Sometimes while delivering food for Uber Eats, I get to pause a moment and snatch a photo of a beautiful place like The Jeremy Hotel in Hollywood, upon a city hill, like a sailing ship above a sea of lights.
If you like my photos and the little poems that go with them, please check out my books.
When I was driving for Uber in Los Angeles, I was struck by how many homeless people live there. Some say there are 100,000 homeless in Los Angeles, especially in the old downtown area and under freeway bridges. Shelters cannot keep up. Soup kitchens have not “seen these numbers” since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Local government does little to help, and the police may arrest a homeless person only to free him or her without help the next day. I saw a homeless tent parked near a Rolls Royce luxury sedan in the Beverly Hills area. A U.S. army veteran camped out at a McDonald’s patio with his friend. A man lay passed out in the street in front of a Starbucks coffee shop. A wheelchair-bound man visited the local cat lover and his shopping cart near Walmart. Churches lock their gates as people sleep on steps and in doorways. A man sleeps on his skateboard under a tree in a Redlands, California Walmart parking lot. Will we only do something about the homeless when they climb over our high walls and invade our homes and gardens? We take better care of our fashion and our pet dogs. As an Uber driver, I often slept in my car, homeless myself but with a vehicle as shelter. Buy my books, and I will help the homeless. Now I am not one of them. Like most Americans, I could be homeless again–after one month without a paycheck. America is falling.
I never used to like Los Angeles. After exploring it day and night as an Uber driver, I find it beautiful. Beverly Hills has silver-painted fire hydrants on very clean street corners. Dark green leaves of Banyan trees arch across wide roads, shading the line of secretive mansions set back behind ivy-covered walls. Some of these multi-million-dollar homes are brave enough to show sun-spattered entrances to their lofty doors and windows. On other streets, along canyons, Pink-flowered trees line roads for pastel-colored homes with white picket fences and rose gardens.
I used to live in the San Bernardino Mountains–before traveling overseas to teach English for 5 years. When I came home summers to sell my books at a posh Big Bear coffee shop, most LA people (up for the weekend) would walk past me as if I were invisible. I asked, “Would you like to buy a book?” They would not answer. Wearing their gold and diamond jewelry with name-brand clothes, they would breeze by in their Personal Trainer-sculpted bodies crowned by salon-crafted hair. They would examine kitchen gadgets or wooden wall signs: “My Kitchen, My Rules.” Sometimes they held a small designer dog instead of leaving it in their new Range Rover, BMW, or Tesla parked under a pine tree. That’s what I thought of them: materialistic, shallow, not inclined to read books. But now I see their world closer, and I understand a little how the wealthy seek to preserve their wealth.
I left the mountain because I could not find a good teaching job or sell enough of my books online. I started driving for Uber Eats. This new division of the personal car taxi service features ordering food online from many LA restaurants. A driver like me will get an offer on the Uber smart phone app, navigate to the restaurant via Google Maps, pick up the food, and deliver the trendy taste experience to customers.
Most of my customers are middle-class workers with cute LA homes downtown. A few reside in those Beverly Hills or Hollywood mansions. Continue reading →