Question: Is it ok to smack other people’s children if provoked?
There are some days you really don’t feel like going to work. Driving for Uber is no exception. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and I had just driven a tribe of urban hippies to a park for a picnic and then dropped a gang of Bondi hipsters to a house party at Tamarama. Both groups beamed with happiness as they chatted about the day ahead, a day of endless possibilities. I secretly seethed with envy as I made joke after joke of, “Hey I might have to join you! haha!” But no, I needed the money and Saturday’s are the busiest and most lucrative day for an Uber driver.
My dark mood would soon be compounded by my most infuriating Uber passengers to date.
Lydia – 5 minutes
I weaved my way through the congested hell of Bondi road and headed to Redfern. Not the Redfern of old, but the trendy, arty, million dollar Redfern of 2015. I pulled up at a beautiful Victorian style terrace house in a leafy Redfern street and waited for Lydia. As many of you who use the Uber app know, when a driver pulls up out the front of your home you are notified through the app. I usually wait around 2-3 minutes before sending the customer a polite text message, just in case they didn’t hear the notification. I sent a reminder to Lydia after waiting for close to four minutes –
“Hi Lydia, your Uber is out the front! Cheers.”
“Ok! Ok! I’m coming!!!!”
A further five minutes went by. I was just about to cancel the job and drive off when I heard, “Tap Tap Tap!” on my rear drivers side window. I turned my head quickly but saw no-one there. I thought I must be hearing things but then there it was again, this time louder… “TAP, TAP, TAP!” I lowered my window and stuck my head out of the car to inspect the sound further.
Standing next to my car was a child, no older than four, dressed in old man’s clothing and clutching onto an enormous packet of popcorn with both hands. He was wearing a long sleeve buttoned up white shirt, a black vest, black suit pants and had black leather shoes on his size 3 feet. A tan coloured trilby sat upon his head of curly brown locks. Before I could open my mouth to speak, the mini man had secured the novelty-sized packet of popcorn between his little white teeth, reached up to open my rear drivers seat door, and clambered his way into the back of my car. He sat there without saying a word.
I turned around to face my unexpected passenger. “Hi there little guy!” I exclaimed in the most excitable children’s voice I could muster. “Who else are we waiting for?”
The boy didn’t just dress like a man, he had the mannerisms of one too. He stared back me, before rolling his eyes and shaking his head from side to side in disapproval of my question. He then tapped on the glass of the window with his pointer finger, gesturing for me to look in the direction of the terrace house.
Hopping out the door on one foot, the other in her right hand trying to fit a high-heel, was a tall slender woman dressed in black. She even had a black, bowl-cut styled haircut. She slammed the door and began storming toward my car. Meet Lydia.
Lydia has a predilection for slamming doors. My entire car moved with the force of her next slam.
“Ok! Lets go lets go! We’re already late,” said Lydia with a scowl.
“Philippe!” She shrieked at the little man.
Lydia entered her destination into the app, an art gallery in Darlinghurst 12 minutes away. Off we went.
And then it began. The man child, Philippe, started kicking the back of my chair relentlessly. So much so that I jolted forward with every kick. My first thought was, “That four-year-old has impressive leg strength, I wonder if he squats?” This thought was quickly replaced with, “How much of this do I take before saying something?” His mother, Lydia, was far too engrossed with the contents of her phone to notice the bucking bull in the backseat.
Lydia did speak up moments later. Not to reprimand Benjamin Button, but to criticise the route I had taken. “We were supposed to be there ten minutes ago,” she moaned. “Can you go another way?”
I replied as pleasantly as I could, “Sure.” I was running out of patience. The main factor holding me back from any level of confrontation was the Uber ratings system. I had a score of 4.96 out of 5 stars and I wanted to keep it there. I could tell that if I said anything about Philippe kicking my chair Lydia would likely give me a terrible rating.
The kicking continued. I could now also hear the crunching of popcorn. I pictured my backseat looking like the floor of a movie theatre during school holidays. “F#!k Philippe,” I thought to myself.
And then it happened. “HH HMMMM!” Philippe cleared his throat loudly from the back seat. I secretly hoped he had choked on a piece of popcorn. “HH HMMMM!” He cleared his throat again. “DRIVER!!” He announced in a high pitched voice. “AIR-CON!”
I couldn’t believe it. I looked at my rear vision mirror to see Lydia’s reaction. She was entranced by her phone, scrolling mindlessly through Instagram. I ignored Phillippe and asked Lydia, “Would you like the air conditioning turned up?”
“Yessss!” she hissed in a tone of annoyance.
I gritted my teeth, turned up the air-con, and continued toward the destination. As soon as I pulled up at the art gallery they hurriedly exited my car. I turned around to see the mountain of popcorn left on the back seat. As I swiped my phone to end the trip the option appeared to “Rate my passenger.” My revenge on Lydia the terrible and her dastardly son was a score of 2/5. Petty, I know. But it did make me feel slightly better. I decided to head home after this trip from hell. I don’t know if I could withstand another Lydia and Philippe tonight.