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October 22, 2021

Dead Uber Driver

Steve Norris

I could tell the man was dead by the way he slumped over the center console, drooling onto the passenger seat. His skin was mottled and his chest was still, no breaths to be had. Soft jazz played on the car stereo.

Still, it felt rude not to get in—he had come all this way.

As soon as I closed the door, the car began to move again. I watched the man as he slid forward and backward with each bump and turn in the road. I wondered how to report this, if the Uber app had a way of saying, yes, my driver is dead.

Even without a driver, the car drove well. It waited patiently at stop lights and when the lights turned green, it didn’t gun through the intersection but instead waited a beat just in case any red-light-runners attempted to turn the scene into a blood bath.

I tried again to start a conversation with either the man or the car. “Is this your usual route?” I asked. I always talk to the driver. Bad habit.

The man continued to flop forward as the car decelerated off the exit ramp but the front screen of the car flashed a smiling face, seemingly in response. I smiled myself.

The car pulled up in front of the movie theater I had requested. I sat there for a minute, wondering what to do.

“Thank you,” I said, and the smiling face came back on the screen and appeared to nod. I exited the vehicle and watched it pull away.

My phone prickled with a notification. Rate your ride.

I tapped the fifth star. Unorthodox but great, I typed in the comment box.