I attend a work conference to sell books the week before Thanksgiving. This year, the plan was that I was going to take the Amtrak down to my parents’ place in Chicago, and I would fly to San Antonio the next day. Since the train leaves at 6:00 a.m., I knew it was going to be an early start for me.

The morning I was supposed to head out, I requested my Uber and tried to consolidate my luggage while I waited. I ended up only sticking my purse in my backpack during the ten minutes before it arrived.

The car, when looking at it from the front, seemed normal enough. It was a black sedan that had recently been to a car wash. But when you walked around the sides, you could see that every window was plastered with sun-faded Dragon Ball Z character stickers.

He was a chattier driver, asking normal questions with some strange responses. I told him I was going to Texas, and he referenced Final Destination. When he asked about my music taste, I told him I liked Maisie Peters, and he told me he liked Doja Cat before “only singing about how hot she is.” The only thing we had in common was that we both liked the Nickelodeon show Victorious. At some point, I took my purse out of my backpack to make sure I had my ID on me, and I laid it next to my backpack on the floor.

A red light stopped us when we got off the highway, and seconds after coming to a stop, a completely naked woman crossed the street in front of us. With absolutely no clothes on, she just carried a twin-sized sheet thrown over her shoulder, providing no warmth or modesty whatsoever.

My driver shouted, “What the f*ck?”

He repeated the phrase while saying that he should probably call the cops. Before I could say anything, he started voicing that he wished he was recording because that would have gone viral. I wasn’t going to burst his bubble with what a violation of privacy that would be, not to mention any video would get taken down for content violations.

We arrived at the station exactly on time, and I hopped out, thanking him for the ride. I counted my bags to make sure I had everything. Backpack, suitcase, carry-on. Good. Looking in the backseat and the floors, I saw nothing, and headed into the train station.

The other passengers and I boarded fifteen minutes before departure, and I settled into my seat. Checking my ticket to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I read that they would be checking our identification with our ticket. I opened my backpack to grab my drivers license, and there was nothing there.

Panicking, I realized that I left my entire purse in the backseat of the Uber. I immediately opened the app and saw the button to say that you lost an item. The app called my driver, who picked up in seconds.

I told him about the situation and asked him how soon he could get back. My phone said there was ten minutes until departure. He said that it would take him ten minutes to drop off his current rider, and it would take another twenty minutes to get to me. I tried to think of this from every angle, every possible solution, to see if there was any way I wouldn’t have to get off. With no good solutions, I realized I had to get off the train.

I grabbed my bags and headed towards the doors, but they were closed and locked. I searched through four cars before I saw, through the emergency exit door, two employees. One of them saw me and walked over.

He looked like Tom Hanks in The Polar Express. He was a white man in his mid-fifties with a perfect white mustache, and he spoke with a slight Southern accent.

I explained what happened, and he said sternly, “This train is leaving in five minutes.”

I said, “I know. I think I need to get off.”

He softened and let me off the train. I went back into the station before one of the janitors said they were closing the building, so I had to wait outside.

Standing alone on a street corner at six in the morning, hugging my coat closer to me, I saw my phone light up. My boyfriend texted me, “Good morning sweetheart!!! I hope everything is going smooth this morning!!”

I almost cried.

Eventually, my driver returns, and I find my purse in his backseat. With his car in the same spot, I see that the space behind his seat is pitch black. Somehow, in the dark before sunrise, it was physically impossible to see my red purse.

After thanking him profusely, I asked if Uber drivers can pick their riders, and if so, if it would be possible for him to give me a ride back to my apartment. He said that there was nothing he could do, but if I handed him cash, he’d take me back. Thinking about how I would definitely cry if I had to wait alone downtown for another twenty minutes, I decided it was worth the only twenty in my wallet, even if my company couldn’t reimburse me for the travel cost.

On the drive back, he played some misogynistic song about cheating on your girlfriend before switching it to anime-intro-screamo-rap. The stereo was so loud that not only my chest was vibrating, but I felt the inside of my ears shake. Through the course of this off-the-books Uber ride, he hit his cotton-candy-flavored vape at least six times, and he explained that he ended up calling the cops on that woman for her own good.

When we finally got to my apartment, I loaded my bags into my car and immediately started driving towards Chicago. I ended up calling my boyfriend and laughing about everything, and I even hummed some Victorious songs on the way.

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