About 3 years ago, I worked as an Uber driver in London for 6 months while I converted my camper van. I sat on my bum for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, mostly at night, driving through the city giving lifts to people from all walks of life. I wrote a facebook post close to the end that summarised my experience and I dug it up recently to remind myself of the message. I thought I’d share it here in the wake of the election. I’ve added a few stories that I hadn’t included in the original post too.
I’ve met a gay Christian investment banker who went totally evangelical on me. I had the loveliest Norwegian jujitsu athletes with the most horrendous taste in music, sing their hearts out and give me their stash of bananas. An 18 year old girl who just had an abortion screamed all the way home. And a 38 year old woman, who recently had a miscarriage, cried her heart out throughout the journey. I met a Hong Kongese law student who’s life was dominated by his parents but wanted secretly to play in a metal band.
I met an old man in his 90’s with whom I had a profound conversion about life (and cats). I met Nitin Sawhney the other day and got excited about Bach’s lute suite. I had a back to back desert island disk with an amazing woman driving on the M25 at 3am, and nearly fell in love. There was an epic 2 hour cocain run with a Colombian with the powder ending up absolutely everywhere. I met a makeup artist who talked passionately about creating zombies, puss and blood.
I picked up a young stand up comedian after a gig, whose father was the highest ranking general in the UK military, and we spoke about whether war is part of our human nature and if we need it to maintain peace. I gave a lift to an aging classical pianist who’ve performed all over the world throughout his career and talked about whether he is able to satisfy creative urges performing other composer’s music. I watched the sadness and desperation in an 8 year old boy’s eyes being escorted to a tutor after a long day at a private school by a cold austere mother who spoke punishingly about expectations. I’ve had many tired prostitutes, angry artists, bankers being wankers, dealers doing drop offs, drunken horny girls, ignorant pricks, the whole lot.
A TV producer once asked me what I’ve learnt from Ubering. My answer was along the lines of the quote by John Watson, ‘Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’, which I really feel is true. All in all, I think it was the right job to close my 15 years spent in this incredible city.
I learnt recently that Eton’s pre-registration begins before birth of the child. The parents will plan the birth within the September to December acceptance range and give birth through cesarean to match the expected day. And pay a huge deposit. What a fucked up environment for a child to grow up in – to be placed under such high levels of expectation and pressure. It’s difficult to imagine how such an environment will not screw up a child, let alone be conducive to producing a well balanced, courageous and empathetic leader. No wonder they are able to burn £50 notes in front of homeless people. It frightens me to think how many Eton graduates, including Boris Johnson and David Cameron, end up in Westminster.
So I keep telling myself that Boris must also be fighting a hard battle. Perhaps he was that 8 year old boy in my cab once upon a time…