5:42 p.m., foot tapping. You smell like cold coffee and the shittiest week of your life. Only 18 minutes until you are blowing a temporary kiss goodbye to the class that probably induced your self-diagnosed vertigo (“leave me alone, I know I have it”). You check your bank account and realize that you—yes, you—are qualified to be tonight’s sugar mama providing the ENYP (emergency New York Pizza). 5:51 p.m., water chug. You start heavy breathing at the thought of you and your squad posing in that dirty mirror. You begin to sweat as you think about the weekend ritual of passing around the communal “They’re Real” mascara. It’s 5:57 p.m., and you don’t even know what class this is anymore.
In less than 10 minutes, you will be homeward bound toward your Boylston bachelorette pad and the girls who make it home. In less than 10 minutes, you will leave behind all the essays you wrote at midnight in the rearview mirror. And, in less than 10 minutes, your pumpkin of a desk chair will magically transform into the golden carriage known as Uber.
Uber has changed the way we weekend. Of course, the hazy T-ride forever exists as a timeless aesthetic I would never disrespect. However, a five-star Friday night Uber trip has reinvented college party culture. Since we go to a school in the city, our college memories aren’t simply made at a party across the quad in the Right Wing Edward Smith Brownstone Building (this is a f-a-k-e college dorm thing I just made up, don’t yell at me). City parties are a commitment. They are work. They are the reason we need Uber in the first place. It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? So buckle your seatbelts, ‘cause its about to get weird.
In order to explain my observations, I have created “The Uber Complex”: a three-step guide that outlines the inevitable journey that ensues when you hit that “request UberX” button. As I drag you deep into the depths of my very normal fixation on a car service, I want to make something clear. I understand that Ubering three times in one night makes you question who you are and everything you have ever known. However, I encourage you to spend the money you don’t have, find the light at the end of the surcharge, convince yourself that you have the strength to set that pickup location, and know that the sexiest thing a person could say on a Friday night is “I’m calling the Uber.”
Phase One: The Girl-Power Hour
The first phase of the night is barely audible over the “I fucking love you’s,” and “Jenny, your heel is in my eye socket—get off the floor.” Girl Power Hour—your “GPH”—is the support group you never knew you needed and a self-esteem booster you have to experience to understand. It is when you and your squad devise a game plan, finish the week-old bottle of Barefoot, reassure the face-glitter decision and Snapchat some of the funniest shit of your entire life. GPH is also when you decide which one of these girls will be your maid of honor. When you get to your destination, listen for the faint sound of the “be safe” in the distance from the kind voice of your fairy godmother, a.k.a. your driver.
Phase Two: The Traveling Salesman
You and the GPH gang have been at the “Tequila Mockingbird” party for the polite 90-minute time frame to which nice people adhere. It was real, it was fun, but we all know it wasn’t real fun. This is when you make the rash decision to steal a briefcase from the host’s dad’s closet, claim the suit coat from the guy dressed as Atticus Finch as your own, and sell your soul to a superior fiesta. Don’t actually steal shit, but the traveling salesman tactic is all about upward mobility. This phase occurs at the time when the booze brings out the bouge. When that UberBlack pulls up, think of it as your round table on wheels. Spend this time getting serious with your GPH (hopefully the gang is still intact). Ask critical questions: Where are we going? Who is going? Why are we going? Wrap this phase up with a firm understanding that this ride is about business, not pleasure, because you know you only have three minutes left to crunch the numbers, rebrand yourself, and figure out how the fuck you’re getting into the next party.
Phase Three: The "Thank You For Saving My Life"
Between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 a.m., time is suspended. As the window of the Uber Complex rolls up one last time, you find yourself confused as to how you are not only still wearing a shirt, but alive, well, and clutching a mini water bottle courtesy of your chauffeur-in-shining-Odyssey. You will never remember his name, and you will never remember his story, but you will never forget how he made you feel.
This piece is dedicated to the drivers who work tirelessly to keep all the Uber-takin’, public-transportation hatin’, bougie Bostonians safe from never waiting more than 10 minutes for an escape route.
Text and photography by Jenny Griffin