2:17pm I've just dropped off a couple at Fisk University. A college student climbs and and I head off to an area I'm not too familiar with.
"I like that music," he says. "What station is that?"
"You go to Fisk?" I ask
"Yes sir," he says. (I'm still not comfortable with being called 'Sir. It' a southern thing and where I'm from 'youse' is the common form.)
"Well," I say, "that's your station: WFSK."
"Oh...I guess I need to check it out."
I smile. "88.1 on your FM dial," I say, sounding like an announcer, so I add. "How's your day going?"
He nods. "OK...had a wierd start though.
"I was accosted...by an old lady. I was waiting for my bus and she came up to me and asked me if I could help her out, so I asked her what she needed and she said 'You know.' (He gestures as if smoking.) She said 'You college boys got the weed; you got the good stuff,' she said."
I nod. And...?"
"I don't do no weed," he says. "Not since high school anyways."
"Me neither." I lie to keep the conversation going.
"Then you know what she says?" he asks.
"No," I say. "What?"
"She says 'I can give you a good time, you know,' and she winks and reaches for me...down there."
I have no comment.
"Down there," he repeats. "She says she's gonna show me a good time, that old lady."
"Hmmm" I murmur. "Just how old do you suppose she was?"
He shrugs. "At least fifty."
He points to the next stop sign. "And that's the corner," he says. "Right there."
I see a bus pulling away.
"You can let me out there," he says.
I nod again. "You bet."
I pull over and let him out and he turns before closing the door. "Eight-eight point one," he says.
I smile. "Watch out for the old ladies."
4:22pm I've dropped off a guy at the airport and head to the Rideshare Parking area. When I pull in I'm automatically entered in the drivers queue. I'm number 50.
I park the car, climb out, and walk over to a group of men smoking and talking.
I say nothing; just listen.
Two of them speak a language I can't identify. It sounds middle-eastern...to my untrained ear.
One of the men turns toward me. "Who you drive for?" he asks.
I tell him the name of the company and he nods and tells me he drives for the competition.
"I go to drive for your company," he says, "but they want too much...er..information. My company says 'Hey...you got two eyes and four wheels? You're OK. You drive for us."
I smile and nod. "I've heard that," I say.
The second man chimes in. "I drive for both," he says. "I double my chances. OK?"
"OK," I reply. "How many hours do your drive per week," I ask. "On average."
He shrugs. "Sixty...maybe seventy," he says. "Is all I do. I drive. This is my job."
I don't reply. I know this is true for quite a few of the drivers. It's their main source of income, but it's not the same as a 'real' job. Like me, they are independent contractors. They don't get any benefits, taxes aren't taken out of their pay, and they have to pay for their own health insurance and if they want it, unemployment and workers comp.
There's a pause, a lull in the conversation, so I ask. "How does driving here compare to driving wherever you lived before?"
They all grin.
One of them points to the cars around us. "It's better there," he says. "There are no women drivers."
5:58pm Just my luck. It's a group of bachelorettes wearing matching tank tops with the words "Gettin' Shitty in Music City." They're discussing the philosophical implications of having 'fun.'
"OK," the apparant leader says, "I got so depressed last night. I mean, like, when the good time is over and like you know it's over and you get depressed 'cause it's over. I swear I was so depressed."
"Oh Yeah..." the others say in unison.
"I mean, like, depression is such a bummer. You know?"
They know...they know.
"I was like, ready to eat a gallon of ice cream. You know? And I put down my cell phone and all of the sudden I realized, hey, I've got pictures."
"Oh yeah," the group says.
"So then I realize I can look at the pictures and I can, like reminisce, you know? I can, like, remember the fun and kind of have fun remembering the fun."
"Sure," one of her companions says. "Pictures...yes."
"Yes," the leader continues. "So I looked at the pictures and I started to feel better."
Her voice takes on a jubilant tone.
"Honest...I felt so much better. So you know what I did?"
"I put them on my FaceBook page," she says. "And that's what I'm gonna do from now on whenever I get depressed."
Another companion sighs. "That is so nice," she says. "Thank you so much for sharing that."
And I think 'Just another girl gettin' shitty in Music City.'