what’s up?) and “tumhaaree raat
achchhee beete” (Have a good night) in Hindi just in case I ever Ubered them
again (because I’m certain I will remember how to pronounce either!)
“Rico” rushes into my car from Brewster Dorm. He needs to make a quick
stop at the college store to pick up an item for his fraternity pledge packet
on his way to his first house meeting…he has 11 minutes to get there or else! He
nervously practices the Greek alphabet on the ride scolding himself when he
gets caught up on Phi, Chi, Psi…Good karma ensues as we see two of his
fraternity brothers trudging through the snow towards the house. I offer to
pick them up and I do! Hopefully that will save him from the basement or
whatever frats do to pledges now when they mess up the Greek Alphabet under
At Bird Library, I pick up “Meghan,” a sophomore film student focused
on the horror genre. She’s passionate and determined and so nice…I think that
perhaps a future in rom-coms might be a better pursuit but perhaps she has a dark
side that will make her the next Wes Craven or John Carpenter?!
Three sophomore co-eds wearing mini-skirts, spaghetti strap tops, and
high-heeled pumps hop in at the dorm…apparently headed to a party that “Mark”
will be at and they contemplate whether “that bitch Lainey will be fawning all
over him.” It is 10 degrees and snowy…My parental instincts kick in and I ask
the girls where their jackets are? “Elisa” says, “my dad would say the same
thing.” Ok, I feel old but validated!
“Ryuki” who goes by “Pete” hops in. He’s headed to Starbuck’s to meet a
late-night study group for an upcoming exam in international relations. He’s a Freshman
from outside of Tokyo studying in the Maxwell School. Man, I never knew how
many international students’ attend Syracuse University…but the ones I have met
are super impressive! We better up our game in this country if we expect to
compete in the global economy.
Two first-year law students hop in fresh off a meeting for their
upcoming competition trial in Pittsburgh, PA… “Mark” and “Elle” both say law
school is kicking their asses but see a bright outlook for the future…I drop
them off at the popular bar, “The Orange.” “Conversational Cocktailing” must
also be a law school core discipline.
I pick up “Tess” and “Jake” all dressed to the hilt…they were on a date
night! Taking them back to his off-campus apartment I find out it is one of
their first dates. She seems to be very into him. They are laughing and
flirting. I’m certain I’m thinking the same thing he is about his prospects for
the rest of the night…Crap! I’m a dirty old man…
Off to one of the sororities to pick “Jen” an upper-class sister,
heading to the dorm to hang out with her “little, and her little’s little aka
her “grand little?” So, this is the sister whom “Jen” adopted when she was
pledging and the sister whom her “little” adopted currently as she goes through
pledging. Sounds like a nice family affair…three co-ed sorority girls bonded by
sisterhood hanging out in their dimly lit dorm room drinking, laughing, pillow fig…crap…sorry.
I pick up “Dillon” from California and his two buddies from Connecticut
and Long Island at Day Hall on Mt. Olympic…Man, are they stoned to the bejesus!
Pie-eyed and laughing like Beavis and Butthead (and Butthead) “Dillion” is complaining
that the dope out here doesn’t compare to the “kush” he gets back home. Well, “Dillion,”
either you and your boys imported your shit from Cali, discovered Vermont, or
your complaint just doesn’t hold water…I’m pretty sure you devoured two or
three full pies at the Acropolis where I dropped you off…
I finally got off the hamster wheel when I picked up a well-spoken African-American Junior student-athlete going home to Dewitt with his laundry in hand at 11:30p. “Eric” and I chatted for a few minutes about the great year SU football had before he called his long-distance girlfriend at Hobart William Smith and his mother, speaking lovingly and respectfully to both…good to see chilvalry among our youth is not completely lost! I wonder if mom still does his laundry?
I truly love picking up SU students…I remember my undergraduate
experience at St. Lawrence University well and in a single night on the Hamster
Wheel, was able to evoke lots of good memories of my own college days…not to
mention that at $5 to $7 bucks a ride and 19 rides in 2 ½ hours…a nice little
pay day for the entertainment!
And mom and dad, don’t worry. If one or more of these student stories
resemble your SU student, that’s ok…they’re not doing anything we weren’t doing
ourselves in College…ummm…actually, maybe we should be afraid, very afraid…
Many more “Ubservations” to come on Syracuse University! In the
meantime, Go Orange!
Names have been changed to protect passenger privacy.
For the past three months, I have driven you to destinations spanning the far corners of Central New York and, along the way, I have enjoyed a personal journey of enlightenment and discovery. “Dr. Griff’s UbServations” is my way of collecting and sharing some of your stories and thoughts as passengers in our collective Uber journey. It’s my blog-stream of consciousness in short-themed vignettes!
Are you ready to take a ride with me? Hop into my black Lincoln MKZ (literally and figuratively) and, together, we will share this fanciful journey to destinations’ unknown!