Nanoprep 2020 Day 3: Uber Corona
By Robin de Voh on 2020-10-07
The car arrived and Oliver put on his face mask. He walked towards where the Uber driver had stopped and tried to whistle a tune, then found the mask made that impossible. He smiled and opened the back door of the car.
"Hey, Hamid?" Oliver said as he got into the back, his knees immediately pressed up against the plastic shield placed between the front of the car and the back.
"Yes, hi, you're Oliver?" Hamid said with a smile, Oliver thought. Hamid's mask made it hard to see.
"I am, thanks for being so quick."
"No problem," Hamid said, as he put the car into gear and slowly took off.
"So we're going to the central station, correct?"
Oliver relaxed and looked out the window. This whole corona thing had really changed almost everything about his daily life. He didn't mind giving up some freedoms for it, because he had seen what the disease could do to someone from up close, but that didn't mean he liked it.
"So, Hamid, is business better or worse now that the stricter measures have been put in place?" Oliver asked, trying to distract himself from his thoughts.
"I would say they're better right now, but it's definitely been much worse as well," Hamid said as he turned into a street, looking very focused.
"Glad to hear it's going well now, at least."
"Yeah, I was worried for a while, because this is my main job, but at the moment I'm slowly making up for the slower period when I wasn't really allowed to transport anyone."
"Why do you think it's better now?" Oliver asked.
"I think it's because people are scared of public transport, really. A lot of people mention they don't want to be on the tram or the bus right now, too many people."
"Oh, yeah, I'm one of them too. I avoid public transport like the plague."
"Like the plague, even?" Hamid laughed, "Why so extreme?"
"I've seen them, man. 90% will wear a face mask and be gracious about it, but the 10% that won't are complete assholes about it."
Oliver shook his head, a motion Hamid didn't notice since he was focused on the road. The inner city part of Amsterdam was a chaotic place for cars, and he needed to pay attention.
"And when I say assholes, I really do mean it. Arguing, getting angry, shouting 'MY RIGHTS', all that stuff. And recently a bus driver was attacked and kicked in the head because he refused to take someone who didn't want to wear a face mask. Shit is crazy right now."
"I hear you. I heard about the bus driver story, and I just can't understand. I wear my mask to keep my passengers safe, and obviously also myself, but primarily my passengers."
"Yeah, I get that. I wear it for the same reason."
Oliver looked out the window again. He saw people with face masks, people without. They drove past a bar, and he saw groups of people outside, standing far too close to each other, without masks on, presumably giving each other corona by talking animatedly into each other's faces.
Like a pandemic version of barebacking.
Oliver chuckled at his own thought.
"So you've been doing this long?" he asked Hamid.
"About 4 years, but the past half year has felt like I'm doing a different job, almost."
"I can imagine. Have you considered giving it up and doing something else?"
"Yeah man," Hamid said as he turned into yet another far too car-unfriendly street and got stuck in a slow-moving line of cars. "I used to study medicine, but life happened and I had to drop out. I was considering maybe picking that up if the Uber gig didn't pick up again."
"Wait, you were going to be a doctor?"
"Man, that's awesome. But now that the Uber gig has picked up again, as you say, you've reconsidered?"
"Well, I need to make money for my family. If I wasn't making money with this, why not try and get that education, but now that it's providing for my family again, I don't feel like I can anymore."
Oliver thought for a bit.
"You should try when you see an opportunity, I think. I used to do a job that I hated, and I switched a while back to what I always wanted to do. I make a lot less now, but I'm far happier."
"I doubt being a nurse would pay worse than Uber, but I get what you mean. What did you used to do?"
"Don't hate me if I tell you," Oliver said, trying to look as apologetic as possible, which was hard due to the mask.
"I won't," Hamid said with a friendly tone.
"I used to be a recruiter, hiring people."
"Why would I have a problem with that?"
"Some people do. Glad you're not one of them!"
Hamid laughed again.
"But you're right though, I should look into maybe doing night time courses or a part-time study on the side. I can probably combine that with driving for Uber to a certain extent."
"Awesome, man, I think that would be good for you, work towards something greater."
"Thanks for the pep talk," Hamid said with a laugh. "We're here, by the way."
Hamid pulled up to the central station near the bus terminal, and turned his head towards Oliver.
"It was nice talking to you, and glad I could help you avoid the public transport like the plague," Hamid said.
"Same, and thank you very much! This was far more comfortable for sure," Oliver said as he grabbed his bag.
"Can I ask what job it was that you switched to? The one you always wanted to do?"
Oliver had already gotten out of the car but stuck his head back in to answer.
"Oh, I'm a bus driver now. You just drove me to my next shift."