The Minority Report: “Secrets of Los Angeles–from an Uber Driver”

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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.

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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

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