I drive you to your first dates, your best friends birthday parties and home from a night out on the town. I am your Uber Driver and these are your stories.
I knew what lay ahead, so I ordered a triple shot cappuccino from Reformatory Lab -- the unofficial base camp of the Everest-like Foveaux Street of Surry Hills in Sydney. I leant on the counter of Sydney’s best coffee shop for balance as I began stretching out my quads before focusing on the troublesome hammies. When the barista called out my name a kaleidoscope of butterflies erupted in my stomach like a scene from Jumanji. My time was up. Like Popeye with his Spinach I took a hearty gulp from my takeaway cup before glaring Northward at my maker.
The ascent up the insanely-steep Foveaux Street has claimed many. Locals approach this mother-of-all-hills strategically by stopping in for drinks breaks at the Keg & Brew, El Loco and The Forresters. At 7:30am on a Saturday morning I didn’t have that luxury. And this wasn’t any normal Saturday morning: a storm was brewing and I was caught in the middle.
Mother Nature was taunting me from my first step. From the heavens a gust of wind twisted and twirled down Foveaux Street like a dragon on Chinese New Year. The trees began laughing at me. They rustled their leaves in unison, releasing millions of tiny yellow flowers which danced down the mountain on the back of the dragon. “Dear God!!!” I gasped as the waves of yellow hell snaked toward me. The hayfever apocalypse had arrived, and I was its first victim.
I coughed, sneezed and spluttered my way to the summit, shielding my eyes from the storm with my forearm. I reached the top looking like I had spent an evening with Snoop Dogg. After what felt like an eternity I reached my car in Crown Street, opened the doors and took a deep breath of clean air. "Motherfucker," I muttered to myself as I wiped my nose on my arm, leaving a snail trail of clear snot from elbow to wrist. I took a glorious sip of my coffee before placing it in its cupholder.
In the mirror before me was a different man, a hardened man. So adverse my reaction to the pollen, my forehead had exploded with an angry, red rash and my eyes were puffy. Sir Edmund Hillary did not let the mountain conquer him and so I turned on the Uber app in anticipation of my first fare for the day.
Beep. Beep. Beep – Christopher, Paddington 7 minutes
I peeled off Oxford Street to the quaint back lanes of Paddington to find Christopher. The address entered in the app presented a beautiful Victorian style terrace down the street from The Lord Dudley Hotel (bloody good pub!) Within seconds of my arrival the black, wooden door slowly opened and an attractive blonde woman in her early-thirties appeared. Holding her hand was an adorable toddler dressed as a sailor, complete with hat and miniature boat shoes. He was clutching a book to his side as he skipped alongside his mother. In close pursuit was Christopher. Black polo shirt, chino shorts and thongs. Casual but classy.
The perfect little family piled into my backseat, with the little-lin in the middle. “Thank god you’re here captain! Rough seas ahead!” I whispered to Captain three-foot. He looked up at me with mouth gaping before turning to his dad and clutching onto his right arm. The poor little fella probably thought I was suffering a bout of scurvy, what with the bubbling rash on my forehead and blood-shot eyes.
“Hahaha!” laughed Christopher, “Are you going to steer us to safety Oscar?” he asked the world’s smallest sailor. Oscar nodded his head confidently and folded his arms before pointing his tiny hand through the gap in the front seats and exclaiming, “Lets go!” Christopher and I burst out laughing at Oscar’s commitment to his role as leader of this grand expedition. Oscar’s mum, however, was a million miles away staring down at her iPhone, an aggrieved expression on her face.
I was ferrying the young family to Darling Harbour for Oscar to peruse the passing ships. “Oscar was initially a pirate, weren’t ya mate?” said Christopher, patting Oscar gently on the head. “But he was getting up to a bit of mischief at school.”
“Haha! What kind of mischief?” I asked, genuinely intrigued.
“No Daddy! Don’t tell him!” squealed Oscar, as he opened up his book, aptly titled, “How I Became a Pirate.”
“Ohhh there were actually multiple complaints from other parents. Allegedly, Oscar was stealing the other kids lunches from their backpacks during nap time and then burying them in the sandpit. The pre-school teacher Mrs Nickson has been digging up mouldy Vegemite sandwiches for weeks. So we compromised with him. You can be a pirate, but you have to be a good pirate, hence the sailors costumer.”
“Too good!” I laughed.
For the next ten minutes Christopher and I chatted away about the Rugby World Cup, the best craft beer pubs in Sydney and our shared disbelief and sadness that our favourite snack Tasty Toobs had been discontinued. “They had the tomato zing of the old Burgerman chips with an unparalleled crunch,” Christopher argued vigorously. “You couldn’t be more right mate,” I replied, nodding my head in firm agreeance.
Our delicious conversation was getting tastier:
Christopher: “What about Monaco Bars, do you remember them? Maxibons don’t even come close!”
Me: “Mate, I’m still spewing about the crime of the century when Violet Crumbles were abducted from my local corner store.”
Christopher: “Do you remember pop tarts? I’d smash four with a glass of milk in my prime.”
Me: “I feel bloody awful for Oscar he missed out on Dunkaroos and Incredibites.”
Christopher: “Paddle Pop Mud Paddle. Shut the gates!”
Me: “Did you ever drink Voodoo Jelly? It was jelly but came in a drink bottle.”
We were about to brooch the delicate topic of the extinction of the chocolate Milo bar when it happened. The moment I knew would come one day but hoped wouldn’t.
“You right little buddy?” Christopher asked Oscar who had turned a ghastly shade of white and was staring dead ahead.
I watched in horror through my rear vision mirror as Oscar’s rosy little cheeks ballooned, eyes widened and lips tightened. With the cat like reflexes of Steve Smith in the slips, Christopher flung his left hand in front of Oscar’s face and cupped his mouth in an attempt to defuse the Mount Vesuvius of car spews. Torrents of white liquid cascaded down the tightly cupped hand of Christopher and rained down on poor Oscar’s book which was still open in his lap. And it kept coming...
“Fuck, fuck fuck!” Christopher yelled in desperation as he made use of his other hand to catch the apparent 50 litres of milk Oscar had consumed before getting in my car. “Olivia, can you please help?!” Christopher pleaded with his wife who had squished into her corner of the backseat to escape the wrath of the exploding toddler.
She panicked. Instead of reaching into her bag for a packet of tissues she flung both her hands beneath Christopher’s hands. Within seconds her hands were full with white liquid and what looked like half digested fruit loops. “FOR FUCK'S SAKE OLIVIA!” screamed Christopher, “GET THE TISSUES...NOT YOUR HANDS FOR FUCK'S” Olivia suddenly burst into tears and shrieked, “I’m sorrrrrry!!!”
I was so distracted I didn’t see the motorbike pull out from behind a parked car. I had no choice but to slam on my brakes. The first drop landed just behind my ear. The eye of the dairy storm then slapped the back of my head with such force it gave me whiplash. I immediately had a violent flash back to the time a neighbourhood bully launched a water bomb filled with stale urine at the back of my skull when I got off the school bus. I was eleven again and I was sad.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” said Christopher sincerely from the back seat. “Hey, it was bound to happen sooner or later mate,” I replied as I took off my t-shirt to mop up the back of my head. “Do you want me to take you home instead?”
“No No No!” Oscar gurgled from the backseat as Christopher dabbed at his mouth with a tissue. “I’m all better now! I’m better!” he exclaimed cheerfully.
“Mate, we can walk from here. I’m so, so sorry,” said Christopher as he and Olivia attempted to clean up the mess with the packet of tissues from Olivia’s bag. Before he left the car, Christopher opened his wallet and handed over a fifty dollar note. “Hopefully that covers the cleaning bill mate, haha! What a start to the day.”
I nodded my head with a smile as Christopher, Olivia and Captain Kellogg’s left my car. As I drove to the nearest car wash, shirtless and smelling like baby spew, I contemplated life and if maybe this was a sign to hang up the driving gloves (I don’t actually wear driving gloves) and find a “real” job. I quickly changed my mind when the nice man at the carwash had tears of laughter running down his face as I recounted my morning from hell.
If you have a car vomit story that can rival mine I would love to hear it! Also, if you’re outraged about any of the discontinued Aussie snacks I mentioned in this post please feel free to vent. If I missed out any crackers please tell me which ones!
Happy Ubering people!