She swore as she pressed the elevator button for the third time in a row. This late at night, her attention span was shorter than a goldfish’s memory. A glowing 11 appeared on the screen and she muttered it to herself while pacing in front of the elevator, restless to get home.
A ding announced the elevator’s arrival and she shuffled inside. The light reflecting off her laptop screen was replaced by the light of her cellphone as she rode down. Her finger hovered over the Uber app, hesitating. She usually called one for the ride home, but it was always such a hassle to find the right car at her busy intersection. She decided she would try out the taxis lined up in front of the building instead. Work was paying for it, after all.
She got out of the elevator and strode uncertainly towards the line of taxis. Some of them had drivers out front, smoking cigarettes, while others seemed to stand alone. Still others were clustered together in a jagged circle, talking. Her steps slowed down even further. Were these drivers waiting on other customers?
She was saved from making any next moves when one of the drivers standing in front of his car noticed her slow but persistent approach. “Do you need a taxi, miss?” She nodded gratefully and accepted the offered open door.
The taxi was not new like some of the Uber cars she was used to, but it was traditional looking, with the company policies on the back of one seat and the meter ticking at the front. It smelled of moth balls and pine resin. The driver asked where she was going and she inputted her address into her GPS (even taxi drivers were embracing technology, it seemed.)
She had never been one for conversation, but he seemed more than willing to carry it. He told her about his wife and two children, his recent hair transplant surgery, and how he was an Uber driver until he got into an accident his insurance wouldn’t pay for. When she asked how the taxi industry was treating him, he explained the story of how six of his coworkers had been laid off at the same time and decided to become taxi drivers together. They got a phone plan with unlimited minutes, and were always on the phone with each other, in order to better pass jobs – and the time.
At the end of the ride, she asked him for his name – Rafael. He gave her his number so that she could text him for a ride any time she needed one. He promised that if he couldn’t pick her up himself, he would get another one of his friends to taxi her. She paid the bill, got out of his car, and went straight to bed.