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15,000th Uber trip... the rest of the story!

Recently I wrote a special blog about "Lucky" Lucas and my 15,000th Uber trip.

In this blog I'd like to share with my readers the preparations and frustrations that were associated with that milestone trip. Most people would not understand the various challenges and difficulties that might arise, but I assure you that it was much more complicated and frustrating than it might seem at the surface.

Several months prior to the trip I began making plans, preparations and purchases. I was even praying for this passenger in anticipation of sharing an exciting experience together. I was hoping for a joyful, sober, cooperative, English speaking, first party passenger who would appreciate the gifts and ride that was in the making. It would be a bonus if they had a unique name, as I had intended to create a post that would go up on my blog.

And so I began purchasing and collecting items that would be awarded to this fortunate passenger.

Not knowing who it would be... man or woman, younger or older, with or without children or grandchildren, etc., I gathered a wide assortment of items. These included an umbrella, hand sanitizer, tire shine, a mug, coloring books and markers, a Frisbee, candies, snacks, a keychain, gift cards, beanie babies, a scented candle, games and books. There was a wide variety that would provide something special for anyone!

At a yard sale I found a large banner that was created for the celebration of Y2K. It was very festive and read "Celebrate 2000"! With the help of my wife, we reconstructed the banner to read "Celebrate 15,000"!

I was getting more excited as the day drew closer, and was now only fifty trips from reaching this goal. Some special gift bag donations then began to materialize.

My friend, Rusty, who owns Indigo Plumbing, heard about my milestone trip and offered a certificate for a free service call. Other friends, the Bakers from Go Mobil Signs, offered to create a special "Thank you" sign and also donated several hats and T-shirts. The good folks at Christ Centered Life Store provided a beautiful leather Bible, and Dunkin's Diamonds donated a dazzling cubic zirconium necklace.

I had so many gifts that it would take three large gift bags to contain it all, and there were still extra items, as well. The special "Thank You" gifts for my 15,000th passenger were valued at approximately $500!

With the additional items that I had collected I determined to give gifts to ten other passengers as I got closer to number 15,000, counting down from 14,990. So, besides the gift bags, I prepared a large basket filled with other goodies to give along the way.

My Saturday morning began with a trip to the airport followed by a long and arduous day of laboring with some friends who were cutting down a large tree. I was exhausted after five hours of heavy lifting and man handling a chain saw, but was grateful to take a shower and a short nap before turning on my Uber app in anticipation of an exciting evening.

Tatiana was my first passenger of the evening, and she was so excited to receive a camouflaged ball cap. She exclaimed, "I actually feel like I WAS your 15,000th passenger!" Another passenger was celebrating her 23rd birthday and was ecstatic to get a large scented candle. A repeat passenger with a fabulous name, Ziyantee, selected a special keychain shaped like an AK-47.

These ten passengers on my countdown were all great and were grateful to be a part of this special evening. But number 15,000 had finally arrived early Sunday morning while I was in the Gateway community. Her name was Betsie and I was excited to be on route for this landmark trip! As I was preparing to enter her subdivision I received a heartbreaking message on my app. Betsie canceled her Uber trip!

"Oh no!" I lamented. This would have been such a special trip for her! There was a sign, beads, and gift bags prepared for her... but she pressed "CANCEL"!

Too bad for Betsie, but I got my next request.

Number 15,000 would now go to a passenger named Kamara! Once again, I regained my excitement as I pulled up to the corner of Broadway and Main in downtown Fort Myers. I was super happy to have a passenger with such a unique name and was already considering a title for her blog... "Kamara... has some good Karma!"

There on the corner were three attractive black women, probably in their twenties, and dressed for a night at the club. As they entered my Hyundai Sonata I was so happy for their good fortune and the opportunity to shower them with beads, a commemorative sign, and $500 worth of gifts!

After handing Kamara the sign and beginning to explain that she was my 15,000th Uber trip, we traveled a few blocks when she suddenly asked if we could pull over. Concerned that one of them might be feeling ill, I quickly complied and found a safe place to stop the vehicle.

Shockingly, this stop was actually a "first" for me.

Kamara handed me the sign and the beads, opened her and got out. She then instructed her fellow passengers to exit the vehicle. She calmly said, "We are leaving and will call another Uber."

Baffled and a bit heartbroken, I watched them all walk away.

Didn't they understand what I've been preparing for them and how thrilled I was to have them as my 15,000th Uber trip? Obviously not.

In over 20,000 ride share trips with Uber and Lyft this was the very first time that anyone ended the trip and walked away. She obviously felt uncomfortable. Maybe it was just too good to be true, or possibly I came across as some creepy old guy, but Uber trip 15,000 walked away.

My perfect 5 star rating (That's based on my last 500 trips) would suddenly dip to a 4.99 star rating, as Kamara did not consider this to be a 5 star experience and gave me a low rating.

How disheartening... but NEXT!!!!

A new request quickly came from Izabel in North Fort Myers.

On my way to the pick up I did my best to encourage myself and prepare with a joyful smile and a good attitude. After all... this would be my 15,000th Uber trip. Right?!?!

My sign was lying upside down on the dashboard and the beads were hanging from the mirror when I pulled up to her PIN location.

It only took a matter of seconds to realize that this would NOT be my 15,000th trip. Izabel and her companion had just arrived in the United States from Brazil and they spoke NO ENGLISH.

How could I possibly explain to them about this special trip and all that had been planned?

How could we possibly communicate when we couldn't even get our translation app to assist?

And now the three of us sat silently, with me waiting awkwardly for the trip to be completed...

unfortunately, unable to communicate.

Who would have thought that this evening would be filled with so many frustrations and challenges? I wanted it to be a special, fun, exciting and exhilarating experience... but instead it felt more like the "Bad News Bears".

The night was wearing on and as the clock drew closer to 2:00 am I was getting a bit nervous about my next passenger, who may have overindulged at a downtown tavern. But soon my final request of the evening appeared on my Uber app. His name was Lucas, and it was now Sunday, October 17, at 1:43 am.

Lucas was with a friend, and I picked them up at the same intersection where I had previously met Kamara and her girlfriends. Based on my numerous failures, I decided to explain the situation very slowly. I told Lucas and Nick about milestone trips that come up from time to time, and showed them a photo and blog of my 10,000th passenger from two years ago. I then went on to share that Lucas had the good fortune to be my 15,000th Uber trip. I handed him the sign and draped ten beaded necklaces around his neck in celebration of this new milestone!

While Lucas was contemplating his good fortune and admiring his sign, his friend, "negative Nick" exclaimed, "This guy is a liar! He hasn't done that many trips! What an idiot!"

For the duration of the trip Lucas remained calm and positive, but Nick continued to scoff and deride his driver.... ME!

At one point while I was reading a list of prizes that were in the gift bags, Nick replied, "You don't have any of those gifts!" Then he shouted, "Watch the road, you #$%@$#%! You are going to get us all killed!"

Lucas was a gem of a guy and tried his best to keep Nick under control, but it was definitely a challenge. He agreed to take some photos and accepted my invitation to the Ubernamez blog. He had a grateful attitude and I was happy to finally have number 15,000 under my belt. When we finally arrived at their destination I attempted to get some good photos for the blog and do a short interview with Lucas, but Mr. Negativity kept interfering and making it very difficult. (I actually had to find Lucas the following day to retake the photos.)

The entire evening seemed like a massive disaster and I had a difficult time getting to sleep based on all that had transpired! What a mess! It wasn't what I had envisioned at all!

The next morning as I was getting ready for church and preparing to teach my Sunday School class, I complained to the Lord... "Why did my "special" trip have to be so difficult? I wanted it to be such a wonderful blessing and a night to celebrate, but it ended in frustration and disappointment."

As I sat for a moment in silence I heard a still small voice speak to my spirit. Here was God's reply.

"I know exactly how you feel, Gerry. I experience that same frustration day after day. You see, like you, I have made special preparations and plans for humanity and every living soul. I've created an amazing world that provides everything that a man can possibly need. I've provided the cure for the deadly disease of sin by sending my own Son to take the punishment and pay the debt. They need only to believe and put their faith in Jesus, and the broken relationship between us can be restored. I have prepared blessings on earth and even greater blessings in heaven!

But I've had the same response that you had last night.

You got cancelled by Betsie. Well, I've been dealing with the cancel culture for a long time. People cancel Me out everyday. They credit time and chance to the world I've created... CANCEL! They don't allow children to hear of my word and my ways, and I've been kicked out of public schools... CANCEL! They try to remove my name and my wisdom from all aspects of government and politics. They create a "wall of separation" that was never intended to be... CANCEL! They even rewrite history to deny my existence and involvement in the affairs of mankind... CANCEL!

Yes, I understand, all too well, what it's like to be cancelled.

Kamara and her friends just walked away. I know what that's like, too. People walk away from Me all the time. They don't have time for Me and they don't believe, or even know of all the blessings and wonders that lie in store for those who put their trust in Me. There are millions who attend churches every week, but once they leave the building they walk away from the faith and act as if they never heard My words of love and encouragement. Some folks think that they know it all. They walk away from the truth of the Gospel and will not listen to those I send to offer them life eternal. Many who once believed and have confessed Me as Lord are seduced by the foolishness of other men, or of their own sinful desires.

Yes, I understand, all too well, what it's like to have someone walk away.

And it seems that you and the couple from Brazil had a communication problem.

Yes, I've had a problem with that Myself. Although I've tried to speak clearly through the prophets, dreams, Bible prophesy, My son Jesus, pastors, the Bible, and even creation itself, I have a hard time getting my message of love and grace through to this stiff necked human race.

In reality, some people don't actually want to hear from Me. They avoid and disregard My attempts to communicate. They love their sin and wickedness too much, so they turn a deaf ear to My Word, the Holy Bible.

Finally, you had some challenges even when you did get through to Lucas, lucky number 15,000, because he was being influenced by his negative friend, Nick.

Yup! I have some experience with this scenario, as well!

My Holy Spirit reaches a soul, convicts them of their sin and need of salvation through Jesus. They are open to hear My words and accept the amazing gifts and life that I've prepared. And yet, they have some negative, unbelieving, unrepentant "friend" who tries to discourage and keep them from receiving all the gifts that I have prepared. They shout, "CANCEL, WALK AWAY and DON'T LISTEN!"

But thankfully, there are some, like Lucas, who are open to believe and receive. These are the blessed ones who will enjoy the gifts that I've prepared. Our relationship will be restored and they will be showered with eternal blessings.

Don't be discouraged.

I understand your frustration.

Continue to reach out in sincere love, and celebrate with everyone who will believe and receive!"

So... How about you?

Do you realize that there is a God who loves you and wants to bless you?

He sent His son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for your sins. He is full of mercy and grace.

Your salvation is a gift and requires only that you believe and put your faith in Jesus Christ.

I am praying for you! Don't "cancel", don't "walk away" and don't fail to "listen"!

Simply believe and receive all that God has for you.

Read the Bible and get to know Jesus. Start in the book of John.

The "Chosen" app might be another good place to start. Although it IS NOT the Bible, it may give you a visible glimpse of an invisible God, by "seeing" the works and miracles of Jesus.

God bless YOU!


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