The Life Cycle of an UB3R Driver Part 9: The Tenth Sin

When I walked into the restaurant, Queen was sitting near the entrance. She had on a large orange jacket, black shirt, and yellow-blue plaid pants. Her hair was braided back, and she wasn’t wearing her signature bright lipstick. There weren’t many people in the restaurant, so we wouldn’t be distracted by any noise.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw

“I’m right on time.” 

“Yeah,” she said like she wasn’t happy to see me.

I didn’t think much of it. I thought she just had a bad night. 

“What’s wrong?” I asked. 

She stood up from her chair, put her hands in her pockets, and stared at the half-empty restaurant. “I think we can pick our table. There’s plenty.” 

I knew something was wrong, so I just asked, “What’s going on?”

“Nothing, King, let’s eat.” 

We walked over to a table and ordered our food. She wasn’t talking much, but I was thinking of a way to break the ice. I was rummaging through a million jokes in my head, but I couldn’t think of one to cheer her up. I considered a bad dad joke about mayonnaise and the 5th of May, but after looking into her eyes. I kept that one in the jar. 

Photo by Ala

Our food came. She got the vegan omelette. I had a stack of pancakes and a side of fruit. I believed there was an art to eating pancakes. I figured, I’d share my “art” then maybe the silence would clear the air. I grabbed my knife and fork and looked into her eyes. “Queen,” when she looked back at me, I started. “There is an art to eating pancakes. You start by buttering each layer then adding three lines of syrup to each pancake, any more syrup, is too much and too sweet.” I demonstrated then readied my knife. “Then you slice a perfect triangle out of your pancake and–” 

“If I sign, I have to move to the West Coast.”

I put my fork down. “Is it just for a short while?” 

“It’ll be at least nine months.” 

“You can travel back and forth. It’s not that big of a deal.” 

“I don’t do long distance,” she said to me. 

It’s only been a couple of months, I thought to myself. It would get over it. I would keep 

going like I always did. 

She looked over her food and took a sip of her water. 

“You aren’t going to say anything else?” I asked. 

“There’s nothing else for me to say.” 

“Why are you signing this deal in the first place? I thought you wanted to be independent.” 

Photo by Scott Webb

“I’ve been at this for 5 years, Jay. This deal is a game changer. Every artist that works with this team is on the Billboard charts. I can’t pass this up.”

“Then you won’t be working on your own terms.” 

“I’m fine with that. Everyone can’t be an entrepreneur. I’ll be able to do more with this deal.” 

I wasn’t hungry anymore, but I sliced my entire stack of pancakes into perfect cubes.

“I want you to come with me,” she said.  

I thought about that then said the first thing that popped into my mind, “I’m good right here. I’m not trying to move.”

“Aren’t you looking for more than driving?”

I thought about a few of my aspirations and considered how detached I had grown from my dreams.

Lorenzo Nafissi

“What made you stop going for things? Do you want to be a driver forever?”

For the first time, in a long time, I got really angry, and I said the first thing that popped into my head. “I don’t ask anyone for s— in this world. I take care of myself and that’s what I do. Not everyone has parents to cover bills for them like you. You should appreciate that and stop trying to change other people.” I didn’t want my food anymore, and I didn’t care about figuring out a future with Queen. I got up from the table. 

She reached for my hand, “Jay, I didn’t mean it like that…”

I snatched my hand away and left a stack of cash on the table. “I’m doing alright,” I said, and I walked out of the diner.