There are times as an I uber driver when I feel uneasy. I know I shouldn’t stereotype, but I often experience “postcode paranoia”.
Definition: Irrational fear of a geographic location due to regular news reports of antisocial behaviour.
In a sentence: “Man I get postcode paranoia when I’m in Bankstown. I hear 9 people got shot here last night!”
When I accept a job in a suburb that falls under this definition I go into autopilot mode. CLICK CLICK – That’s the sound of my central locking activating. I then sit up a little straighter, crack my neck from side to side and nod confidently to myself in my rear vision mirror. “You’ve got this!”
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP
Marco – 4 minutes – Merrylands
Merrylands, a suburb in Western Sydney, known for cheap real estate and drive-by shootings. As far as postcode paranoia goes Merrylands is a code red. Marco hasn’t entered a street number either, just a street name, which further compounds my paranoia.
I pull up in the street Marco has entered. It’s more of a back alley than a street, with row after row of rusted garage doors covered in graffiti and “DO NOT PARK” signs painted in red. “F######k this.” I say to myself. I consider canceling the job and driving off when my phone starts ringing. I accept the call.
“Yeahhhhh bruzzy! Just hold up 2 secs, I’m almost there!” An excitable male voice exclaims.
On cue, Marco walks around the corner and starts heading toward my car. I watch him carefully in my rear vision mirror and start my calculations.
Height – 5ft 10”
Weight – 75kgs
Build – Skinny
If you’re wondering what the hell I’m doing, I am trying to work out if i could “take him” if things go pear shaped. Yes, I agree, It is a strange thing to do but I think it’s something that most men subconsciously do even when walking through a shopping mall.
In a split second I decide I could probably “take” Marco or at least stun him enough to give myself a chance to flee if he turns out to be a psycho. I unlock my doors as Marco approaches.
Marco is wearing a tight white t-shirt, jeans and a pair of those Tiger sneakers. You know the white ones with the black lines running across them. His black hair is slicked back with a generous amount of gel and he has an enormous diamond earing in his left ear. Marco has a very unique style of walking. He appears weightless, like he is walking on the moon. Maybe the only thing weighing him down is the novelty size bottle of water he is carrying. Seriously, the thing must have been 5 litres.
Marco enters my car like a bat out of hell. He flings himself into my passenger side seat, leans forward and starts tapping my dash-board with both hands like he is playing the bongo drums. He stops suddenly, turns his head, points at me with his left index finger and says,
“Yeahhhhh Bruzzy! You’re the first ever Uber C#!T to ever stop out this way ay! First ever! You’re the madddddest C#!T!”
Marco was talking in rapid fire. It was was like he had swallowed the road runner.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah Redfern staysh Bruz! Redfern staysh!” – TRANSLATION – “Could you please take me to Redfern station.”
Marco then leans in close to my stereo system before sitting back, clapping his hands, and yelling, “AUX Cord! Sickest C#!t!” It was clear Marco was keen to play some of his own music on our….. ah F#!k…. on our 32 minute ride to Redfern station.
Marco is feeling nostalgic. Zombie…..Zombie…. Zombie….. Zombie NATION! Starts blaring from my speakers. Marco is in heaven. He takes great delight in singing the very simple hook of the song, “DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA!”
I have to admit, it is a very good song. Marco can’t wipe the smile off his face, he also can’t stop wiping the torrents of sweat cascading off his forehead with his sleeve. The song ends and Marco turns down the stereo. He taps me on the shoulder with the back of his hand. “Can you keep a secret?” He asks, again with this beaming smile on his face.
“I can keep a secret Marco,” I reply. “What have you got for me?”
Marco leans in close and looks around suspiciously. “Have you ever injected cocaine up your ass?” He asks.
My brow immediately furrowed at his question as I sat there in total shock.
“HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHAHAH!” Marco bursts out in a fit of hysteric laughter in reaction to the stunned look on my face. He is writhing around in his seat with his hands clasped together like the happiest little snake in the history of the world.
He abruptly snaps out of this laughing fit and once again leans in close. “No joke! IT. IS. THE. BEST. SHIT. EVER!” He says with intensity.
I had hardly said a word back to Marco during our drive to Redfern station, yet he felt we were best friends. “See this is why I love Uber!” Marco announced. “You’re not some weirdo, old guy taxi man. You’re just like me!”
I started to feel like I was in Johnny Depp’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Cruising through the desert with a madman high on drugs. 10 minutes to go.
Marco reached down to pick up the giant water bottle he had been holding between his feet. He starts sculling the water, with most of it running down his chin and soaking into his shirt. “F#$k!”says Marco. “Sorry bruz, I didn’t spill any on the seat I promise!”
And then it hits me. I don’t care if Marco spills a few drops of water on my seat, but I sure as hell care if he is leaking feral ass juice laced with cocaine into my seats. “I would have to burn this car to the ground,” I thought to myself. Please don’t be ass juice stained into my seats. Please. Please. Please.
“Hey you should come out with me and the boys tonight!” says Marco. “Yeah, you should definitely come out tonight!” He says again with more conviction.
I politely decline his offer as I pull up to Redfern station. Marco insists on a handshake and a fist pump before he tells me he loves me and leaves my car. Thankfully, he didn’t leave a puddle on my seat. I will definitely be buying some car seat covers before I venture out on another crazy Saturday night.