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October 19, 2016

That feeling when you realize your Uber driver is Milton Street

Politics Uber
02-120315_Milton_Carroll.jpg Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Milton Street speaks to reporters on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2015, outside the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

Maureen Garrity, spokeswoman for Philadelphia mayoral candidate Sam Katz's 2003 bid to unseat John Street, needed a lift home from Center City on Monday night, so she got on the Uber app and requested a ride.

Before long, her driver "Tom" showed up outside her office in a white car.

Over the course of the ride to South Jersey, driver and passenger discussed the lovely weather and – as Americans so often do these days – the presidential election.

“We were taking about how crazy [Donald] Trump is, how anybody can say anything, wild accusations everywhere,” Garrity recounted of her conversation with the driver. “Then, I mentioned that, a long time ago, I worked in politics, for Sam Katz, and how crazy things happened during that race, the bug in the mayor’s office. He said, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah.’

“It was only when he pulled up to the driveway that, when I was getting out of the car, he said, ‘I’m John Street’s brother.’”

That’s right. Tom was short for Thomas which represents the T. in T. Milton Street’s name.

Garrity said that when she got in the car, she thought to herself that Tom did look like Milton, but she’d forgotten that suspicion all but instantly. After all, they’d never met before.

“My Uber driver today was T. Milton Street. True story." – Maureen Garrity, former spokeswoman for Sam Katz's mayoral campaign

“We had a nice conversation about what went on inside that campaign,” she said of the realization that had both former spokeswoman and mayoral brother laughing at the end of an Uber ride.

The quirkiness was such that she posted about the encounter on Facebook: “My Uber driver today was T. Milton Street. True story. We had a great conversation about the weather, the presidential election, Philadelphia politics, the FBI bug, where this country is headed.”

And let it be known that, as Milton is prone to do, he started driving for Uber this summer as a way to check out the app’s job-creation capabilities.

“That was funny. I didn’t know who she was. We were just talking about politics, how Donald Trump is 23 cans short of a full case,” Street said of the encounter.

When the conversation turned to local politics, “I said Sam Katz was winning until the votes came out. She couldn’t believe I knew so much about it, so I mentioned that ‘incidentally, I’m John Street’s brother.’ I meet a lot of nice people driving for Uber. When I talk to them about political stuff, some ask how I know so much about it. I just tell them that I read a lot.”

As a part-time Uber driver, Street said he is keenly interested in whether state lawmakers will permanently authorize ridesharing services to operate in Philadelphia. (A vote in the House could come as early as Wednesday.)

He said it’s the “first company to come into the city and offer gainful employment to so many entry-level workers, hundreds of drivers who couldn’t get jobs anywhere else. … If I have a couple free hours, I head out to make a few bucks. There’s no boss. You’re totally free as a bird.”

That legislation – the former state representative and senator said – should’ve been passed a while ago. He said he intends to go to Harrisburg to lobby for that outcome should legislators not act when they get back to work.

“If they don’t do this, poor people will lose their means of income to support their families,” he said. “Our elected officials – Donna Bullock is a lawyer, [my nephew] Sharif Street is a lawyer – they need to put their legal skills to put this legislation together. It’s really, really nauseating. They don’t understand the impact this has on employment.”

So, what did Garrity rate her experience through the Uber app?

"Five stars," she shared. “He was funny and nice."