IN 2019 WE ARE INTRODUCING A NEW MONTHLY FEATURE; THE PLAYWRIGHT’S THINK PIECE. WE ARE INVITING INDIVIDUAL PLAYWRIGHTS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO WRITE A FEW WORDS ON WHAT IS CURRENTLY KEEPING THEM UP AT NIGHT AND COURSING THROUGH THEIR MIND. THEY CAN WRITE A ROUGH AND READY PIECE ON ANYTHING OTHER THAN THEATRE.

MONIKKA ELIAH ON AWKWARD UBER RIDES

Let us momentarily set aside the way UBER has treated some of its employees or briefly ignore its impact on other transport services. What we are left with is a fairly efficient means of travel.

Efficient until you consider the conversation that happens from point A to point B. Sure, some people want a quiet ride. You get in and you get out with little more than a “Hello” and a polite “Thank you.” Some people want to add a little and ask how the days been or where you’re off to. You each give your answers and then the car gets really quiet and you both look out through your assigned windows. After that, the only time one of you speaks is in response to an irresponsible driver that just tried to overtake from the left. You might snort, shake your head or ask ‘Did you see that?’.

Then there are those other lengthier conversation. Those are risky. Sometimes, very rarely, you can have a great conversation where you both share a few jokes and get to learn something. For instance, how one driver likes to soak their family’s mugs in bleach to get rid of coffee stains or how another is big fan of the Eels and excited for the new Parramatta Stadium. Those conversations are light and easy. There is no agenda. Just two humans trying to make the ride more pleasant.

More frequently had are the conversations that make you wish you’d taken the train or walked the 30 minutes. These kinds of conversations range from awkward to downright uncomfortable.
It’s as if UBER drivers are operating under different rules to everyone else. The top two questions I get are “Did you make a mistake spelling your name?”and “Are you a Christian?”

The first is a trick question because no matter the response it warrants a laugh. If I say no, they laugh at the spelling. If I say yes, they laugh at me. As for the second one, I can never be sure of the reaction. Sometimes, I note that they’re asking because I have just said I’m Middle Eastern, sometimes they’re asking because they have noticed a quality in me that they believe to be a product of faith and sometimes it’s because they want to guide me down the path of righteousness. Their voices always changes when they ask like they’re reenacting Mufasa’s’ speech on Pride Rock. They slam me with “Everything the light touches….” and I respond with Simba’s childish “Wow!”.

More serious than these awkward questions are the deeply uncomfortable ones. Where, on top of being driven to my destination, I get a delicious helping of discrimination. On the way to Fox Studios last year, I had a particularly exciting conversation. My UBER driver explained to me, the only Australian is one with British descent. There I was bonding with her about the best restaurants in the city and then bam my citizenship was revoked. I spent the next week trying to understand how entitled of an individual you would have to be to dictate someone else’s identity. I regretted ever giving her my restaurant suggestions. No sushi for you!

 

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