Uber Memoirs: Meet Moonshine Mike and other Characters

Story by Noah Towbin

This is the first of an ongoing series of encounters with Uber drivers in Gainesville.

Gainesville is a college town at its core. On any given day, a passerby on University can see a myriad of restaurants, a thriving club scene, a herd of college students somehow finding their way to the nearest Krispy Kreme, and countless Ubers ferrying kids from their dorms to the lively city around them. While most UF students focus on getting from point A to B with as little interaction with their driver as possible, I find myself curious to hear the most unique and entertaining experiences that they have amassed during their time in this dynamic city that I now call home. Over this past summer, I decided to write down some of the more interesting stories. I will periodically post updates to this series as I continue to informally interview the Uber drivers in the area.

1. Moonshine Mike

It’s not every day that someone would tell a totally random stranger that they make and sell illicit substances—namely moonshine. It is even rarer for that producer of said illegal products to detail how to best to replicate his work. And yet, that is exactly what Moonshine Mike did for me in one of my first Uber rides of Summer B. As I traveled to my first Gainesville night out, I was enlightened by his explicit descriptions of how the seemingly innocent combination of tomatoes, a 60-pound industrial drum, and yeast come together to make moonshine.

*Note to reader: Do not attempt to replicate this recipe*

2. Electric Emily

My Uber ride with Electric Emily began just like any typical drive in Gainesville does: with an extended conversation about drunk UF students and Tasers (well, maybe not the Tasers but definitely the drunk college students). As I commuted to downtown on a Friday night, Emily told me the absolutely idiotic story of how she once revealed that she keeps a Taser in her car to a group of well-inebriated gentlemen. Being stereotypical young adults, they promptly asked to test out the weapon on each other once they reached their destination. Between spurts of wheezing laughter, Electric Emily described how they sat around electrocuting each other, screaming in pain, slightly convulsing,  and drunkenly giggling.

3. Oblivious Oscar

After spending a long day at work, the average person might find himself decompressing in the comfort of their home, enjoying a quiet meal with loved ones, and collapsing into bed. Unfortunately for Oblivious Oscar, the night in his story was far from a pleasant evening. Following a day and night of driving college kids around Gainesville, Oscar wearily trekked an hour to get home at 4 a.m.; however, a small obstacle stood between him and a restful night’s sleep: a previously unnoticed, hammered young adult. Someone had, in fact, passed out and been left behind in the far back seat of Oscar’s car. The major takeaway of this story is to find a group of friends who would drag you out of the Uber instead of leaving you to be discovered hours later.

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