I thanked my driver for finding me. He had rolled up to the curb and yelled my name, told me to get in, “Darlin.'” Then he told me it was his first day in Phoenix.

Really, I said? Yes. My driver said he and his wife had landed four hours ago and while she was getting a spa treatment, he decided to do some driving. He said that he and his wife live in Ireland, but they are currently in the States for the next 14 months (or as long as they want to be).

At first, he had a bit of an Irish accent. So to get him to talk, I tried to ask him a few questions, like what compelled him to drive while on this trip (he was bored). I asked him which states he was visiting, and he named six here on the western side of the U.S.. I told him that I was a bit of a gypsy by nature too, because of my own travels around the U.S.. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything even though I am grounded now and probably will be the rest of my life.

My driver asked me what I did for work, and I told him I no longer worked, as I am now a patient. I asked him what allowed him to travel so much, and he told me that he had a company that he sold off to a large gym chain when he was aged 27, and he is in his early 50s now. By this time his accent was completely gone. Of course, it’s been my experience that if you are U.S.-born and raised, and you spend enough time here, it’s quite common to have a U.S. accent and once in a while to pick up mannerisms of your current country. But when my driver was speaking, he was laying on the Irish pretty thick, and then as he got to speaking more it was gone. No trace. So when this story came up, my instinct was to assume that it was a lie. His accent was gone, and the concept of him being a very wealthy man of leisure could not have been true. My mental brakes were squealing.

My driver asked me how I spent my time. I told him a little bit about trying to help others find resources, and how Arizona is a “bootstraps” state. I explained that the federal laws are still set up how Reagan left them for housing, and Arizona hasn’t changed them, so housing is only replaced, not expanded. Also, when housing is replaced, it can be replaced with less bedrooms than what was torn down. So a place with 4 bedrooms may be torn down, but 1 or 2 bedrooms might take its place. My driver said he didn’t understand the motivation. I explained that it discourages people from applying for or obtaining housing, not because they don’t need it, but because there are so many that need it. Our wait lists are up to 10 years, even before COVID.

My driver said his wife’s family is in the Philippines. He said her family often doesn’t have enough for food, but they seem to barely pull enough together to survive, somehow. Mentally, my brakes went on again. If he (and his wife) have enough to live a life of leisure and they have for the past 25 years, why aren’t they helping her family? Is her family too proud to accept help, or does he not have enough money to help? My driver was just boasting about how he invested and made enough to survive for quite some time, enough for this lifetime. I didn’t ask. His accent was gone again. We talked about the corrupt government (I knew a fair amount about it; he said most people didn’t even have an idea of where to look for it on a map). But…did he think the money wouldn’t get to them if he sent it? I have so many questions. I didn’t think I could ask them though. I just didn’t trust anything.

Somehow we got onto the topic of gender. My driver had a transgender passenger who attempted to explain pronouns. My driver kept saying he didn’t understand. Then he said that on the driver’s license you mark man or woman. On a birth certificate you mark man or woman. On a job application you mark man or woman. [We were nearly to my driveway at this point.] According to my driver, you had to pick one, man or woman, because that was what you were. I asked him if someone’s gender affected their ability to drive or get a driver’s license. He said no, it didn’t matter. I asked him if a person’s gender affected the person’s ability to fill out an application. He said no, it didn’t matter. So I asked him how important it was for him to know if someone was male or female. My driver said he still didn’t understand. His accent was gone again. Then he complained that “they” were trying to force everyone to use “27 different pronouns.” I didn’t have time to look this up while in the vehicle, but here is an article that explains 27 genders – not pronouns.

So, I’m struggling with this ride. I don’t know how much was true. The guy said he had been to 9 countries and 26 states so far, but I honestly expected more from a guy who has gone on to supposedly live a life of leisure for 27+ years. I’ve been to 36 states and 7 countries. I’m not wealthy. What’s the deal? And what’s up with his fake accent?? That’s creepy. He was also recording our ride with a camera, which isn’t unusual, but now I’m wondering if he’s writing something – much bigger than anything I’ve written. A book about how he lies to get people to talk? I don’t know. So weird. I don’t think I could have handled another minute.