If you’ve ever used America Online and you’re still with us, god bless, you’ll recognize Elwood Edwards’ voice. During the 1990s, it was Edwards who bid you a “Welcome” in from the howling winds of your modem connecting—his mutedly enthusiastic, oddly clipped “You’ve got mail” the sound of your existence being validated, his chipper “File’s done” the cue to awaken from your six-hour slumber and bask in the glory of the photo you downloaded. You might have assumed that Edwards had since retired to live out his glory days in the Internet Museum, cybersexing Ask Jeeves. But it turns out that, just like your old AOL account, Edwards is still out there picking up seedy strangers. Only this time he’s doing it as an Uber driver in Ohio.
Edwards’ new role of ferrying people across the Information Superhighway that is the street was first noted on Twitter by former Facebook PR head Brandee Barker, who tells The Verge that—during the long chat about each other’s lives everyone is required to have with their Uber driver—Edwards “offered up that I may recognize his voice.” Naturally, Barker whipped out her phone and demanded her driver put on a little show, urging him to speak the famous lines that will instantly transport you, all the way back to the last time you used your grandma’s computer.
As CNN’s Great Big Story recounted in a recent profile, Edwards was a broadcaster whose wife, a customer service rep at America Online, recommended he become the voice that would welcome so many to their first brush with the World Wide Web and the horrors of unfiltered, anonymous interaction. Edwards received just $200 for the gig, but he became indelibly intertwined with those early days of internet (not to mention, for a certain generation, a Pavlovian connection to masturbating). His famous phrase was also sort-of immortalized by the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan rom-com You’ve Got Mail, a movie that now spends its own retirement years greeting customers at Wal-Mart.
And now Edwards is trapped within a different little box at the behest of a tech giant, able to be summoned at the push of a button and after three to four minutes of hang-time.