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Spruce to Poplar, 10.23.16

Ride sharing is a wonderful addition to city living. As a cheaper alternative to cabs, a more direct alternative to public transit, and a lazier alternative to riding your bike or walking, Uber and Lyft have changed how we navigate urban centers. Though this alternate form of transit certainly has practical advantages, perhaps its greatest advantage is its least practical one: great moments with strangers.

Sunday, October 23, 2016, 10:24PM: I'm home. But that's not the real story. The real story is how I got here. It begins when I get into the Uber, and the driver cracks an awkward joke, of which I only heard the last part, about picking up strangers. I didn't have time to process, and thus remember, said joke. Because the joke was followed immediately by David, our friendly neighborhood Uber driver, sharing the news that his friend just died of cancer. Apparently god works in mysterious ways, but by the grace of god his friend is dead and it's all because of wishy washy doctors.

"Let's listen to some rock music," David decides as he fiddles with the radio dial. His friend was an odd dude, but now he's dead. None of the music on the radio is sufficient. It's good, but it's not what David wants to hear right now.

"By the grace of god" is the phrase heard most frequently on this trip, rivaled only by the lyrics of his band of choice.

With the scouring of the radio airwaves providing no fruit, David takes my advice to go with a playlist. Instead of iTunes or Spotify, David opts for YouTube as we drive past the museum and I start imagining how pleasant a long walk home would have been.

At this point, David sees a woman waiting to cross the street as we round City Hall. This woman becomes the subject of an elaborate tale in which she darts into the street and David Fun Homes her right out of existence. He goes on to describe how he would attend her funeral to discuss the merits of pedestrian safety to a captive, albeit unwilling, audience. The audience, comprised solely of her grieving mother and uncles, are all clearly intended to have distinct voices. Perhaps unwittingly, David uses the same voice for each new character in his tale.

At this point, David finally finds what he was looking for on YouTube: A playlist of Creed's most inspirational songs. I am serenaded with songs about sacrifice and wide open arms. By the grace of god, of course. Mercifully (or by the grace of god), there is little traffic on the streets of Philly on this evening.

"You have weird streets," David muses, "but congratulations on whatever you're doing." He is, of course, referring to my redesign of the parkway. Grasping at whatever straws of normalcy are available to me, I attempt to make small talk about the parkway, the boulevard, and navigating what is one of the most easily-navigable cities in existence.

Two Creed tunes later, I step out of the car with arms wide open, appreciating my sacrifice, and, by the grace of god, arrive home unscathed.

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Verb. 1) Pertaining to the behavior of being a Wittwer. 2) Doing odd things that only Wittwers would do. 3) Catchall phrase for the thoughts and actions of Patrick Wittwer.

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