The Uber Ride That Almost Wasn't

Words by Jeremy

“Don’t open the doors”

In an uncomfortably calm tone, as was fitting for his demeanor, our Uber driver stated the definite obvious in what I suppose was his best attempt at reassuring our safety. Never mind we were stopped in the middle of the road after just exiting the highway or blocked in by unknown cars on either side. Never mind the 3-4 passengers coming out from said cars and coming up to ours. Never mind there was someone deflating all the tires or trying to open the doors while we still had absolutely no clue as to what was happening. After a couple of minutes - in what seemed to be suspended animation - we discovered these people to have been Uber drivers on strike, apparently upset that our particular driver was still picking up fares (scab!)

Fortunately, as was told to us by a bystander, the pedestrians who were rubbernecking the incident managed to shoo away the offenders, which then gave us an opportunity to recoup and think about what to do next. After a shoddy attempt at calling our regular driver for Nairobi, who happened to be attending a funeral with many of his other recommended drivers, we sensed it was safe(r) to exit the vehicle and were relieved to discover the actual nearness of our destination - a nice mall with a big playground (and a place to get frozen yogurt).

I don’t know that we were in any immediate danger, no matter how it seemed in the moment, but apparently, the perps weren’t out to harm us but rather vandalize our driver’s car for being on the wrong side of the picket line. In a country where mob justice can often be the only justice, how do you modernize the economy while not compromising generations-old cultural –isms?

I think the “hakuna matata” lifestyle was a little too hakuna for us that day*. We were hoping to have a nice family day, which was clearly stifled from blatant opposition, but I’m so grateful for God’s covering and protection. And for that frozen yogurt.

*This incident took place over a year ago, and we’ve not had a similar encounter since. However, we have decided to refrain from using Uber due to the lack of intervention on not just our situation, but on their apparent lack of interest to adjust operations during the strike. The good news? Uber was willing to refund us the $6 fare we spent on that taxi.