September 4, 2018.
He was old. Not your regular young Uber driver, but he was an interesting one.
It wasn’t my first time of getting a senior citizen as an Uber driver, but he definitely looked older than the previous ones.
The first one whose name I can’t remember right now had picked my friend, Duna and I from an event and I’d gifted him my bottle of Fanta at the end of the trip, I will never forget the way his face lit up as he thanked for the gift. Yea, I knew he could afford it, but it’s what I like to do.
The second one, Odiakosa looked and sounded so much like an on air personality (radio présenter, Gregory Odiakosa) that I knew and admired so much when I was in secondary school. I’d asked him if he was or knew the radio presenter and he, to my disappointment, said no. He asked me a couple of questions that suggested that he was the presenter, but he still insisted that he was not the one. Perhaps, he wasn’t so proud of being an Uber driver or he just wasn’t the presenter.
I will never understand why anyone will be ashamed of what he/she does for a living. As long as you are not committing a crime, you should be totally proud of what feeds, clothes and shelters you. If a politician, a doctor, a lawyer or a businessman can comfortably talk and sometimes, even brag about what he does for a living, an Uber driver, a roadside tailor, an ọkpa seller (my mother does this and I take so much pride in it) or a farmer should be able to raise his shoulders high, throw his head backwards and talk about his source of livelihood. There is dignity in labour!
“But no, no, no, no, there’s nobody in the world like you.” I sang to Tatiana Manaios’ Like You as I dropped my bag and jacket on the rear seat and made to join the driver in front.
“Like who?” He smiled at me.
“Hallo. Good evening, sir.” I greeted him. “I was just singing.”
“Good evening ma’am. You’re in high spirits, today must have been a great day?” He asked.
“Oh well, it was just like every other day, but I’m happy still. How was your own day?”
“Errrm… It was good. I’m starting your trip now.”
I began my journey with Ike, my third elderly Uber driver. I went through his profile on the app and I was quite impressed.
“It says here that you’ve been in the Uber business for ten months. How has it been?”
“Yea, I’ve been doing this for some months now and it’s been fine.”
“Full time or part time?”
“Part time. Once I drop you off now, I’m going home straightaway.”
“You really should. You need all the rest you can get now.”
He gave me that I-get-that-all-the-time smile and kept quiet.
Halfway into the journey, I noticed that the car was unusually quiet. I liked the fact that I was around an elderly person and I really wanted us to talk.
“Your profile says that you are forex trader on the side?” I asked.
“Yea. The Uber app lets me see some things about my driver, like what he does aside driving, how long he has been driving for, how many 5-star trips he has had and people’s review on him.”
“Ok. I actually do forex trading.”
I asked him to tell me about the business and he was a bit reluctant at first, but later opened up to me when I told him that I was interested in it.
“I lost a lot of money when I first started the business, so I will advise you to go to a proper school and learn before starting forex trading. In 2009, a young man walked into my office, set up some things in my laptop and told me do this or do that if this or that happens and put in so, so and so amount of money. I did what he told me and I was making money. I made a lot of money oh, sometimes, as much as $25,000. Then, my laptop crashed. I did not have the young man’s phone number; social media were not as active as they are now, and…”
“And smart phones were not so common then.” I chipped in.
“Exactly! I did not know what to do. Because I was not properly taught the art of forex trading, I lost N30 million, everything that I hard worked for and earned. I never recovered from that loss. I still earn from the business now, but I won’t let anyone, especially a young person like you, make the same mistake that I made. So, if you’re really interested, there is a school in Gwarimpa where they teach the basics. Go there, pay, learn and come back to me, then we can talk about you starting the business.”
“Thank you so much. But how legitimate is forex trading? When I was growing up, I heard radio jingles advertising seminars on forex trading; I paid and attended one of the seminars. When I got the venue and saw the resource persons and organizers of the seminar, I knew that they had nothing to offer me. If they made as much money as they claimed they did from forex, they’d be able to afford better shoes or even change their decolourised suits.”
“Those ones are scammers na. See, let me tell you something, if you have money, you cannot hide it, it must show on your body. So, if someone wearing worn-out shoes is teaching you how to make thousands of dollars, you should have every reason to question their genuineness. Forex trading is actually a very legitimate business. The problem with a lot of people now is that we all want to get rich quick and this desire blindfolds us. We don’t ask questions, we don’t investigate, we don’t research, we just put our money because a random person tells us that we’ll get 100% ROI in two weeks. People, especially young ones like you should never fall victims to certain things like MMM, Givers Forum…”
I quickly changed the topic back to forex trading because he was beginning to thread in dangerous zones.
There was a long traffic jam on the road leading to my house when we got to the Junction, it was as a result of the bad road caused by very poor drainage system. It was either a 10 minutes drive or 5 minutes walk.
Instead of him going through that stress, I asked him to end the trip at the junction and I walked the rest of the way home. He was really grateful.
It was 5star trip, one of my best Uber experiences.
#UberFrontSeatChallenge Written by Bibian Chinenye Pius-Urum
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