A few weeks ago, me and three friends settled into our seats at the Norse Theatre, excited to hear our idol, “punk poet laureate” Patti Smith talk about her new book and sing a few songs. Michele leaned over as the lights went down and whispered, “Remind me to tell you about my fight with a Millennial in the uberPOOL”.
This pronouncement broke the fantasy of the entire evening.
In the closed, comfy environs of the Norse, there was nary a Millennial in sight, since most have no idea who Patti Smith was, or is. This meant:
There was little to no incessant nattering during the show.
No phones rang or buzzed or beeped.
People behaved themselves.
Everything was orderly.
We were not outnumbered.
We were not the oldest people in the room.
It was heaven.
Patti Smith lumbers on stage. In her uniform of black jeans, black boots, black blazer and white T, hair washing down her back in wild waves of grey, this 70-year old badass could melt a selfie stick with the arch of an eyebrow.
After the show, we stopped for dinner and drinks at Absinthe to discuss and profess our love for Patti and the wonderful lecture/show we just experienced. But not before we begged Michele to share her Uber ride from hell.
First, I must say I myself have never, will ever take an uberPOOL. My Super Shuttle multi-passenger days are behind me. I don’t want to be dropped off third, or second or sit next to a stranger in such close proximity that it’s rude to talk or not talk, a recipe for disaster and annoyance if you ask me. But this is not my story. It’s Michele’s. (Read more about her here and here.)
And on this particular Tuesday morning, she was running too late to take Muni, and too poor for the luxury of a solo ride, so had to wade in the public Pool. And it was nasty.
Back in the Absinth booth, we clink our cocktails and settle in for her ride.
Michele slides into the front seat. Within one minute the Millennial in the back answers her phone and proceeds to have a loud, inane and obnoxious call with her boyfriend, which Michele was able to ascertain by the abundance of babes and pet names flying. Per Michele, “She was speaking to him as if she were lounging on her bed just talking away….”
It wasn’t just the content that drove her bat-shit. It was her voice, her inflection, her “vocal fry.” Instead of explaining this horrific phenomenon, check out the video and cover your ears:
Michele takes a deep breath and thinks to herself, “oh, don’t be so uptight” hoping the call will end any minute WHICH DOESN’T HAPPEN and continues THE ENTIRE TRIP and so she blurts out a spontaneous “WOW” under her breath, an audible white flag.
Enter the Uber driver. “What’s wrong?” he asks.
Michele responds, quietly, “I’m amazed that she thinks this is okay.”
The Millennial in the back seat somehow pries her attention from the boyfriend and sneers over the backrest into Michele’s neck, “are you talking about me?” before resuming her phone torture, only this time incorporating Michele, with the incredulous “can you believe she said that” and the “uptight” and the “bitch” and finishing it off with the “I am paying for this” at which point our hero calmly turns around and slowly says
SO AM I.
The Millennial finally hangs up. Michele fantasizes about climbing into the back to shove the Millennial out of the door and into traffic. She takes another deep breath. She smiles to herself, even though the tension is palpable. She doesn’t give a fuck.
Enter the Uber driver. Again. He announces he’ll be dropping Michele off in 9 minutes, Megan (the Millennial has a name) in 1, and did Michele have anything more she wanted to tell the Millennial. WTF? Was the driver studying to be a therapist she later asked? (No). He pressed on that Michele should say something, at which point Michele turns around and politely says to the Millennial:
“I’m deeply saddened by the fact that you think it’s okay to rattle on for so long, not finding it a bit rude. The sense of entitlement and severe lack of empathy displayed by you and your peers makes me incredibly sad. That’s all.”
The Millennial tries to defend herself and eventually gives up, gets out, and gives Michele a “bitch please” look as she slams the door.
“Did you need closure from this experience” Michele asks the driver to which he replies, “she was looking at me in the rearview mirror expecting me to say something to you” as if it was MICHELE who was the problem, who was the Uber bitch.
“And that”, Michele says back in the booth at Absinthe, “is the fucking punch-line of this whole thing – she seriously thought she had done nothing wrong. That she’s entitled to and feels zero remorse for her “raised by wolves” behavior. Her parents should be fired.”
After another round of drinks, frites and oysters (them, not me), we shared an Uber home, clutching our M Train books gifted at the Patti Smith show. We laughed and luxuriated in our Millennial-free bubble, knowing we’d be back out in the wild the next day, and the next, and the next.
Crazily enough, Michele has waded back into the kiddy Pool without incident. She is alive and well.
Me and the other two are fine, too.
We will survive this. We always do.