I thanked my driver for finding me. About two minutes before he was due to pick me up, a big FedEx truck pulled up and blocked most of the entrance to the building, so I had to move to the side. There happened to be a woman waiting in a truck, and she yelled to me that she liked my eye makeup. Then she told me she was 72. Then she asked me how old I was, and she told me her daughter was two years younger than me and getting her pancreas checked out because something mysterious was happening with it. I told her I had pancreatitis a handful of times and it was incredibly painful, so I hoped they would figure out the problem and wished them well. The pancreas is tricky.

I got into the car and I could tell almost immediately that my driver was on the autism spectrum, or neurodivergent, as some like to refer to themselves. Sometimes the speech patterns and mannerisms clue me in. It helps that I have a handful of friends who are and have learned a lot from them. I have to be careful with my sarcasm and jokes, because they aren’t well-received; just the facts, ma’am!

My driver said he had seven more rides to go, and then he could go home. I asked if it was because of surge pricing, and he said no. He wanted to get home because he was making some treats for his sister’s birthday. He told me about a fried treat he was going to make. He was going to crush some blue Takeis (they make blue???), mix them with cream cheese, stuff them inside some whole jalapenos, wrap those in bacon, roast those (I’m assuming in the oven on broil), and then finish in a fryer. My driver said his dad is a chef. My driver said that if I wanted to make everyone happy at a party, his grandmother taught him to blend 3 jalapenos, 2 green chilis, a block of cream cheese and 8 ounces of sour cream in a blender or food processor until everything is smooth, no chunks, and that’s a dip. So there you go, folks. Spicy! He also talked about putting together a “real” meat and lettuce salad, not one made out of cold cuts. And my driver said his dad was a chef, and so everything had to go through him for his approval. Sometimes his dad would complain about too much sauce or not enough flavor. His dad was a tough critic.

While we were driving, my driver’s wife called, and so he answered over the car’s loudspeaker and told her in Spanish he would call her back. When he hung up, I asked how long they had been married and he said a year. He said they had been dating since high school. My guess is that he is in his mid-20’s, so they have probably been together for a good, long while. My driver told me that she had turned to him one day and said, “So, when are we getting married?” The next day, he got a ring. The day after that, he woke her up very early, around 6 am, and told her to get up and dressed, because the house was on fire. Of course, it wasn’t, but he couldn’t think of anything else. Then he took her to her favorite restaurant – where her cousin is the manager. She was distracted, looking at the menu, and he got down on one knee and he had to tell her to look at him. Obviously she said yes, but she was really confused about the house being on fire. My driver reassured her that the house wasn’t actually on fire, and then the cousin came over and told her everyone was fine, there was no fire.

My driver and I talked a little bit about why I’m not able to drive anymore. I told him that I have all of these crazy conditions and my body is doing weird things. He said that it maybe isn’t weird, but it’s better to say that it’s unique. This is also something that neurodivergent folks can teach us about, and that is how words affect those around us. Words make a difference.

Toward the end of our very long trip, the Scottsdale Police Department called. Now, my driver and I had just had a brief chat about his encounter with them. I thought I understood what happened during the encounter, but when my driver put him on speaker and he asked for some specific info, I realized that maybe I didn’t get the whole story. No matter, though. That’s not what bothered me. It was much easier for me to pick up in person that my driver was neurodivergent than it was for the cop. The cop was being an absolute testicle. The cop asked my driver if he had the license plate of the car that was involved, and my driver said he couldn’t give it at the moment because he was driving. Honestly, I don’t know many people who have their plates memorized. So the cop got a really dickish attitude and started yelling at my driver, telling him that every time they called him, all he did was give excuses. Of course it made my driver even more nervous and he stuttered. At the same time, I was trying to direct him into my driveway, which is short, and then to stop at the appropriate spot to drop me. As soon as we got there, he bolted out of the car and read off the plate to the cop. I really wanted to yell back at the cop and tell him to slow his roll. I wanted to get on the phone and give him the rest of the missing info and then tell him to eat my socks. I wanted to remind the cop that there was no major or even minor crime committed, and maybe he needed some cookies and a nap. But no. The cop hung up, my driver went on to the next call, and I went inside my apartment, and we all went on, somewhat disturbed for different reasons.