Pretty Uber driver knows where to hit you

Pretty 21 year old drives for Uber

Nine hundred dollars is how much Kabria Johnson’s friend told Johnson she made in one day driving for the ride-sharing service Uber. Out on just her third day on the job, the pretty, twenty-one year old “Uber X “driver says she is not afraid for her safety. She knows where to hit you. And since Uber tracks the time and distance through GPS and charges the customer’s credit card, drivers don’t need to carry cash.

Johnson holds down a job in customer service with U.S. Airways and is in the process of being approved, also, by the competing ride service, Lyft. She is saving up to pay off a loan on her other car, get an apartment and buy furniture. And she’s planning a big cookout for herself and five younger siblings this coming Mother’s day which, sadly, will be their first without their Mom who died last October.

It was a smooth ride in Johnson’s newly acquired 2006 Toyota Prius with over 200,000 miles on it, but seeming in good condition, that she uses exclusively when driving for Uber. She was unfazed when another driver rolled down his window at a stop to point out that one of our tires appeared to be flat. We pulled over into a gas station briefly to get some air. Johnson says she has Triple A service and family all over the city to come to her aid if need be. As for me, her rider, Johnson smiles, if she hadn’t been able to get me to my destination, another Uber driver would likely have been summoned to scoop me up for the final leg of my journey within a matter of minutes.

Watch video interview here.

Moroccan Uber Driver's American Dream

Uber driver from Morocco near perfect

Adil Tijer, an immigrant from Morocco, drives a “black car” for Uber, a service which connects riders with drivers through its mobile apps. On your correspondent’s first trip with Uber, Tijer explained driver licensing, passenger insurance and Uber’s rating system. But for the occasional late night drunk, Tijer’s rating might be a perfect 5-star.  The rating system works both ways. Uber drivers get to rate their riders, too, and drivers can refuse to accept a fare. Watch video ride and interview here.

Tijer worked previously as a medical assistant and pizza deliveryman. He visits friends and family back home every year and describes his country as a democracy, tolerant of different religious practices, where the people love their king. Tijer, now an American citizen, came to the U.S. as one of the quota-set 2500 Moroccans who won the lottery some years ago and hopes to own his own store one day. He lives in Northeast Philadelphia where he says there is a sizable Moroccan community. Watch video interview here.

Car body shop manager talks shop

Your correspondent took his wife’s car to Dr. Ralph’s Automotive Services Center in Roxborough after she discovered one morning that it had been bashed overnight.  While a technician was dusting off the last traces of the repair job, body shop manager John Klimowicz began explaining the business. While high strength steel is still used in car construction, thermoset plastics are becoming more common. To point out the strength of the repair work, Klimowicz relates that the same epoxies used to weld airplane panels are employed for car panel bonding repairs.  If repaired properly, according to manufacturer specifications, “you can hit it with a sledge hammer and it will not break.” As to a future when driverless cars are expected to reduce collisions? “That remains to be seen.” In the meantime, Klimowicz believes there is plenty of work for Dr. Ralph’s and for the other nine or so car repair shops tightly spaced alongside this industrial stretch of Umbria Avenue. Watch video interview here.

Drive out suicide

drive out suicide

Tova Tenenbaum sports a “Drive Out Suicide” bumper sticker on her car’s hatchback door to make it easy for people to notice. The sticker has a crisis telephone number 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and is for anyone in need or anyone who knows someone in need. A referral can be made for mental health services. Military veterans, who are in a separate health system, need only press #1 to get info directly related to them.

Tenenbaum says the hope is to take away the stigma around the issue and prevent suicides. A social worker at the Montgomery County Emergency Service in Norristown, she says that, even without a diagnosable mental health condition, a person going through a very rough time may become suicidal. “The people who are most likely to commit suicide seem to be the least likely to talk about it.”

Visit the Drive Out Suicide blog here,, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Watch video interview here.

Stickers her bumper for science and causes

An artist and her bumper stickers I was driving behind a car with interesting bumper stickers on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill and when it pulled over to park, I pulled over, too, to ask the driver if she might extemporize on her stickers.

Martha Knox was with her four year old daughter, BB, waiting for the post office to open. She was then headed to the UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) Best Friends pre-school where BB is intentionally “reversed mainstreamed” with kids with disabilities.

Knox works professionally as a graphic designer and teacher and identifies strongly as a secular humanist. Her car’s rear bumper graphically and humorously expresses her beliefs. The 2013-2014 “Zombie Hunting Permit,” however, was placed by her husband.

“Honk! If you understand punctuated equilibria” was one sticker that particularly caught my attention. The theory in evolutionary biology, Knox explained, is that genetic changes happen rapidly in “short” periods of time, geologically speaking.

In these four videos, you can also see and hear Knox talk about “Nietzsche is Peachy,” “Evolution happens” both of which she designed, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way,” “Support Net Neutrality”and “Schrödinger’s Cat: Dead and Alive.”

Reverse mainstreams her daughter with disabled students

Peace is the way: don't bomb Syria

Embracing evolution through bumper stickers


Student studies roadkill

Studies road kill

Desmond O’Donovan, a student at the Science Leadership Academy chose to study animal-car collisions for a school project on a local or global issue. Driving along Cresheim Drive earlier with his Dad, he saw a young deer felled on the sidewalk and came back later with his Mom to photograph and examine the mishap. He’s been doing research into the issue and sharing his information with classmates and on blogs. He believes collisions might be reduced by educating drivers to drive more slowly in the Wissahickon where, he says, deer are overabundant and possibly, also, by lowering the speed limit.  For the activity requirement of his project, O'Donovan may try to raise awareness about the problem.

Update from O'Donovan 4/2/13

You might be interested to know that i have decided what i am doing for the project. i'm going to try to get a deer crossing sign posted on Wissahickon Ave and Mount Pleasant.

Continue reading "Student studies roadkill" »

HIs work: sucking up shit

Sucks up shit, his work


Darryl Leonard services portable toilets for Royal Flush Portable Restrooms, a company owned by his uncle. The company does work for special events like regattas on Kelly Drive and for the Phillies and Eagles. Royal Flush provides a  variety of toilet options - stand-alones like this wheelchair accessible one shown on Northwestern Avenue near Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon, flushable ones and trailerfulls. Leonard may vacuum out one to two hundred toilets a day into his truck which holds 1500 gallons and work from 5:30 in the morning to 9 at night. A downside is when he has to come out and clean up after someone has tipped a booth over. Leonard wasn't complaining about the job, however. "It is what it is." Watch video here.

Flips parking authority the bird for boot

Trying to get his car unbooted Flips the bird to show his love for parking authority

A carpenter from Media doing work in Philadelphia fumes when he encounters the parking authority immobilizing his parked car with a big yellow “boot” for unpaid parking tickets.


[I’m] coming out from lunch and I see them right here putting it on and I run over as they’re putting it on and they’re, “Oh, we can’t do anything,” and I say “Are you serious?” They tell me they don’t have a key for it but there’s another guy with a van that has a key for it. I mean it’s just a moneymaking scheme. The PPA isn’t even owned- is not even a part of the police department. It’s its own entity. It just makes me so mad And then I had to be on the phone like forty minutes to get this thing taken care of and I still have to go to work.  I have six million things to do that don’t involve me waiting for someone to take a boot off. And then they say three hours. Then the other guy says they could be here within in an hour and a half to unboot it so it’s just ridiculous.  And now I have to call and see if someone will come and unboot my car. WHAT ABOUT THE TICKETS? My outstanding tickets. I didn’t even know. I knew I had two but I had more than $500 of outstanding tickets. And I can pay that because I work and I am able to pay that. But if you didn’t have a job or your unemployed or in between anything, you just can’t pay that. And then I have to call the homeowner that I’m working at and make sure that I can still come finish the job because she’s on a time schedule. I’m on a schedule.  Like Jesus Christ, it’s upsetting… A little known fact about the PPA is that it’s not even a part of Philadelphia. The money doesn’t go to Philadelphia at all, no aspect of it. It’s a company based out of Maryland-

I THINK IT MUST. SOMETHING MUST COME TO THE CITY. Well, they promised a percentage of it to go to the education system but instead of doing that they took that money and put it into research development, basically creating kiosks, all the stands where we put money in to get a little ticket for it to expire and press pay more tickets.  They developed those kiosks so they couldn’t employ somebody to do it, to go around and check. They could have less meter maids and have less jobs in the city of Philadelphia so that they can make more money. I mean it’s ridiculous. Carpenter James Jenkins of Media, PA by his booted car on Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.