I Admit It… I Am Uber Paranoid!

Like I do every morning, this morning I took an Uber to the train station. And like I do every morning, while I was waiting for it I could not help thinking how – despite providing such a valuable service to commuters like me – vulnerable I am as a result of this daily need. I again marveled at just how many different drivers know exactly where I live! So as I again talked myself off this particular ledge I did what I always do, I took note of the type of car and the license plate numbers and letters the app had provided. I was to get ‘Wayne’ in a BMW with the last three of his plate being, ‘887’.

So, I waited the five minutes and when I was alerted he was approaching I again followed routine, set the alarm, said “goodbye” to the puppy and exited. Except what was waiting for me at the curb was a Suburban and, you guessed it, ‘887’ was no part of his plate. Naturally my steps were faltered, but I did approach. He rolled down the passenger window, confirmed my name and noting my obvious hesitation, let me know the BMW was in the shop. I climbed in.

But the entire ride (and no, I did not exhale until I got to my destination), I kept thinking this was the stuff of either too much ID TV or a very vivid imagination! Both apply to me! “My BMW is in the shop” indeed! I sat my ladylike ass in the back seat and envisioned just how vulnerable a position I had placed myself in; because see, not only was I being exposed as any of us are every time we climb into a stranger’s vehicle, but now the possible record of my ride that is on my phone will be absofuckinglutely NO help to those looking for me/him in a Black BMW, plate number ‘887’ should the need arise!

The entire ride I berated myself for my stupidity in getting into this Suburban with tinted windows and whose said windows my vivid imagination convinced me were also sound-proofed! I was terrified. And, not because he did or said anything to make me so; but because the behavior of some inhabitants of this world of ours dictates I should be. I can’t remember if I prayed; I do remember I held my breath.

The proof is in my ability to pen these words… I got to my destination safely. Thank you, God. But that does not negate the fact that this could have gone an entirely different way. My decision to climb into an unmarked (not because there was no license plate; but because there was no record of being picked up by this license plate) vehicle, could have proven to be not only an incredibly stupid one, but detrimental.

So, now what? Is this situation where I just calm-the-fuck-down and stop letting my imagination run away from me? Or, this morning’s switcharoo notwithstanding, there is cause for me to pause and fully appreciate my vulnerability woven into my/our Uber realities? I mean, my paranoia in this situation has even impacted my decision to rate drivers. I don’t. I have gotten some terrible ones and, in an effort to not indulge in any action that could possibly negatively impact my household, I do not rate them. Literally… they know where I live. And yes, I know you’re probably thinking the ratings are more than likely anonymous. Don’t care… they know where I live.

But what do we do, those of us that must indulge in some sort of one-on-one interaction to get us where we need to go… on a very regular basis? I do not have the option of not calling something – an Uber or a ‘regular’ car service – to aid in my commute; so again, I ask, “what do we do?” For a number of reasons Uber is less expensive than my other car service; but, I am beginning to appreciate, “you get what you pay for”. Maybe paying more, but having the cars branded and the drivers not be so very anonymous (even to the company) will restore some of my peace of mind. I am acknowledging that this personal- vehicle-business is not for me.

In no way am I saying that I have not had pleasant experiences when taking an Uber; not at all. I have had great drivers and felt less vulnerable. But all in all, as much as I applaud the innovators of this, I cannot help but to feel too exposed. There are too many strangers out there who now both know my name and where I live. An intimacy that is otherwise quite hard-won from me.

KWIM?

I went to a funeral this past Saturday. And, while I had agonized over what to wear (I know you all are thinking that the agony should have been for the loss of the deceased. In my defense I did not know them, I was there supporting a friend at the loss of his brother… so my choice of clothing was what caused me some agony), once I got there I realized that but for a few of us, I should have expended my concern and worry on something else entirely.

Flip-flops, tank tops, jeans, crop-tops.

So as I looked around in stunned amazement (and honestly, this display almost made me lose focus of why I was present), I had to decide whether it was more pertinent to laugh at them or myself? I mean, understand this – even with approximately thirty-something-plus variations of something black in my closet, my behind went shopping on Friday to find something suitable to wear. After purchasing yet another black dress, when I awoke that morning, the sun was shining so brightly and through the bedroom window the beauty of the day that was promised to us had already starting spilling through, I decided black would not do. I decided on a very Jackie-O-esque cream dress and matched that with some leopard or tiger (always getting these two confused) print, peek-a-boo four inches. I selected a bag, threw my hair up in a bun and announced myself ready for the occasion.

Some of my fellow mourners looked as though they should have been meeting me for brunch and a street fair afterwards.

Since then I have been thinking about why we have given ourselves permission to become so very situation inappropriate. About what in our culture has us not getting it up for ourselves first and anyone else, after. And, I have been forced to accept that our dress is just yet another example of the lethargy that has infiltrated and permeated throughout our day-to-day. One truly does not need to go much further than our speech to realize just how chronic the malaise is. I mean, it stands to reason that if we have given ourselves permission to become lazy and informal spellers and speakers, how we prepare and present ourselves physically will be the least of our concerns!

U, ur, idk, smh, r, lol, roth, smdh, rotff, l8r, wtf, ttyl… tlgo (the list goes on…).

My point is this – as a culture, if we have found a way to abbreviate our speech, it makes sense that we would do the same in other areas of our lives, no? I mean, if I refuse to take the time to determine my audience and vet my spelling and speech for appropriateness, then why in heaven’s name would I take the time to be appropriately dressed for an occasion? Who is going to challenge my right to extend my sense of informality throughout every area of my life… and yours?

Make no mistake here people, there IS a correlation between the informal-speaking culture we have become and the way we prepare and present ourselves physically. The more lax we allow ourselves to be and hence our children, is the more we solidify a culture that is ill-prepared to successfully maneuver too far outside a shrinking parameter. Children that pattern themselves after our penchant for inappropriateness and informality become young (and old) adults that show up at a funeral more appropriately dressed for the park. And if you think this is me making a big deal about very little, understand that being situationally-inappropriate has tentacles that extend to job interviews, weddings, meeting-the-parents, graduations, church… life situations that can and will affect in a very negative way the impression one makes. That will affect your livelihood, success and happiness.

Listen. Being appropriate is two-fold – it shows your respect for yourself and for the situation. I am not speaking of being fashion-show-ready, I am addressing being respectful. There are indeed those times when shortening the time it takes to do something is not only allowed, but can be quite fitting and relevant; for instance, someone coming to you with some bullshit… do cut that shit short! But, as it relates to those occasions where full, punctuated sentences and stepping up your dress-game are necessary, please, take the time to show some pride in yourself and reverence for the occasion.

It’s time we stopped offering up mediocrity while demanding the world to accept us “just the way we are” and give it something to respect instead!

Know what I mean?

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