AN UBER RIDE TO REMEMBER
I haven’t updated this blog in awhile, and this week when I went back to look at my draft folder I realized I had a lot of different posts that I began but for whatever reason I never got to completing it. I realized that this one was 80% complete, so I went ahead and finished it to post.
I thought it was worthy to share mostly so I can always remember one of the strangest week’s I’ve had in 2019. Like, EXTRA strange.
Note, this post was originally drafted at the beginning of February
Last month in January I had a really really weird week that culminated in one of the most random Uber rides I’ve taken. So random that I wanted to write about it so that I could remember the experience forever.
To back track - lets start with how the weird week unfolded:
Earlier in the month of Jan I had volunteered to be part of the planning committee at work to celebrate Chinese New Year at one of our Friday afternoon’s TGIF happy hour. I (of course) volunteered to plan the “food” category, which to me just entailed writing a list of things I wanted to eat and submitting the list to our kitchen team to see if they can make it happen. Baos? Yes! Dumplings? Yes! An entire roasted suckling pig? Umm… hold up.
Ok the suckling roasted pig was not my idea but someone (not me I swear!) threw it in the idea hat and really gunned hard for it. Originally we were shot down but that person persisted and made it happen - we were going to get that roasted pig! He ended up ordering it at a barbecue Chinese restaurant in China town and the deal was that we needed to go pick it up, transport it back to the office, and deliver it to our chef who would carve it up for us. Great! Easy right? THINK AGAIN!
The guy who arranged the roasted pig was going to drop off the deposit to the restaurant earlier in the week, but due to traveling for work commitments he couldn’t be there day of for the event. I of course who volunteered to rep the “food” category of this party felt obligated to step in to help deliver the pig! But wait - I don’t drive, and I don’t have access to a car. And I sure as hell knew there was no way an Uber was going to let me get into their car with an entire 25lb visible roasted pig! (Would you???)
How was I going to get this pig from China town all the way back to the office?!
So I asked my coworker who arranged it where he ordered it from, because if nothing was set in stone I wondered if the restaurant that I always order my Chinese food from which was also WAY closer to the office could DELIVER a roasted pig for us. So cue that morning - major laser back and forth between me, my coworker who was on his way to drop off the deposit to the restaurant he originally contacted, and me frantically trying to get in touch with MY restaurant to see if they had a roasted pig and could deliver it. Unfortunately my guy had to call HIS supplier to hear back and ultimately an hour later - confirmed no bueno, he couldn’t make it happen for me and better luck next time.
Le sigh. Back to square one - how was I going to pick up and deliver a 25lb roasted pig to the office?!
Back again I go to my coworker to brainstorm. He ends up procuring access to the corporate van we have that goes back and forth from our Toronto office to the Waterloo office everyday BUT Friday (yay!). He also enlists the help of another coworker to drive me there. So ok great, we have it all figured out even though at this point with all the back and forth and logistical planning and challenges, I was starting to regret volunteering to own the food category.
Ok so by this time we’re at mid week, I’ve already spent too long trying to troubleshoot procuring the roasted pig for the office, but I’m glad that we have the logistical transportation plan figured out!
Cue Thursday evening 15 mins before I leave to catch my train. I’m summoned to the Food Operations Manager desk. EMERGENCY MEETING! Apparently unbeknownst to us, we were violating food policy with our catering team by bringing in food from an outside uncertified vendor to serve in mass quantities to the office. We were not going to be allowed to have any member of our food staff serve the roasted pig NOR could we use any of our food facilities to serve the food from either (i.e. our cafeteria!). OUR ROASTED PIG DREAMS WERE GOING DOWN IN FLAMES!
Not on my watch my friend, and certainly NOT on CHINESE NEW YEAR TGIF - arguably the best TGIF of the year (sorry Diwali)! We pivoted FAST - changed the venue of our TGIF from the cafeteria to our large auditorium room on a different floor and I called the restaurant to ask they cut/carve the pig for us. Then frantically updated all our posters to reflect the new location. CRISIS AVERTED!
Friday morning arrives: SNOW, SNOW, BLIZZARD. I end up nixing the idea of taking the corporate van and decided to just grab an Uber instead. If the pig was going to be all cut, prepped and packaged for us - shouldn’t be an issue right? I would still just need help carrying everything into the car and back to the building.
Well… we get to the restaurant and the pig isn’t carved yet. So we wait around for 15 mins while he finishes and when I realize he’s done - I realized we had an issue. He had cut up all the pieces of the roasted pig and laid it flat on an open shallow cardboard box that was like 2X3 ft long, and covered it with some wax paper… which had the pig HEAD AND FEET anchoring the paper to hold it down. Yeah, there is NO way an Uber was going to let me transport this into their vehicle.
I politely told the butcher/barbecue man that he could keep the head and feet because we didn’t need it. HE GASPED. He said that’s the best part! I know I know, but there is no way I could bring that into the office without raising issues so he could keep it for himself. He shook his head in disbelief but still removed it. And then he didn’t have tin foil to wrap the entire box so he just covered it up with two CLEAR plastic bags. Then I called an Uber XL and prayed. PRAYED HARD.
At this point my coworker and I are carrying this 25lb pig all cut up in a 2x3 ft shallow cardboard box - and STRUGGLING to walk around the corner outside because it’s snowing like crazy and the sidewalk is icy as hell. Finally the Uber XL arrives and we put our “covered up box” in the trunk.
Up until this point - you’re probably thinking wow, Katy you’ve exerted a lot of time and energy into trying to acquire and transport a roasted pig to your office. Isn’t this ENTIRE roasted pig story what’s weird and random about your week? No. No it’s not.
This is where in my opinion, things get REALLY RANDOM.
The Uber XL driver picks us up, graciously and no questions asked lets us store our mysterious package into our trunk, and on our way we go! Now on a normal day from China town to our office downtown - it probably wouldn’t take no more than 10 mins to drive. But because Dundas West is a disaster with construction AND that day it was snowing like crazy, the drive took twice the amount of time. And boy am I glad it did!
This is what goes down in the course of a 20 minute drive:
I saw the Uber nav indicate that the driver should take a right somewhere but he drove past it. I wasn’t sure if that was by accident or not so I pointed it out to him. He tells me he knows a BETTER way because he’s been driving in this city since he was 16… and he’s 58 now, so he knows the ins and outs of all the streets in downtown like the back of his hand. Then he quizzed me on how long he has been driving for to which I panic because the pressure of quick mental math gives me anxiety. Thank god my coworker was beside me proclaiming, “Wow! 42 years!” whew.
Then the driver proceeds to tell us that this is his part time job, and his other job is working at “Royal Dutch Shell.” I was all, “oh what’s that? Sounds exotic!” And he exclaims, “You don’t know Royal Dutch Shell? Shell? The gas company Shell?!” And I was like, “OH ok Shell yes I know THAT company but I didn’t realize it was called Royal Dutch Shell as it’s full name.” And I still questioned the validity of this as I responded to him, because maybe he was a total liar, but a quick google search confirmed that was indeed the full company name of Shell. HUH!
Then this driver starts talking about his life, how he moved to Toronto when he was a kid, how he speaks Dutch fluently because he grew up in the Netherlands, and then he started going in on his family. He told me that his nephew who grew up in Toronto was a famous ARTIST. I was thinking in my head, “aww buddy that’s cute you’re so proud of your nephew… but also “famous artist” seems subjective to me, just like how I think Kensington is a “really good artist.”
He then makes me guess who his nephew is. I had no clue and for some reason when he kept saying artist I kept thinking like a painter or visual artist… and as someone who isn’t super cultured about the fine arts I was stumped. And then I guess finally me taking so long to answer and combined with us waiting at a red light, he finally gives up on me, opens his photo album app on his phone and starts searching through and showing me some pictures.
He points to one picture and said, “That’s at a family picnic last year and THAT is my nephew!” and then zooms in on a person.
“YOUR NEPHEW IS THE WEEKND?!”
“YES!” he shouts, “That’s my nephew!”
Me: “HOLD UP! WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE’S YOUR NEPHEW?!”
Him: “His dad is my brother… so he is my nephew.”
Ok fine that makes perfect sense. And then I start GRILLING INTO HIM. By this time we’re half way to our office so I knew I didn’t have a lot of time. I asked him if he was still dating Bella - “no,” he said, “they’re just friends!”
“Fine - then who IS he dating,” I asked.
He told me he’s seeing a new girl, her name is Jennifer. I was like there’s a MILLION famous Jennifers! Jennifer Lawrence? Jennifer Lopez? Jennifer Garner? The list goes on and on. He said, “No, it’s Jennifer Anniston who use to be on Friends.” I was floored. I did not see that coming.
He told me that Abel, which is what he kept referring to the Weeknd as (and a quick google search confirmed that indeed is his real birth name) has been tremendously supportive of his whole family. Abel paid for his home in high park, and has paid for the education of all the kids in the family. He also donated a ton of money to University of Toronto for a special scholarship related to Ethiopian Studies and preserving the language.
Again, I was floored. I didn’t really know any of these things about the Weeknd, or “Abel” as he kept saying. I was thinking wow, this is deep. Abel really cares about taking care of his family and his ancestry. He’s not just about models and coke as his songs presumably suggest.
Anyways just as his car is starting to pull up to drop my coworker and I off, he told me that Abel was going to be in town next week because it’s his birthday and he likes to celebrate it with his family so he will probably see him then. Just as I was going to work up the courage to ask my good Royal Dutch Shell friend for an invitation to his family gathering, my coworker hops out of the car and makes his way to the trunk and I realized I had to hustle to hurry to help him take the roasted pig out of the trunk.
After we successfully delivered the roasted pig to the office, I go back to my desk and start to fact check all the things that our Uber driver revealed about the Weeknd.
Born on Feb 16th (note this car ride happened on Feb 5th) so indeed, his reference to the Weeknd being in town next week for his birthday was true.
His first name is Abel
He is of Ethiopian descent, and he did recently donate $50k towards a scholarship related to helping teach Ethiopian history and language.
He has been linked to Jennifer Anniston! (whether it’s real or not there is some evidence that suggests they were seen together)
Anyways, this VERY long silly story was to highlight that 1) I had a strange complicated week with a lot of energy trying to figure out how to deliver a roasted pig to our office and 2) I was driven in an Uber by The Weeknd’s uncle.
And yes, of COURSE I gave the driver a very good Uber rating.