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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“The Minority Report” by Lonna Lisa Williams (“The Liberal and the Immigrant”)

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It’s easy to say, “Let all immigrants come to America.”  It’s harder living with one.  I have been living with my Armenian/Turkish husband “Jack” for 5 years and 3 months.  We survived Turkey and then China and are now attempting America.  Because of language, cultural, and belief differences, our marriage has been difficult.  He can’t drive a car in the U.S., and a Green Card costs about $2000 plus proof of bank savings, home, job, etc.  We haven’t been able to afford one yet, especially since we used up all our savings when my Mazda 5 minivan was totaled in Houston, and I ended up in Texas Medical Center ICU with a subdural hematoma (bleeding in my brain from slamming into metal, no airbag deployed, seat belt bruising my ribs and pushing the air out of me).  Texas sheriffs blamed me for the accident, though I was the one hit by a speeding Houston driver.

We went back to California after that, in an American car with a high-interest loan, high payments, and increased driving insurance.  We slept in that car in the desert, then headed back toward the mountains where I lived before jumping overseas.  Jack got 3 manual labor jobs in a small town.  He quit one and was fired from the other 2, though his English now is pretty good.  After 5 years of teaching English and Journalism for universities, high schools, and private language schools in Russia, Turkey, and China, I have not been able to find a good job in America.  Nobody really needs an older, experienced English teacher in a country where the first language is English.

I found a job driving delivery for Uber Eats in Los Angeles, but with the one-hour commute from the truck stop where we live in the Inland Valley, I make no profits after gas and bill-paying (and my husband’s share, of course).  Uber pays drivers too little, though we wear out our cars, pay auto insurance, and risk our lives on steep, dark roads in the rain.

Turks love to talk, yell, fight.  Centuries of this aggression genetically infuse my husband.  My American friends don’t understand how much of a cultural difference this is and simply don’t like Jack for yelling too much.  Or maybe they question the high rate of abuse to women that Turkey records each year.

Then we lived with a Liberal couple in our small mountain town about 2.5 hours’ drive from Los Angeles. Continue reading