My 2nd First Step is a blog by LaRue Cook, a former senior editor for ESPN The Magazine. His posts chronicle his new life as a driver for Uber and lyft.

Dating Advice for Courtney

Dating Advice for Courtney

I receive a request from "Courtney," but when I answer the phone, a man's voice tells me that the app has dropped the pin in the wrong location and that "they" are under the bridge in the Old City. I arrive to find the gentleman and two young women standing next to a car. I roll down the window.

"We can't drive her home," the young man says. "She's had a lot to drink."

"Why can't you drive her home?" I ask.

"We've had a lot to drink too."

So Courtney The Accountant stumbles over and slouches into my front seat. "Fun night?" I ask. "Yes," she says.

"What is your name? Frank?"

"No," I say. "My name's LaRue."

"Oh," she says. "Well, LaRue, I drive a Honda Civic, TOO." She pokes me in the arm. "I guess I could be an Uber driver, too, although I'm not sure how [hiccup] one gets to that point."

"How'd you get to this point, if you don't mind me askin?"

"To be an accountant?" she says.

"Sure," I say.

"I love accounting," she says. "Numbers are my friend. What we do would blow your mind! I looked back at an old annual and my friend had signed it, 'Thanks for always letting me look off you in accounting.' I guess it was always meant to be." She laughs and snorts and hiccups. "I'm a good accountant," she says, "but I don't think good accountants go out to concerts and get drunk on Tuesday nights when they have to work at 8 am."

"Every good accountant needs a drunk Tuesday night now and then," I say.

"I've met a lot of people tonight," she says, clapping her hands and then clasping them together. "And now I'm going to meet you: What's your favorite number?"

I grin. "Hadn't thought about this one in awhile—eight," I say.

"What's yours?"

"Twenty," she says. "Would you go sky diving?"

"I would," I say.

"Have you ever been?" she asks.

"No," I say.

"I've been twice," she says.

"You win," I say.

"I do," she says. "What's your favorite war?"

I laugh a genuine laugh from my gut, which is rare for me. "Are there any criteria?" I ask. "Or just my favorite war period?"

"Period," she says.

"Well, the War Between the States was awfully important around these parts," I say.

"Yep, yep," she says.

"But I'll go World War II," I say. "That one seemed to make some sense."

"I got employee of the month," she says.

"Congrats," I say. "So do you get a plaque, or a trophy?"

"I think a plaque," she says. "And maybe a bonus. There was a gnome on my desk today that said, 'You're employee of the month.' I looked around and thought maybe they'd put it on the wrong desk. So I stashed it in a drawer and didn't say anything. Then my best friend texted me and said, 'You're employee of the month! Why didn't you say something?' I told her I thought maybe they put it on the wrong desk, but she said no way they'd put the gnome on the wrong desk. So I'm employee of the month!" She does a fist pump and whispers, "Yessss."

Her phone makes a text-alert noise. She intensely scrolls. "So you just drive people around and stuff?" she asks.

"Well," I say, "I'm sort of in between lives."

"That doesn't make sense," she says.

"Well," I say, "I had a good job in the Northeast and decided it wasn't what I wanted. So I unplugged and moved back. I'm calling it my existential crisis year."

"You're nuts. You have no money?" she asks.

"I saved for seven years," I say.

"Wait," she says, "you saved for seven years! You can travel the world? You could like fly around like Daenerys!" I nod. "You watch Game of Thrones, right?"

"Not really," I say. "What's Daenerys?"

Courtney The Accountant buzzes her lips and snorts through her nostrils. "Not worth explaining."

There is a long enough silence that I cue up Tame Impala for background noise, while she checks her phone.

"So, Uber driver," she says, not looking up. "I'm seeing a boy, and I think I screwed it up."

"Why so?" I ask.

"We are the bomb," she says. "We were actually at that Waffle House the other night." She points as we pass. "That was the bomb. But I was a big dumb dummy tonight."

"What'd you do?" I ask.

"These texts are killing me," she says. "Just. Let. Me. Read. Them. Me: I'm drunk SOS. Him: Why do you need saving LOL. Me: I spilled two drinks all over my hot shirt and I don't like my friends. Him: I wish I was there. I'd come get you, but I have my son tonight." She looks up at me. "Yes, he has a son, so now you know." She looks back down at the phone. "Me: Come get me. Him: I can't, I just told you I would, but I can't tonight. Me: I wish time stopped, you're beautiful, where we going..." She looks up at me. "Oh, God. I'm not liking these." She looks back down at the phone. "Oh, man. Autocorrect. Him: Are you OK? Me: No. Him: Don't drive. Me: I'm a good accountant." She looks up at me. "What. Am. I. Saying? Uber driver, THIS is why I'm single. Forever!"

We're at her gated apartment complex now, and I'm laughing, only because she is slapping her forehead and flailing her arms and chanting, "I'll never have a boyfriend." She recites the code and we pull through the gate and she says, "Uber driver, what do you think? Is it over? What should I say?"

"Sounds like a nice guy who cares whether or not you made it home safe. So text him that you made it home safe and that you're sorry for the drunk texts, but that you just had him on your mind. You wouldn't have texted if he wasn't on your mind. He'll like that."

"Should I tell him how much I care? I'm one of those people that tells how much they care right when they know how much they care. Should I tell him how much I care?"

"How many dates we talkin?"

"Two."

"Let's hold off on that."

She puts up her fist for a fist bump. I oblige. She makes the explosion sound as though our bump has set off a bomb. "You da best, Uber driver. So do you watch Game of Thrones?"

"Not really," I say.

"Lost? Breaking Bad?"

"I loved Breaking Bad," I say.

"Nice," she says. "You watch 'em all?"

"I did," I say.

"So we got somethin in common," she says. "We both know the fate of Walter White."

"Yes, we do," I say. She puts up her fist for a fist bump. I oblige. She makes the explosion sound again. We stare at one another. I end the ride on my phone.

"I'm going to tell Jacob that you liked him," she says. She smiles and nods. I nod. She nods back. "OK, let's go get 'em, Uber driver."

Things About Me You Oughta Know, Part 1

Things About Me You Oughta Know, Part 1

Talkin to the Man in the Rearview

Talkin to the Man in the Rearview