UBER DRIVERS OF NASHVILLE x MATT

UBER PORTRAITS, PERSONALMegan ShipleyComment

If you've never spent time in Nashville, there are a few things you need to know. Yes, there is great music literally everywhere. Yes the places to eat + drink + caffeinate are endless. Yes, you might cry on your morning commute because this city is so beautiful. But what you really need to know, what continues to amaze me daily, is the quality of people in this city. Being from Texas, I thought I understood southern hospitality. And I did. To a certain extent. But the people of Nashville are on a different level y'all. Cashiers, handy men, baristas, hairdressers, strangers on the street, neighbors, vets, co-workers, and Uber drivers-- this city is home to some of the most engaging people I've ever met. Everyone's got a story to tell, 15 or so recommendations to give, and an authentic interest in your story as well. It's incredible. And some of my favorite stories I've heard have occurred while in the passenger seat of an Uber car. 

My first Uber ride here was interesting, to say the least. I had only been in the city for a week or so and needed to catch a ride to the airport in the wee hours of the morn for a flight back to Texas for a wedding I was shooting. After asking around, Uber seemed like my best option. Cool. So 5 am, I request myself a ride and am informed that prices are surging. This meant pretty much nothing to me because Uber noob, and also hadn't had coffee so brain was functioning at maybe 60%. Five minutes later, my Uber driver arrives. Let's call her Ms. Surge. Girlfran is ecstatic about the surge. Can't stop talking about it the whole way to the airport. I awkwardly nod and chuckle for most of the ride, all the while having this ever increasing, sinking feeling that I totally should have drove myself.  We arrive at the airport, Ms. Surge gets my luggage out of the trunk and then proceeds to show me alllll the red on her Uber app, and again she is just giddy with excitement about the morning ahead of her. More awkward smiling and chuckling. Somewhere in there I got talked into tipping as well? Fast forward through TSA and finding my terminal, I sit down to figure out exactly what just happened. I open my app and YALL- 60 bucks for a 5 mile ride. Bless. 

Needless to say, I was so hesitant to partake in Uber again but alas I get back from the wedding and have a work conference the next morning at Vandy, where parking is apparently a nightmare so here we go, round 2. This time though I'm splitting the ride with V and our friend Liz. It can't be that bad right? Oh yall, SWEET REDEMPTION. A man with kind eyes and a realll cute smile rolls up at 7 am. We'll call him Mr. Wingdings. (A solid 5 minutes of our ride was spent reminiscing over the glory days of wingdings + aim profiles. be still my preteen heart. ah nostalgia). This drive was night and day different yall. Laughed the entirety of the ride, made note of a few quality recs, and overall was left wishing our destination was further. My faith in Uber had been restored. Our driver for our ride home that day, Mr. Rock-the-Desert, played in a band whose tour had a stop in Abilene, so we bonded over the beauty + our appreciation of the Paramount theater. Additionally, I left my water bottle in his car, he noticed and swung back by to return it. Hospitality + chivalry is real yall. 

A week later, I needed to catch another flight for another wedding back home in Texas. Prices weren't surging- thank God- and the whole ride consisted of sweet, elderly Mr. Venezuela giving me his wisdom on singleness, doing your job for a paycheck vs. serving people, love vs. attraction, and loving his wife through menopause. All in very broken English. May sound weird, but it was actually the sweetest conversation! Sitting in the terminal, I couldn't stop thinking "I love this city + these people! They have the best stories to tell and I want more people to hear them!". So I decided to start a photo series (: The portraits are quick, as we're often being dropped off in a no parking zone, but also much less awkward than you might think? I'm three deep in portraits so far, and I've yet to have someone look at me like a crazy person. So that's promising. 

That intro was honestly 5x longer than I originally planned. But kudos for making it through yall. And now it's my pleasure to introduce you to Matt! 

Matt drove us to our first Live on the Green experience. He's an accountant downtown and specializes in sticking-it-to-the-man. That particular day at work he finished coloring a masterpiece for a coworker (he invested in the 20 color crayon pack, so masterpiece is not an exaggeration. lots of excitement about being able to choose between violet + red violet), hung a garland of rubber ducks from his ceiling tiles (because why not?), and took multiple walk breaks in order to enjoy the cool break in the heat + humidity. Other fun facts about Matt include but are not limited to:

- He owns a powder blue snowflake suit from Macy's (a real investment yall. properly commemorated via a lifesize portrait in his office). Was it a couple hundred dollars? Yes. Has he worn it more than once? I don't think so. Does he have any regrets? Absolutely not.

- He's potentially, maybe, could be an aspiring barber. Mostly he just likes the idea of being able to have face tattoos and it be socially acceptable for work. 

- He's big on the importance + accuracy of job titles. When I told him we were speech therapists, he corrected me, responding with "No, you're Speech Language Pathologists' ". 

Thanks Matt. For the laughs, for making our ride more than just getting us from Point A to Point B, and for being so enthusiastic when I stumbled through asking you if I could take your picture. That response gave me the confidence to follow through with this little project. You keep doing you Matt, and don't let corporate get ya down.