Finding himself suddenly unemployed, Omar anguished over supporting his family – not just his wife and kids but his parents in Somalia. One would think having a biomedical engineering degree would open many doors for him but the job search proved more difficult than Omar imagined. His wife Waris was trained as a midwife and she was willing to go back to work but Omar was too proud to allow her to be the only breadwinner in the family. He would find work if it was the last thing he did. Waris encouraged him to look outside his comfort zone; it was then that he saw the ad in Craig’s List:
Drive With Uber – Be Your Own Boss.
For information call 888-555-BOSS
Omar called the number; a man with a strange accent anwered. “UberBoss” was all he said.
“Um, yes” replied Omar haltingly. “I’m calling about the ad.”
“Email your phone number and driver’s license to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be in touch.”
“That’s it? Don’t I need to take a test or something?” Omar asked.
“Look, buddy. You want the job or do you want to play 20 questions?” the man replied sarcastically.
“Yes, I’m interested, but what is the pay, please?” inquired Omar.
The man sighed impatiently. “$25 an hour; UberBoss gets 20% commission plus 25% booking fee.”
Omar was stunned. “That seems a bit exorbitant!”
“That’s the going rate, buddy. Work six days, clear $100. Take it or leave it” was the gruff response.
Considering he currently had no income, Omar accepted.
“Ok, buddy. Someone will call you.” Click. Within the hour Omar received his first assignment.
+ + + + + + + +
A woman was waiting for Omar; she wore a burka and only her eyes were visible. She signaled Omar to roll down the window, handed him a thick envelope and quickly walked away without saying a word. Taped to the envelope was a key and instructions which read: “100 Hester Street, Locker #57. Unlock padlock, remove backpack, leave envelope and key, snap padlock shut.”
The destination was a YMCA. Upon entering the building Omar spotted a hallway with a row of lockers. He found #57, opened the padlock, removed the backpack, placed the envelope and key inside the locker and snapped the lock shut. The pack had a tag with an address, locker number and key attached; this had to be his next destination. It turned out to be a bus depot and the locker contained a thick envelope just like the one the woman had given him earlier. Omar determined he had to remove the envelope and replace it with the backpack from the previous locker. He tossed in the key and secured the lock.
This routine continued for six hours at which point Omar received a text from UberBoss requesting his PayPal address. He was advised that his work was finished for the day and he would get a new assignment in the morning. Omar complied and shortly after he received another text, this time from PayPal informing him that $100 had been deposited in his account.
The days were tiring and monotonous. Omar’s ass was sore from driving all around town and he didn’t speak to a single person all day. Being an uber driver was not what he thought it would be; he was just some tool in a game of hide and seek. But he’d been at it for three weeks and had accumulated $2100 in his PayPal account – more money than he had in a long time.
Omar was getting very curious about the contents of the envelopes and backpacks but they were tightly sealed – except for today. Noticing a small tear in the envelope, Omar used his pocket knife to finesse the opening just a bit. Peeking inside he saw stacks of neatly bound $100 bills and the hooded eyes of Benjamin Franklin staring back at him.
Omar considered his next move for about five seconds. He drove to the address on the envelope, ripped off the key and shoved the envelope under the front seat of his car. Driving to his destination he located the locker, grabbed the backpack and snapped the lock. Whatever was in these packs had to be very valuable.
As he sped home Omar knew he was taking a huge risk but it was worth it for Waris and his family. He laughed excitedly at the prospect of financial freedom and the more he laughed the faster he drove. The sound of screaming sirens brought Omar back to reality; a police car was chasing him. He was forced off the road and commanded to step out of the car. While looking through the car the police found the envelope full of money. They also found a backpack crammed with bricks of cocaine.
Omar’s world came crashing down around him and he desperately proclaimed his innocence, to no avail. He was handcuffed and hauled away on the spot. Omar never saw the text that came from UberBoss: “Big mistake, Buddy! Say bye bye.”
At the same moment back at Omar’s house a frantic Waris was tearfully staring down the barrel of the UberBoss’s gun.
NAR © 2020