When an Uber driver told me he wasn’t licensed to drive me and my colleague into the city, I thought it strange. Like, he doesn’t have a driver’s license? The admission came mere minutes after a pastor colleague in this western suburb shared with me that she knows many of the Uber drivers out here and that many of them drive without documents. Alright then. We got out of the car and he cancelled the ride. We called another one.
When the second driver wouldn’t take us into the city either we got suspicious. I asked him, “You mean you’re not able to because it’s an hour from here or you just don’t want to?” I told him he was the second driver to decline our trip and I was curious. He said, with kind of a guilty expression, “I’ll tell you what it is.” Then he whispered, so that my African American colleague standing two feet away couldn’t hear, “I don’t like to drive into the city. The last time I took someone there I ended up in the ghetto, like the hard core ghetto: the south side. I thought I was going to die.”
He cancelled the tip (“no charge,” he said, like he was being a prince) and darted away in his Honda Civic.”That’s pretty racist, right?” I asked my colleague. She looked at me like I was a 40 year old white man unaccustomed to being denied service in such a way.
“You think?” is all she said.
We decided to take a car to the train station instead and to ride the train into the city.
The third driver hurdled the median in her Prius to get to us.
“No fear, right?” I said to her in greeting. When we got into the car I took a flyer and told her our destination, sharing also that we were headed for the city and had been turned down by two previous drivers. “I’ll take you to the city,” she said, almost laughing. Score.
I changed the destination in the app, and she sped out of the parking lot toward the freeway. She wasted no time asking us what we were doing out here (attending a training for pastors) and then asking us what made us want to be pastors before telling us about some of her tattoos, her fiancee, her coming out story to her parents, and her career goals. She was smart, tough, and perceptibly kind.
Of course, we kicked around the forthcoming evening’s Presidential debate, too.
The point of this story is the Hillary Clinton was not the only woman I saw yesterday who stood up to the smallness of racist cowardice among men.