The title of this blog describes my staples for Sunday driving rideshare in New York City. We try to attend the weekly 10:15 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, be it in person or live streaming, sitting in front of my MacBook Pro. Scripture after Scripture, Homily after Homily tells us that life is a test. Its a test on whether we are worthy to achieve glory in Heaven, based on our deeds, or doomed to spending 1,000 years in a coffin, waiting on the judgment of the dead.
I'm now registered to drive Uber, Lyft, Gett and Via rideshare services. I like Lyft the best: Good to drivers and good to riders mainly because of and caring about the "employees" and clients.
On March 13, 2016, after Sunday Mass, I was driving rideshare for Uber with my son John riding "shotgun". Picking up a ride at about 3:00 that afternoon, I saw a rider walking toward my car and when she saw my son in the passenger seat, I could see the rage in her eyes. She reported me and my son to Uber and they deactivated my account at about 7:30 that evening with the following message:
This is Leah from Uber support. I'm writing in regarding a trip you made last March 13, 2016 at 3:15pm EST. The pickup location on the trip page was at 227 E 30th St, New York and the destination was at 99 Washington St, New York.
I received a feedback regarding this trip about another person who was with you while you were on a trip with the passenger. Can you please provide more information about what happened on this trip?
Please know that while we look into the reported issue, your account is temporarily on hold. I appreciate your immediate attention to this matter and I’ll look out for your reply.
I replied to them that my son John is disabled and has Autism. He’s extremely kind and well-behaved. I work 6 - 7 days per week driving for Lyft and Uber; therefore I get to spend very little time with my son. I have to hire a baby sitter for a disabled young man who is 17 y.o. and that I can not leave alone at home.
They replied that I signed an agreement prohibiting me from allowing other riders being in my car, even though I'm not an "employee", rather a "private contractor". They reactivated my account 4 days later and I haven't driven for Uber since. By cheating me out of $2,500.00 in November wages and not making a simple concession so I could spend time with my son, while making them 28% percent of my fares, that was their test.
Lev.19:13 You shall not exploit your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your laborer.
Jas. 5:1-6 Warning to the Rich. 1Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. 2Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, 3your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. 4Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. 6You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.
Now driving Lyft exclusively, I posted the following note behind the headrest of the front passenger seat:
John rode with me the past Sunday ... no complaints. That was their test.
Several weeks ago I had a woman rider traveling from Manhattan to Queens. She had a bit of difficulty entering the back seat and let me know that she had prosthetic leg. She was headed to her health club. Before getting to the Queens - Midtown Tunnel, as many times you do, we encountered the homeless at an intersection. It was an African-American man who was confined to a wheelchair and was missing a portion of his right leg, below the knee. I commented that I tried to keep single dollars in my wallet at all times to help homeless people, and I felt guilty that I had run out of money that day. Her response was that he too could get prosthesis and his reluctance to do so was just to obtain sympathy. She went on that when she encountered the homeless, particularly in the subway, that she would help them financially, but not before they would perform a little song or a little dance for her. It had nothing to do with ethnicity, since she too was African-American. I kept my mouth shut but wondered how can you humiliate someone who is so destitute and probably suffers from mental illness. She took the last "sand grain" of dignity from these homeless people to satisfy her own little "twisted" Off-Broadway play. That was her test.
Lev.19:14 You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God. I am the LORD.
Wis.2:10-11 10Let us oppress the righteous poor; let us neither spare the widow nor revere the aged for hair grown white with time. 11But let our strength be our norm of righteousness; for weakness proves itself useless.
Yesterday, I had an elderly Romanian man accompanied by his wife, and I believe, his 2 young-adult grandchildren. In broken English, the fellow brought up the subject of Warren Buffet and how he came from very limited means to be a multibillionaire ... what we know as a "self-made man". I commented that Mr. Buffet, along with Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires were participating in the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Further, there was also the Robinwood Foundation, who's single objective is to end poverty in New York City, and does a great job (God's work) to help the needy. Seth Myers, as emcee of one their fund-raising events, referred to their members as "the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent". My never-changing commentary is that no one should suffer from poverty with all of the money in this world. The elderly Romanian's generalized reply: When the homeless are given the opportunity to work (he used the example of mowing grass) they refuse. My response was that many of homeless suffer from mental illness and lack of education. Even if they could muster up the motivation and physical strength of pushing a lawnmower, chances are they wouldn't know how it worked and would be a hazard to themselves.
I told him that I have a form of mental illness known as Depression and that it can diminish a person's ability for self-motivation and self-help, yet God chose me to have it. With medication and prayer, I do a pretty good job controlling it and at least I can still drive a car and push a lawnmower. I'm blessed.
So where are the likes of Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey (Trumps favorite vice-president candidate) in all of this "God's-work" billionaire philanthropy? Nowhere to be found. This is their test.
1John3:17 If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?
1Tim6:17-19 Right Use of Wealth. 17Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. 18Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, 19thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.
We Catholics are still in the Easter season. Last Sunday, John and I attended the 5th Sunday of Easter service. I don't know if it was self-pity or anger but I began asking how a "just God" could put me through difficulties of the past 13 years:
Leaving a job I loved after 12 years, because I stood up for righteousness. Then having to endure the torment that followed because I dared to question the billionaire that I caught breaking the law.
Major depression and a failed suicide attempt.
Losing 2 marriages. The first was "my-bad", the second was her's.
Losing 2 loving parents to a murder-suicide, 2 days after my 47th birthday. No one knows why. I can only speculate.
A string of short term engineering jobs in the fossil fuel business sectors, ending in a layoff in 2009, when the price of oil plummeted. In hindsight, that was a blessing. I spent 25 years building the "beasts" which are killing our planet. I'll spend the rest of my life righting my wrong.
Becoming the primary custodial parent of an autistic son who can't take care of himself and greatly limits my ability to get a well-paying job. That was a bigger blessing. I've been humbled. I have faith in God that He won't forsake me. And my son is my hero.
I knew better than to question the Lord and now I'm sorry that I did. It's all His grand plan. If He thought I couldn't carry those Crosses, He wouldn't pile them on my back.
From the Gospel According to St. John, when Jesus and the Apostles passed a man born blind the Apostles asked "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" Jesus said neither, "it is so the works of God might be seen through him". Jesus then healed the man's sight. Has the Lord made me suffer as an example of endurance? So I will reach out to God?
What awaits me? ... My reward? After 7 years of celibacy and no relationships, the love of a simple, witty, beautiful, humble and wise-beyond-her-years woman who I know is out there, but I've yet to meet? Someone who accepts me, my children and the Crosses I bear. I've had my heart broken twice by Jennifer's, so maybe 3's the charm on first names. After meeting and falling in love, then devoting much of our lives to saving the planet that God gave us, and helping those who need it most. Our reward? Hopefully eternal life in Heaven.
As St. Paul said in the block of Scripture known as "All Things to All" 1Cor9:19-27 19 Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win over those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became like one outside the law—though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ—to win over those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. 23All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. 24 Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. 25Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. 26Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. 27No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
It's my test. Pray that I pass it.
Author G.R. Miller, utilizing his engineering and project management experiences in the fossil fuels energy sectors and guidance from God, takes a pragmatic approach of part preterism, part symbolism and part literalism in decoding the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He exhibits a Climate Change connection through scripture, commentary and illustrations.