It’s been a while since I posted here, but I am still living and enjoying life. My first two stories brought me back to my youth…one story of when I was a cub scout and one was of making mistakes as a baseball umpire. Both stories took place in my “formative years”. Today’s story took place recently, like, this year.
One of the norms of growing old is living with a deteriorating body. In the last ten months I have had both spinal surgery and hip replacement surgery. Walking great distances is still painful, so I have resorted to work that doesn’t require me to stand up or walk much….welcome to the “professional ridesharing world” of Uber and Lyft driving….some people do not like driving at all…I am not one of those people. I love driving, always have. Maybe it goes back to my Detroit roots where cars really mattered in life. I remember my dad driving straight through from Detroit to Tampa as a child as we would visit Grandma Stella on spring break in junior high school.
I love meeting new people, love to drive, and love listening to music. I also love to tell stories and my Uber/Lyft passengers are perfect captive audiences!!! Now, I will admit that there isn’t a good story that I do not love to tell, often! My step-daughter, Julie, when she heard I was going to beginning my career as an Uber/Lyft driver, gave me some advice (she knows me quite well)…she said, “You know Joe, not everybody likes to talk, and certainly not everybody likes to hear YOU talk!”…In other words, don’t bore your passengers with your stories!….I replied, “I know that Julie, but I have a perfect schtick. When a passenger approaches the car I first address them by name to ensure that they are getting in the correct car. Then, once they get in the car I ask them if they are late or in a hurry. They usually are very appreciative of that question. Regardless of if they are in a hurry or not, I tell them “Good, because I am a really nice guy, but if you are late I will only be nice to you!”…that makes them chuckle and then I ask them if the temperature in the car is comfortable for them and to please tell me if they want it cooler or warmer. Finally, I ask them if they have a music preference and let them know that I have siriusxm radio. If they are not talking to me after those quick 4 questions, we aren’t talking” (FACT: I have provided over 1100 Uber/Lyft rides and I estimate the 95% + of my passengers ae lively talkers (which certainly doesn’t hurt my tip income).
So, the money is not the main reason that I drive for Uber/Lyft. I mentioned earlier that I love driving, people, and music. The first love is people, and the variety of people that I get to befriend is astonishing. I’ll talk about some of those people (without jeopardizing their identies) in future posts, but I want to tell you briefly about two passengers of very diverse backgrounds just to demonstrate why I love being a rideshare driver.
The first story is about a man and his wife that I picked up at their home one late afternoon who were dressed to the nines. Tuxedo and formal dress. They were headed to the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia from a very nice suburban home on a trip of about 45 minutes. After my normal four questions, we were talking. After about 15 minutes of small talk, the gentlemen mentioned that he was receiving an award that night and that he needed to practice his acceptance speech. I immediately turned the music off and stayed quiet as he read aloud. After he completed reading the speech, I asked if he minded if I made a recommendation. He was happy to listen and I made my rewording recommendation. He liked my recommendation and modified his talk. Actually, we did that several times as he continued to modify his acceptance speech. By the end of the ride, he thanked me and said he never expected such professional guidance from his Lyft driver. He rewarded me with a very handsome tip. But for me, I just loved the interaction and the feeling that I had helped somebody.
The next passenger was one of much less means. I was in Wilmington Delaware and picked up a young lady who had a 1 year old baby in a stroller. When I arrived at the Walmart to pick her up, she looked frazzled, she looked pressured. I opened the door for her and her baby and she thanked me. Immediately after we began the ride, and before I could give her the final 3 of my questions her phone rang. It was a male voice giving her grief for taking Uber and she yelled back that the bus never showed up and that she had no choice. She hung up on the man and then told me that she was indeed in a hurry. Her destination was listed as “Money till Payday”. The situation certainly told me that she was not a person of means. When we arrived at the address of “Money till Payday” we only found a bus dispatch location, no business anywhere looking like what she had expected. She began to panic in the back seat.
I turned the engine off and told her not to worry. I told her that I was going to take care of her. I told her to take her time, make some phone calls, come up with a plan that worked for her, and that I would take her anywhere she needed, for free. I saw her shoulders drop with relief and she thanked me profusely. It took almost ten minutes for her to come up with a plan, but I took her several miles to her new drop off location, jumped out of the car, and opened the door for her. She said to me, “Sir, thank you and God Bless You and your family, you have no idea how you much you have helped me and you just made my day”. She pushed her child in her stroller with a proud confident walk. I felt rewarded to have been a part of her day.
I have been blessed in life and no amount of income can replace the great feeling of helping someone in need whether they are rich or poor, we are all human and deserve to be respected and loved. Thanks for reading…ttyl! .