I don’t often use taxi service, but when I do, it’s either Uber or Lyft.
[For those hard core friends and fans out there who know I’ve been busting my butt for a car the past 3 months???] 2 days ago, I went a little ways to go check one out, but didn’t have a way to get there, as all my friends were off living their best summer lives [which I completely understand lol] and my father [who is quite a fan of the make of car I was seeking] was working some long hours.
So I took Lyft.
Normally, I use Uber, but the people at Lyft must have really wanted my business in the past year or so because I had all these promotional emails so I thought I’d give it a shot, like it can’t be that different, right?
The guy pulled up on time, happy and smiling when I got in the car.
As we got underway, we opted for the usual small talk [my friend reminded me of the following meme]:
But then we shifted to talking about kids, and work. I told him I was nannying this summer and my driver got lost in his nostalgia, talking about he had grown up playing outside with his friends, climbing trees and chasing animals back home, not with an iPad in front of his face.
We agreed that kids these days are growing up in a different world, that it’s just something we have to combat. And I think that’s when our conversation started to blossom.
I, unlike the above meme, don’t want to make the ride feel uncomfortably tense… I asked my driver if driving was a side gig for him and then he told me about how he was going to school for aviation but absolutely hated it, and wants to be a programmer instead, and drives in the meantime to build up the money for that additional schooling.
“I just didn’t have passion for it anymore. Once you lose that, it’s hard to keep going in the work,” he said. I told him I felt him on a really deep level with that one… that all I wished for was to be happy in my work life… And we agreed that it’s never too late to do that kind of three-point turn away from something you had pursued previously to pursue a completely different path. Sure, it can be expensive, but it’s doable.
“But I like the people,” he continued in that warm, rich Jamaican accent that reminded me of one of my middle school teachers. “I get to drive with people from everywhere, different cultures, different backgrounds, different traditions… and I get to share that with them in the ride. I’ve been able to drive a lot of fascinating people around, and sometimes I’ll ask what they do, and they’ll tell me and sometimes it’s fascinating work, and if I’m interested in it I get to ask them all sorts of questions, so it’s like this great way of networking, too.”
He then told me about his favorite food chains in the area [I hadn’t eaten yet and I’d mentioned how good something from McDonalds or chipotle would be at that moment] and he laughingly told me about his love for hot sauce.
Once I got where I was going, he dropped me off, he waved goodbye, and we wished each other well.
It’s crazy how that works—neither of us will probably ever see each other again.
But I understood then what he meant, about enjoying driving right now because he got to connect with people, if only for a moment, along their path from point A to point B.
“If everybody could have these talks with strangers like this,” he wondered aloud. “Wouldn’t the world be a little better place to live in?”