church of uber
Yeah, it’s a thing.
I started driving some for Uber back in November. A friend told me last May that he knew a guy who was doing it because he had time on his hands. I was slightly intrigued at first, but it seemed more like the right thing to do after slugging through a nightmarish four-month run with a less-than-honorable insurance company. I would tell you more about those four months, but I usually break out in a bloody rash when I talk about it. So I’ll spare you and myself the agony.
About the same time I started driving for Uber, I was also poking around to find a pastoral environment where I might add value. The conversations I was having at the time were mostly exploratory. But that eventually evolved into a situation where I had the confidence of the leadership and the organization I was talking to, but they actually had more pastors than they had churches in this part of Colorado. Since I’m not licensed and ordained with that particular denomination, they genuinely owe the opportunity to the men and women who currently serve the denomination. I suspect it’s a timing thing regarding me, so I’m totally at peace and feel absolutely no rejection due to their decision. I got that word a couple of weeks ago.
I have noticed something different though. After the last couple of weeks, it has dawned on me that there have been a lot of intense encounters in my vehicle since I started driving for Uber. Not every ride is awesome, but the overwhelming majority are awesome! There have only been three times that I wished I had an eject button for the passenger’s seat. Too drunk and too high were the culprit on two separate occasions, and the third was just nasty rude. Most people are charming, engaged, and want to know about Uber driving. Honestly, it is a lot of fun, but it’s strangely very familiar. Well, more than familiar, actually. It’s my church right now. My flock. My people.
I know what the buds in the ears are advertising: “Just drive, sucker.” So I just drive and leave them to their phones. I’m kewl with that. But, most talk and ask questions nonstop. So, I’ve got anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour to show some love and respect for who they are, what they do, and share a morsel of hope for a good day. Most encounters are just casual and light-hearted, but not all.
Telling Tierra (age 19) that her all-night job at the local TNA didn’t disqualify her from the love of God was pretty awesome. Such a beautiful kid, but the fatigue and pressure of trying to do her dancing job, go to school, pay the bills, and hide from her paying clients are making some heavy duty demands on her body and spirit. She knew I was a long-time pastor before I realized her vocation. Instead of hiding herself, she shot straight. Either she needed some good news, or she was expecting to be carved and served on my religious alter. So when I dropped her at her apartment, I went for it:
Tierra, look at me and don’t look away. God is not put off by the choices you’ve made regarding how you pay your bills. He loves you no matter what you’ve got going on there. If anyone tells you any differently, they’re either liars or misinformed. God is crazy about you. You can always believe that!
Her smile and tears were enough. I pray for Tierra fairly often. Serving her was definitely a huge blessing.
Meeting Rick, who has now become a good friend, was also pretty dang special. Rick buried his wife 10 years ago because of cancer’s damage. He still misses his best friend. He works a lot. He likes it like that. The busier he is, the less time he has to think in the past. He’s a really good man. Still hurting.
I’ve prayed for lots of people, but it’s always at their request. “Preacher… mind saying a few words for me?” It’s awesome, really, but this week I met a chick early one morning who required me to be a little more muscular with my spiritual involvement.
It was shortly after sunrise, and Holly (probably age 21) looked like she’d been doing cartwheels or something. Her hair was all over the place. She popped in the front seat and immediately burst into sobbing tears. “I was so afraid… so afraid.” That’s all she would say between soaking outbursts. After what seemed like ten minutes, Holly said, “I’m so sorry to do this to you… but, I was so afraid.” I asked her if she wanted to tell me about it? She wouldn’t and I’m not sure she could. This was ugly cry stuff. Wailing.
As we neared a 7-Eleven store, she asked if I’d pull in so she could buy cigarettes. She left the vehicle still sobbing. I watched her enter the store. She went straight to the counter. The woman behind the counter was probably close to my age. She had on the smock 7-Eleven employees wear and a huge ‘80s mullet. She turned around and grabbed Holly’s smokes, and then she came around from behind the counter and clinched Holly in a massive hug. They stood there for a good minute. Watching that right there put me into tears also.
When Holly got back into my car, she immediately grabbed me. “Can I hold your hand?” I responded with, “Yes babe, you can.” She started crying again. Then she put her forehead down on my hand. I could feel the tears rolling down the side of my hand. She was repeating, “So afraid… so afraid.” She stayed that way until I pulled into her driveway. I asked a few questions about whether or not we needed to call the cops. No way. Her mom was at home so she wasn’t going to be alone. So I leaned in and asked her if I could pray. I don’t remember the words, but whatever was tormenting her seemed to lift some. She thanked me and left the car to go inside her house. I pretty much prayed for Holly until the next ride had my full attention.
Lots of people are just trying to get from point A to point B and that’s all there is to it. But, I’ve been doing this long enough now to notice some things about the people who arrive at Church of Uber:
FIRST – Some work to pay the bills, but most feel they are making a significant contribution to serving mankind. That’s encouraging to me.
SECOND – People are tired. Granted, I see most of my riders between 4:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., but people got a lot going on in their lives. If you’re listening, you’ll detect the fatigue. Stress is definitely doing a number on us. Respect and preference of others is usually well received, especially when they’re under so much pressure.
THIRD – Most everyone responds to kindness with kindness. I’m totally convinced that the whole sowing and reaping thing is legit. Some are too wounded or angry to reciprocate, but they still need the kindness from us.
LASTLY – You can’t judge people by first impressions. You’ve got to share air with them a few minutes in order to appreciate their unique way. It feels everyone is different than me, but I love the variety. God’s explosion of creative splendor is always on display with people. Seeing and appreciating is definitely church.
Just this morning I picked up Lucy. She announced to me that she’s known as the “Lesbo Bouncer.” She’s probably more than capable of doing the job, but 10 minutes in the car with her was amazing. All she could talk about was how the people she works with in various bars are her true brothers and sisters… the only family that ever has anything to do with her now. Her love for her colleagues made me want to be one of her peeps. God bless Lucy!
So, until the timing declares something needs to change, I’ll continue to roll at Church of Uber. It’s a great congregation!
Can I get a witness?!!! Beep beep! AMEN!
Live every day inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!
P.S. Tip your frikk’n Uber driver. Generosity is always a good thing. Be good at life!