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.

The Kids from Thailand

The Kids from Thailand

When you brace yourself for a night of hauling around inebriated college students less than twenty-four hours before kickoff of Tennessee's first home football game and instead find yourself at the Knoxville bus station helping two exchange students from Thailand cram two full-size suitcases into the trunk along with the golf clubs you forgot were in there and two more full-size suitcases into the back seat where the 22-year-old man will sit and pass a phone between he and the 22-year-old woman in the front seat for most of the forty-five-minute ride, which you don't realize is a forty-five-minute ride until you've already crammed the luggage in and swiped "Start Ride" to learn that they're going to Pigeon Forge, to the land of Dollywood, and they tell you in very broken English that the bus driver told them the luggage bay was full and that he would not let them on the bus, that they would have to come back in the morning, and you discern from the phone calls that this is what they're also explaining to parents, maybe, perhaps friends, while you drive them back to the Days Inn where they have been staying, for how long you're not sure, because when you ask them questions they ask you to talk slower (which the folks up yonder never did) and when they answer you can only pick out every second word, to the point that you can't tell where they were prior to Pigeon Forge, or how they came to be in Pigeon Forge, only that they've been working at some type of resort there, and that they're on their way to D.C. and then on to NYC, and that they're quite excited to see the White House and the Empire State Building and the 9/11 Memorial, but that they did enjoy Dollywood, that they went five times and rode the roller coasters, and you detect during the phone calls spoken in Thai that the bus driver was likely an un-nice person and that these two kids didn't know enough English to demand that he let them on the bus, that their ticket allowed two suitcases, and now they must pay for a ride not only back to Pigeon Forge, but back to Knoxville by 10 a.m. tomorrow before the rituals of American football swallow up the city, and you hope for their sakes that this happens, that they're on their way to D.C. tomorrow, and that the story they tell to friends and family once they finally arrive in Thailand is of the kind American who crammed their luggage in and drove them back to the Days Inn, and not of the bus driver who would not let them buy an extra ticket so that their luggage could ride in the seat next to them, well, then you stop on an empty road in the dark and you admire the way the Smoky Mountains silhouette the sky and you listen to the crickets chirp in the quiet of a closed theme park and you take a picture and you hope those two kids from Thailand get home safe.

Go West, Young ... Man? Part 1

Go West, Young ... Man? Part 1

Rollin Back on 1,000 Trips

Rollin Back on 1,000 Trips