I was sitting in traffic at the Hedgesville stoplight late one Friday afternoon, passing the time singing oldies that crept, one after the other, into my mind like a chain of secret little souvenirs from a past life. The lyrics frequently escaped me, though, after a few lines so when Memory Road left me at a dead end I’d just improvise ‚ probably the way the songs’ creators did when they composed their odes in the first place.
“Rama Lama ding-dong,” I crooned, a la the Edsels.
“Papa-oom-mow-mow, papa-oom-mow-mow,” I growled in the style of the Trashmen.
“Ooby dooby, ooby dooby, ooby dooby dooby dooby,” I sang in my best Roy Orbison voice — twice, and then again, because that was a good one. But the rest of the words fled.
The stoplight was still red, though, so I ad-libbed: “sooper dooper, pooper scooper, gooper ooper …”
I was getting frustrated as the gas needle neared “E”,,the sun sank and the Dairy Delite neon flickered to life. I was wishing there were another way to get from A to Z, some way that didn’t pluck my nerves so hard. “Goober oober, you’re such a ruber, just call Uber,” I mused.
“Wait a minute,” I said out loud. “Goober Oober!
“Just like the city, but out here in the sticks. Great idea!”
I thought about my nephew in Richmond, who has gotten by without a car for years by using Uber. I had my doubts about him at first, but he saves bundles of money and still pretty much gets wherever he wants to go pretty much whenever he wants to get there.
“If they can do it in the city, why can’t we do it in Hedgesville?” I wondered. Rural areas need a ride service, too, because not everybody out here has a pickup or a Jeep or a camouflage SUV to get around in. And what happens when somebody’s ride ”gets broke down,” as they say, and they really need to make that eye doctor appointment? There are no taxicabs, and the county buses travel only the main highways. We need Goober Oober.
So I printed out a little note from my computer, ran off a couple of dozen copies and went around to the hardware, the Delite, the Git-In Git-Out and the flea market to leave them where folks might see them.
“GOOBER OOBER,” the note said in big letters across the top. “Let us do the driving — you just sit and do the singing.” I listed my phone number and email address, and in little print way at the bottom I added the words, “Please, no calls from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. unless it’s a real honest emergency and you’re real honest stuck.”
Little did I know that it was like I had opened the door to a gold mine.
My first customers were a barbershop trio who were bound for a performance at a model railroad club open house but were stranded by a van with a last-minute flat tire. (They had been a quartet, but one guy was booted because he refused to sing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” ever again.)
They knew all the words to their songs, so that was a real treat. I could more or less fake along with them as they tuned up. A good time was had by all.
Next I had a high school kid, a tuba player in the band, who needed to get to a football game for the halftime show. His parents were out of town and his big sister, a senior, refused to be seen with him in her car.
A few days later I helped a guy — a country music wannabe — trying to get to a talent show at the Legion hall but forsaken by an unpredictable pickup truck and a fickle girlfriend. “Sounds like a song to me,” I said. “I’m stickin’ with drinkin’ and fightin’ stuff,” he scowled, strumming a not-quite-there-yet chord on his guitar. “No, thanks,” I said, when he offered me a sip from his flask. “I’m the designated driver.”
And so it goes. One rescue after another. I’m busier than I ever thought I’d be, thanks to my Goober Oober workload. I’m thinking about finding a truck with a crew cab, in fact. Fitting a trio, a kid with a tuba or a drinkin’, fightin’ geetar guy in my old bench-seat Chevy isn’t easy.