I thanked my driver for finding me. I was actually waiting an hour for this ride. Two other drivers had ditched me; one as soon as he got the ride assigned to him, and another pretended that I was a no-show. It was almost like the guy who did the screeching u-turn. I called dispatch and explained that it was a very small parking lot, only one row of cars, but they told me they had to take the driver’s word that I deliberately ditched the ride. So I was standing for 45 minutes for nothing. Luckily this guy showed up within 15 minutes after getting the assignment.

This car was decked out in red, white and blue regalia. My driver was in a long-sleeved t-shirt that was all about U.S. pride. Even his electronic game wanted to start with a quiz asking which flag was being displayed. It was the U.S. flag, of course. My driver told me that he was okay with me not wearing a mask, as he wasn’t going to wear one. I told him that I really wasn’t safe not wearing one, as I was just coming out of the office working on getting my 8th rare disease diagnosed and I have the immune system of a cancer patient. He said that it didn’t really matter to him, and he was fine. I let him know that I still had to be careful; my primary care doctor just passed away from COVID on October 2nd, and he was the same age as me and strong, much higher on the healthy scale than me. I couldn’t take any chances. My driver wanted to tell me he didn’t believe. He started to shake his head. He started to form the words. But then I changed the subject.

I asked him if he was native to AZ or if he was a transplant. My driver said he had lived here 20 years, which is about the time that I have lived here, give or take a few years. I took a wild guess and asked if he rode a motorcycle, explaining that my family members all liked to ride, and they had quite a history. He very enthusiastically said it was his therapy. We talked about how great it was to live in the desert and the mountains and to be able to sit with our doors open in November. My driver said he has a brother who lives in the Washington DC area who just got a “trike,” and my driver asked him if he liked driving it. The response was “Shut up.” Apparently it’s already too chilly to drive it and enjoy it. Here in AZ a lot of motorcyclists drive year round but the winter months can get to 25 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit, especially when it’s between 1:00 am and 6:00 am. We only have sand, nothing to hold onto the heat when the sun goes down.

We ended the ride on a positive note, even though my driver and I were very obviously on opposite sides of the spectrum as far as political stances went. Luckily he was a cheerful fellow and I try to avoid poking the bear. But dang, it really bothers me that we are becoming lax again in wearing masks. It isn’t because the virus has been eradicated. It’s because we’ve predictably become bored again (or maybe we haven’t stopped). What happens if you are on one of those slingshot rides at the state fair and you take off your restraints mid-sling? You have about four seconds to feel sorry for yourself before it’s nighty-night forever. What happens if you contract COVID and it’s time to go on the ventilator? You have about four seconds to feel sorry for yourself, and then it’s nighty-night forever.