Gregory the Uber driver

I needed a ride from Woodbury to downtown Minneapolis – a roughly 18-mile drive on I-94. According to my Uber app, no cars were available, so I asked the front desk of the hotel I was visiting to call a cab.

I waited. And waited. After about 30 minutes, a hotel staff member told me she contacted the cab driver and he said he would be there “any minute.” About 20 minutes later, this staff member, peeking through a window while talking to me, said she “thought” my driver “may” have arrived. We went outside to confirm. We found a man leaning against his car, smoking a cigarette. She asked him if he was my driver. He said he was. I smiled and thanked him for coming. He said nothing. In fact, he walked away. He went into the hotel while I was climbing into the backseat.

As the moments passed, I was overcome with an unrelenting voice in my head telling me that this was more than just odd behavior and poor customer service; that I needed to get out of the car. So I did. I walked into the hotel and asked the staff member if she knew where the driver went. She said she thought he may have gone to the bathroom. I thanked her for her help and asked her to please tell him I would find an alternative mode of transportation. She did not protest.

I strapped on my backpack and walked. Shortly thereafter, the driver pulled up. He rolled down a window. I turned to look at him. He was laughing. He told me to get into the car.

A freakish calm overtook me. I took a breath and recapped his actions, telling him how unprofessional they were, and that I would rather jog to Minneapolis than use my hard-earned capital to reward this behavior. He kept smiling. I turned and marched away. He screamed something unintelligible and drove away.

As I began walking into the beautiful Minnesota sunset, I thought I would check my Uber app again to see if any cars were available and if not, what alternative sources I would use. Not only was one available, it was nearby. Within 5 minutes, Gregory the Uber driver pulled up. Soon enough, we talked about what brought us to the Twin Cities. He said his father was a doctorate-holding Lutheran pastor, and that his “specialty” was “healing” congregations – the final one before Gregory graduated from high school being in the Twin Cities area. I pressed for details. Over the course of the next 25 minutes, he told me about his father’s work: He was continuously called to congregations that suffered from house-dividing disputes. He said during his upbringing, his father repeatedly told him that such conflicts were rarely, if ever, what they appeared to be; that it was irrelevant to ask yourself who you personally agreed with within your congregation, but instead to get to the deeper hurts from which the problem manifested. If that deeper, masked hurt could be addressed, it could be healed, and the problems previously dividing the congregation would “take care of themselves,” he said.

I could feel the warmth and respect this man had for his father, and how seriously he took applying his father’s legacy to his own life. As we arrived at my destination, I thanked him for the ride and, more importantly, the company. “You have no idea how much I appreciate this,” I said. He smiled and told me not to worry about it.

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