I took Lyft to friend's home and back, 1/2 hour each way.
Going out, Ahmed.
Ahmed is a moslem. Things are getting worse by the day. He is thinking of leaving. To Saudi Arabia or to Dubai or to Sierra Leone. Yes, Sierra Leone war was bad, but it has gotten much better since - he has friends there. Or Dubai. Would like Dubai, but you need money to live in Dubai.
He has lived in Atlanta 13 years. He grew up in Newark. Growing up in Newark was very rough. Since he moved here, the whole family has followed him - not only the parents, also both grandmothers have followed him - everybody lives in Atlanta now.
My friend wonders whether Ahmed speaks English. It is a curious, a very white southerner question. Like, was Barack Obama born here? Ahmed's ancestors have probably arrived upon these shores earlier than most American's ancestors, on slave ships. So suppose your people were enslaved, and then treated not much better after the abolition. Would you want to go to the enslavers' church, get a name like "Peter"? Not obvious. Was not obvious to Cassius Clay, either. Islam is an egalitarian alternative.
So I call Lyft again. Kennethia picks up my ride. My friend is baffled. "Where do they get these names?" Well, it is the same story again. If you are African-American, why would you pick a name Louise or Jennifer? Or Guðrún?
Kennethia is young and lean and pretty. The car is perfumed and we are listening to Shereen Jenkins, who -Kennethia says- is wonderful. He reminds her -and now that is saying how old she is- he reminds her of "Dirty Dancing". Such a sweet young couple. She does insurance processing for veterans, she's driving when she has some free time to get some extra income. Uber, she does not like. Had bad experiences with that company. What bad experiences? As she gesticulates, she touches my arms, my knees. Nobody ever touches anybody in America. So I'm thinking - rowdy customers?
No, this is what happened. Her son, he wants to be an engineer. He's always in his room. He does not do extracurricular things in his school. So she finally talked him into taking jiu jitsu classes in X3 Sports. One day he orders an Uber, the driver comes, looks at his big backpack full of sports equipment, tells him to forget it, and drives away, reporting the kid to Uber as a no-show. She protested to Uber, but there is no way to get to these people to respond or do anything. Lyft is different - there is a phone number, and you can talk to them. Ever since then, the kid will only go if his mother drives him to X3 Sports. So she has to leave her office, drive him, go back to work, pick him up afterwards again.
He is a sensitive kind. She hears a noise from his room - something like lips smacking. Another time, it's a different sound, something like rice grains falling on paper. She goes in. The kid is not wathcing porn. "Ma, I'm feeling tense. It's music to relax me." The mother in law is all organic and vegetarian, and so is the husband, so Kennethia is switching over to vegetarian diet. She's also switched over to Tom's Toothpaste. Used to brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, have I read about what that does to you? I should check it on the internet. Flour is really bad for you. Miracle she's still alive.
Hubby calls. Goes straight through car's hifi, it's a bit inappropriate for general audience, what he has to say to his wifey, but she does not know how to turn off the speakerphone.
There we are. It used to be John Birch Society that was up in arms about the government and fluoridation. Now the they are the government, and it's vegetarians who are up in arms. It is all about our precious bodily fluids. She has not seen "Doctor Strangelove", but she should.
She wants me to give her lots of stars. I did.