Not in equal parts, mind you… Long story short, I had a couple of fares tonight that were attending weddings in SD, a bunch of folks who were partying (very typical Uber crowd, that), and…
The fare that turned out to be my last of the night, though, was something special. In the Gaslamp District, I pick up a young black man, already quite drunk by the time he ordered the ride, along with a couple of friends. He initially directed me to go to Pacific Beach, but had plenty of time to think about it while we sat in heavier-than-usual Gaslamp traffic (holiday weekend plus the Padres were in town). In the ensuing discussion with his buddies in the back seat (he was sitting in the passenger seat up front), the possibility came up of staying in the area and going to one of the clubs that has a cover charge. Our hero, Karl, asked if one friend would pay the cover for him because Karl covered the cab. When the friend said no, Karl said “Don’t Jew me.” And he kept saying it, in different and increasingly nasty ways (including “You’re so Jewish”), as the conversation continues. After a couple of times, I made some sort of “Seriously, dude?” remark, at which point the guy sitting directly behind me noticed my kippah. He tried to clue Karl in, but our hero was on a roll.
I took this all in with a big smile, totally laughing it off and wondering how long it’d take before Karl realized how far his foot was in his mouth, and it did take him a bit longer, even after the friend in the back told him to look at my head.
He finally did, and I cracked up and said, “There’s no way I’m not getting five stars from you now, no matter WHAT I do… I could punch you in the face and you’d still have to give me five stars.”
The awkwardness finally became too much to bear and they decided to get out and go somewhere local after just a couple of blocks. Karl basically sprinted away from my car, perhaps to try and give his shame the slip.
The thing is, I’m sure Karl is a decent guy. Using “Jew” as a synonym for “stingy” or “cheap” is something he probably grew up hearing, and he never got called on it before. I like to think that the teaching moment I took advantage of will stick. When his friend said, “The driver is Jewish,” I said to Karl, “Doesn’t matter whether I’m Jewish or not, saying that is really nasty.”
Maybe Karl will break the cycle he was born into.