Ticket to Ride

I just returned from a visit to our Nations capital and a visit with all my colleagues. I was very grateful that they ordered in some warmer temps prior to my arrival than they had been experiencing recently.

On Wednesday night we were lucky enough to attend a team building event at the Capital One Arena and watch, what I was told, was an exciting game of basketball between the Jazz and the Wizards.  I will admit that I may have spent more time eating and socializing than actually watching the game, but since the scoreboard read 74-74 the one time I did look at it, I’ll take their word for it.

Standing in front of the arena waiting for an Uber after the game, I couldn’t help remember the other wonderful Uber adventures I’ve had in our fair capital. (Remember my driver who drove in circles and confused the airport with Arlington National Cemetery? Good times).

While this Uber ride turned out to be relatively uneventful, I wasn’t so lucky on my previous trip to DC a  couple months ago.

We had gone to see a Nationals game as a team on that particular trip, and, as you can imagine, there were quite a number of people pouring out of the stadium and requesting Ubers after the game.

There are also multiple gates leading out of the stadium and onto many, very different streets around the stadium.

And if you are from out of town, you may or may not be aware that there is an Uber “pick up spot” outside one of these gates.

The group I was with fell into the may not camp.

So we filed out of the gate nearest our seats, divided into two groups, and took off to the nearest corner, to request an Uber using the cross streets over our head.  One group went one way, and myself and my new boss went the opposite.

We requested our Uber and proceeded to watch it’s progress on it’s way to find us. I think the original ETA was about 5 min. However, as we continue to watch the progress, we begin to notice that the Uber seemed to be moving in the opposite direction and the ETA is getting longer, not shorter.

After the estimated 5 min and a few more has passed, and we seem to only be further from having our Uber arrive, I decide to give our driver a call.

I get her on the phone, and immediately it is clear there is much confusion as to where we might be.

I spend several minutes telling her where we are based on the streets (which in my mind should be the easiest landmarks, especially for someone whose business it is to drive on said streets) and when that fails to help her locate us, I start naming every landmark I can spy with my little eye.

Meanwhile, obviously not cluing into any of my landmarks, she is trying to tell me where the Uber pick up spot is using landmarks of her own, which may have been effective, if I was from the area, and had ever been to that specific part of town before.

But neither was true.

Then she proceeded to tell me we would need to walk to her, because all the streets around the stadium were closed and she wouldn’t be able to get to us, even though I gently informed her that I was watching numerous cars drive on those streets as we spoke.

I finally decided that this may be a fruitless venture, and told her I would cancel my request so she could just find someone who knew where the pick-up spot was.

My boss and I decided to walk down a few blocks, further from the stadium, before requesting another ride, in the hopes that we would have either better luck or an Uber driver who actually believed in GPS.

Of course the other group had somehow found one of DC’s best drivers and had already been picked up and were halfway back to the hotel.

We get to our new “pick up spot” and request another car.

This one is about 8 min away, but at least seems to be moving in the right direction in the first few minutes, so we are hopeful. About 5 min in, my phone rings. It is our new Uber driver, saying she isn’t quite sure where we are and my hope starts to fade fast.

(Just out of curiosity, I’d love to know how people expect to be successful in a driving career, if they don’t see the value in actually knowing where they are going?)

I spend several minutes again giving directions and naming off several landmarks, and finally I get a response that was music to my ears!

“Oh, I know exactly where you are. I should be coming up to you in just a minute!”

I told her I’d stay on the line, just to be sure, and she said,

“Sure, you should see me coming through the light right now..”

Sure enough, I saw a Rav4 pulling through the intersection.

With a cop car with lights on right behind it.

“Umm, yes I see you. Are you the one getting pulled over right now?”

I hang up as I assume she will need all her attention to deal with the officer of the law, and look at my boss.

“Well, do we want to ride with her or go for round three?” She says when she finishes laughing.

“I say we see how long this citation takes and make the call. We already have over 30 minutes invested just to lay eyes on an Uber. Plus, I feel a little bit badly since she may have gotten pulled over for being on the phone with me”

We watch as the police officer walks up to the drivers window, has a brief conversation with our driver, then walks back to her car, turns off the lights and pulls away.

Really? How come that never happens when I get pulled over?

And the fact that our driver is still in her car and not in the back of the officers car seems like a good sign.

We cross the road and find out from the driver that she had been pulled over for changing lanes to get to the curb without using her blinker. And that she was contacted by the nicest police officer on the planet (next to my brother in law, of course) who gave her the shortest verbal warning ever and let her continue on with her night.

That seemed like a forgivable offense and nothing scary enough to wait another 40 minutes for another ride, so we climb in.

Our driver turned out to be a lovely young lady with a great sense of humor and we enjoyed every minute of our 20 min drive to the hotel.


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