Driving for a Living
A chance encounter at just the right time.
NOTE to My Readers: Over the next few weeks, I will be winding down these short stories. Our of gas. Out of steam. Out of ideas. Still appreciate your support and readership. My goal at this point is to make it to the end of 2023, which is a little over a hundred stories from now.
Four months into her Uber and Lyft gigs, everything was going well for Sheila. The money and tips weren’t great but they paid the bills with a little left over to trade the stock market, something she was starting to enjoy. The constant trips were hard on her two-year-old car but she had to do what she had to do to make it work.
Sheila purposely drove the afternoon and evening shifts so she could be awake for the market open, place some trades and get a few more hours of sleep before heading out again.
Mostly after midnight she hauled around drunks and friends of drunks. With a concealed .45 near her seat in the car, she wasn’t so worried about people robbing her or worse during the dark, drunken hours. The drunks were harmless and didn’t have control of their faculties. Talkative but harmless. Sometimes they talked and sometimes bragged about their businesses and investments, and Sheila took copious notes in her head. She never knew who she was talking to but instead looked them up after the ride if needed, since she already had personal information about the person from the app. Any CEO or investor she hauled around was worth considering, and what he said at his most vulnerable time.
“Sheila,” the balding man with his necktie loosened, said as he closed the door, “I’ve got a hot tip for you, young lady. Once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“Yes sir. I’m listening.” She had to because he was seriously slurring his words.
“You see, I’m married with three adult children and the Chief Technology Ossifer for the largest oil company downtown. I won’t say its name in polite company.”
“Yes sir,” said Sheila.
“I’ve given my heart and soul to this company, Sheila, and today I was canned. Just like that. Six months severance and a thanks-but-no-thanks we don’t need you anymore handshake. Escorted out the door like I was a common criminal.”
The ride was silent after Sheila told him she was sorry.
“My tip for you is, well ya know The Good Book says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It’s right, ya know? My oldest son won’t speak to me, I am officially unemployed and my marriage is in deep deep trouble. All because of too much money. It softens you, makes you do stupid things.”
“Well, here we are, sir, you’re home,” Sheila said.
The CTO looked out the window and swayed a bit.
“Stupid things,” he said with a heavy heave. “I guess I’ll have to face the music. Thanks for your ear, Miss Shhheila. You’re a very good lisssener. Just be careful about the love of money. It’ll lead you down the wrong path every sssingle time.”
“Yes sir,” Sheila said and she meant it.