Chocolates and an Ukulele


P. S. Gifford 

© Copyright 2023 by P. S. Gifford 

Photo by Paul Hanoka on Unsplash.

Photo by Paul Hanoka on Unsplash.

 It is rarely dull driving and there have been shifts that have been doozies. They might sound fictional, but I assure you they are true.

 Last night was rather eventful to say the least. 

Sunday nights are typically mellow on the roads of the OC- and I typically call it a night by nine or so. As was my intent last night motivated further by steaks my darling plus one had acquired. I could taste them as I drove.

But as it was Veteran's day- and I would be amiss at this point to sincerely thank all past and serving members of the military- and as today is a work free day for many bars were rather busy.

My first ride of note was a thirty-six year old blonde. I knew her age precisely as, quite simply, she told me. I picked her up from a coastal upscale neighborhood and I discerned immediately that this was going to be a fun ride. As she climbed into my Caddy she commented on my shoes. Now, picture me in the driver's seat and she is getting in the rear corner seat. She mentioned that she loved my white driving shoes. As I am partial to them myself- I never was one for sneakers- I received the compliment well.

I was listening to an alternative eighties channel- and she began to sing along. She mentioned that although she was born in the eighties that it was some of her favorite music. She went on to say that growing up she had been exposed to a variety of different music and met a plethora of recording artists as her father used to be the president of Columbia records. She mused over how eccentric creative types were and found them a quirky lot- commenting that  James Taylor was the most personable.

She goes on to say that she did not really want to go out- that she felt like a quiet night in. But, it was girl’s night out and hubby was child sitting. She added that they had told the restaurant there was a birthday in the party and had everyone bring a fake wrapped gift. The goal was free  chocolate cake.

Now she was obviously sufficiently well off to afford cake for her and her friends- but she seemed to get a kick out of the ploy- and bringing mock presents was, well, the icing on the cake for the ruse.

Then the conversation turned to where it often go to- my strangest rides. I quickly tell a couple of my favorite stranger ones. Then she asked if I ever get hit on- as she tapped me, with surprising force, on my shoulder. 

"It happens," I replied. 

"Details!" she prompted- tapping my shoulder again.

I retell that two weeks in a row how a female- both mid 30's- deliberately left something in my car on purpose so they could contact me again.

"You are a stud." she exclaimed.

"Hardly," I countered.

I manage to turn the conversation to more mundane things with mixed results.

As we pulled up at the restaurant she paused before she climbed out.. She tapped my shoulder one more time.

"Damn," she said. "I don't have a sweater to leave."

She winked and off she went. 

My next, or second to next as it all blurs into one, was a pick up from an ocean view place. As I park and wait I saw a long haired gent dragging a suitcase behind him heading towards me. I jumped out of my car, popped the trunk and greeted him. I placed the case in the trunk, closed it, and then opened the car door for him- as is my way. I noticed he had what appeared to be a small violin case with him. 

He was a tall distinguished man, impeccably dressed with a black goatee to match his shoulder length hair. We set off and I note he was heading to Long Beach airport- I am relieved that it was not LAX- as that place takes my stress level to maximum. An utter nightmare!

It is a fifty-mile jaunt- and as I escaped the maze of tiny coastal rides and made it to the freeway I asked what is his musical preference. 

"Can I play for you?" He asked.

"I would love it," I said- not entirely sure if I would or not.

"I take my ukulele everywhere," he added. “It soothes me as I travel a lot for work."

The next thing I realized is that Hotel California is being played from the back seat. I genuinely enjoyed it. This was followed by a medley of other mellow rock songs. Then a familiar medley started- Jammin' by Marley. His strumming was accompanied by singing- I sang along.

After he finished I thanked him- and meant it. 

"I have never before been serenaded as I drove," I said.

"I am pleased you enjoyed it," he replied.

"You know you are going to live on in one of my anecdotes," I said.

"I can think of nothing better," he answered. 

I am a man of my word.

The conversation drifted from how the number eight is so relevant to music, computing and the universe in general to his government job on the international front to his looming red-eye to New York.

The hour sped by. We pull into the airport and I once more hop out, get his door and baggage. 

We end with a hand shake and off went the curious--but rather charming- man into the night.

I was going to tell of how a young woman with almost no English skills got me in a pickle attempting to get into the nearby marine base- but I have rattled on long enough for now.

But I have many more anecdotes from the road to share. Being an Uber driver is rarely dull.

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