DROPPED OFF

Tales of a West Palm Beach
Uber Driver

The 30-ish couple from the Chicago area was staying at a swanky Palm Beach hotel for a conference.

They were headed to Restoration Hardware’s restaurant for dinner because they wanted to see downtown WPB, plus “…a $25 burger at hotel… uh, no,” the man said.

It’s sweltering tonight, despite the sunset, but the heat doesn’t bother them. “Believe it or not, it’s worse at home. At least you have the ocean breezes.”

Even those are hot, I say, explaining how the water temp affects the hurricanes they asked about.

“You guys have had an easy summer with no hurricanes, right?”

Yes, I say – but it’s not over yet. Late summer and fall we have to keep a sharp eye on the Atlantic and Caribbean as storms spin like tops off Africa’s coast.

Crossing the middle bridge, they were awed by downtown. Especially the woman — she had spent a few years in West Palm Beach as a girl.

“It’s changed so much. I don’t recognize it anymore.” She mentioned the long-gone Burdines and the man noted all the cranes in the area. “It’s like a real city now,” she said. “It must be exciting to see all the changes.”

I heard her tell her mate that CityPlace wasn’t there when she was last here. “It was all rundown neighborhoods, I remember.”

Traffic was at a standstill as Brightline rolled past. It’s the new high-speed train that will connect Miami to Orlando eventually, I explained. Still too new to have many passengers; they noted the empty cars.

“This has really become a big city,” she said.

“I could live here,” he said.

And give up all that snow?

“I wouldn’t miss it even a little.”

We had to wait again in a line circling around to approach Restoration Hardware.

“This is amazing!” she said.

It’s new, too, I said. Part of a group of special RH’s with restaurants and bars. I told her they brought in Matthew McConaughey and threw an all-swells party of parties for the grand opening.

She was awed again.

I said, “Yeah, that’s how we do it now in the big city.”

We all laughed as they said goodbye.

They left a note on my app: “Great tour guide! Hope we get you again!”

And they did.

He left his phone in the backseat and I had to swing around after dropping off another passenger to return it.

— JN

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