Turn it up.If you're at work, invite everyone around you to watch the video. Except, don't invite Sarah,
just to, you know, let her know that she's not invited. Just because.
Cue any NFL theme song…
Sometimes driving are a crap shoot meaning, crap wants to get into your car and you have to shoot it. I’ve had people think they were going to get a ride with me – after all, they did request it and I arrived – only to hear me say, “Oh good! Uber is paying me $150 to drop off at detox!” Then I shoot them.
Actually, Uber doesn’t allow drivers to carry guns, something about not wanting riders to able to start a running gun battle while dropping at the airport. Instead, I carry a hammer and wave it around while screaming about my rights and freedoms.
The name that appeared on the call was “NPC Competitor Steven” (really, I’m not shitting you) and I wondered what NPC was and why it had contests. Given that I was picking up in the pit of Scottsdale’s club Hell, I hoped NPC didn’t mean Never Purchase Crabs because they’re usually free with a night of screaming in someone’s ear and blowing money on drinks.
When I Googled NPC just now, I learned that it’s the National Physique Committee, a group of marginally serious people who judge the bulges on men. To be fair, women are also featured but if people are judging girl bulges that gets into a whole different level of fetish.
In fact, there’s some guy running his own competition (which makes me wonder how legit this whole NPC thing is), the pics on his site of male body builders doing their “You call this an arm, I call it my dick” pose. That and lots of photos of the kinds of girls who are, like, totally into guys with arm dicks. It looked as though Jersey Shore had been hit by a nuclear hormone explosion, the Pauly D aftermath being mutations of hideous proportions.
There’s a clan of cop cars when I pull up, lights flashing, a Sheriff’s black SUV, everyone flashing their lights and doing cop things; I should have brought donuts. I pull behind an empty unit and send a text to announce, “It’s time to go, children.” I wait, roll a cigarette, turn up the Buzzcocks. Cops are shouting but not at me, so there's that. I’m watching the timer on my phone, thinking of shaving 45 seconds off the wait time.
My thumb was ready to tap “Rider no show” in order to send me rolling when NPC Competitor Steven texted me back:
My first indication that Uber had instituted a rolling liquor store policy.
I texted back, “LOL, that’ll be extra,” and watched as the seconds neared GTG, hoping to send KTHXBAI. Suddenly, appearing at the car, a couple of roided-out meatheads with biceps the size of pitbulls escorting three stiletto-shod porn bots. It was as if the skies of Scottsdale shat latex, body enhancements, breast implants and dance stank onto the sidewalk. I roll down the window so NPC Competitor Steve won’t break it with his huge, hormone-enhanced head.
“I can only take four unless you want to stuff one of the girls back there. I don’t think either of you guys will fit back there.” Before I could say that there was already a body in my trunk and I didn’t want to dump it in front of the cops, they began climbing into my car.
“We can do it,” NPC Competitor Steve said as he got in the front, “The guy who brought us here did it.”
“Then that guy’s car must have had a seat extension, an option that didn’t come with this car. I’m not carrying an unbelted passenger through the middle of a cop parade.”
“I’ll tip you. Twenty bucks, we’re not going far.”
The cops seem to be seriously occupied with whatever went down with late-night pizza so I considered the Jackson. I could say I was delivering collagen and two sides of beef if I got pulled over. Calculating the best exit, I held out my hand and said, “Pay me now.”
“I just did, on the app.”
“No. You didn’t. You tipped someone else for something if you did anything but you didn’t tip me. The Uber app doesn’t take tips.”
“Bullshit! The Uber app does take tips, they just started it. They did it to keep drivers from taking cash from customers and then also charging their cards!”
It became immediately apparent that steroids had eaten this guy’s brain, leaving just a kernel that allowed him to remember his own name and jump around excitedly when someone offered to take him for a walk. Not satisfied with the outrageous stupidity of the lie he’d just told, NPC Competitor Steve continued to tap the final nail on the Scottsdale clubhead stereotype coffin:
“I should know, Uber sponsors me and they keep me up to date on everything they do. They give me stocks in the company. They just started this in a few cities to see how this works.”
“Oh. Uber sponsors whatever you do because they feel they don’t look ridiculous enough to UFC fans. And Oh, their defining policy of discouraging tips, the one that is screamed loudly on their website and app form, was reversed in an act of corporate whimsy and done some time after I started driving tonight. Get the fuck out of my car.”
NPC Competitor Steve looked as though he wanted to paint the upholstery with me, he was not used to people talking back to him. He was probably confused by the other mouth that had words in it and could think only to crush my little car with me in it then bounce the ball of metal and bloody flesh down the street.
“Really?” whined Bambi or Muffin or Nipples, as the tanned heap untangled from the backseat and oozed onto the sidewalk. The Roid Boyz also got out, defeated, their Uber sponsorship an impossible dream at this point. NPC Competitor Steve’s eyes clenched up like two commas that marked an eternal pause.
I blazed out of there, cancelling the call and hoping I’d never have to go back. A few minutes out, my app dinged, the location about a block from where I’d been. There’s a rule that the distance from best lane you need to turn to take a call is determined by the amount of shit you have left to give. Having just witnessed the horrors of modern body enhancement science, I was curious to see if the freak show still offered specimens of genetic atrocity to cart around.
The rider called as soon as his app dinged. asking where I was. He’d chosen the unfortunate location of a parking lot to meet me at, thinking that among the dozens of cars there, mine would be the one with the glittering Uber icon hovering above it. Judging by the number of phones to faces and traffic all around, it was obvious that a game of Where’s Waldo is quite popular in Scottsdale at 3 am.
“My lights are on. A cop just passed behind me and is now turning into the parking lot.”
After waving them in, I saw that I’d be driving two bangers to Tempe. The riders friend got in and then asked if I’d move my seat up.
“I’m a giant man and I need room to drive us safely. Sorry. You can sit up front if you’d like.”
The rider told his friend to chill, implying it was best to just ignore the old white guy and get home. The two of them barely spoke as I sped south, Jimmy McGriff jamming out organ blues and Muddy Waters wailingabout his mojo working but just not on you.
The energy shifted immediately as Birdman (feat. Lil Wayne) “Neckof the Woods” came on.
“You like this?”
“It’s on my iPod.” I looked back with a nod, assuring him that it wasn’t on there by mistake.
The pair’s attitude towards me flipped like the U-turn I’d taken to pick them up. Suddenly, I was kind of dope for an old guy.
The song ended and I passed over Chris Isaak and John Mellencamp, landing on The Five Heartbeats, “A Heart is a House for Love.”
“You’re not from here, are you?” the friend asked.
“Colorado. What makes you say that?”
“The music you listen to. You’re not like people in Arizona.”
“I just can’t listen to one thing all night when I’m driving, you know?”
“It gets boring.”
“Without my music, I couldn’t do this job.”
I dropped the rider just as the song was ending. We did the bro shake as he indicated that I was all right, after all, “You like Bloodhound Gang,” he said, not asking me if I was into the band but making a comparison, that I was like those dudes.
Sometimes, I’m surprised by my passengers as well, the business executive who asks if it’s The Shins on my pod (it was Deer Tick) or the CEO chick who corrected me, that the Beastie Boys recorded “Ill Communication” after “Paul’s Boutique” (I was confused with “License to Ill”), the sweet granny who was tickled by The Cramps, “Can Your Pussy Do the Dog?”
Yes, I need my music to through a night of driving, if only to bring me moments like that, the ones that redeem an attempt by DuPont products to commandeer my car with arm dicks.