An Uber twist of fate
When I opened the front door of the car that had come to pick me up, I didn't even notice there was someone sitting in the backseat. I usually try my best to avoid contrived human interaction, but every now and then you get some Chatty Cathy who starts schmoozin' you up about where you live, and then the inevitable, "So what do you do?" We were a few blocks into the ride and I was fidgeting with my camera settings when he finally said, "Hey."
I can't stand small talk and I definitely don't take Uber to meet people because I actually suffer from some pretty crippling social anxiety. Feigned friendliness -- especially in rideshares -- makes me want to turn my skin inside out. But when he asked about my camera, I answered politely because awkward car rides are even worse. It was dark and he was slouched in the backseat, but there was something sparkly about his smile. I was instantly intrigued.
Our cross-town conversation yielded one main common denominator: a mutual determination to hustle the San Francisco music journalism scene. Him as a writer, me as a photographer. I flexed my upcoming guest-list spot at The Independent, offering up an invitation to join as my plus-one. We immediately exchanged contact info and suddenly, the timing of this pool situation started to feel fated. I see you, fairy godmother.
As our ride came to an end, he stepped out of the car with the bravado of a man who just won over the too-cool chick that initially swerved his advances. I still didn't quite know what he looked like, so I watched as he walked around the car and into his destination. We made prolonged eye contact while he flashed one last big, boyish grin. I remember thinking, "Holy shit, he looks like Liam Hemsworth." I volunteer!
"Dude," I said to Alana, "I think I met the love of my life in the Uber over here." I said the line theatrically, fully aware I was pulling the ultimate rom-com trope. She laughed, indulging my premonition, and we began gushing over drinks. It was cute. We were both blissed on cloud nine that night -- me, for this strange meeting; her, because she'd recently gotten back together with her ex who was also a dear friend of mine. We toasted to their newly rekindled relationship, and to the culmination of a bizarre, unanticipated FBI investigation that had prompted our change in plans.
And Mai Tais. Lots of Mai Tais.