Like many other millennials, on-call taxi services like Uber & Lyft have become a critical part of my life, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. The convenience of having my own personal chaperon reach me within minutes of tapping a button is a luxury I have come to enjoy and relish, almost a guilty pleasure of sorts.
But unlike my anticipations, convenience isn’t the only reason I’m such a fan. There’s more to the tale. It wouldn’t be unsafe in my own frame of reference to say that no two rides have been similar. Not because I’ve taken different routes, or in different vehicles, but because of the people I’ve met in them.
Uber drivers. The gig economy, if you’d like to give them a more formal label. People who’ve taken to ferrying around people in spare time, driven by motivations of spare income, primary income and even beyond those one would normally expect. I was fortunate once to be driven by a young medical doctor, who narrated to me a heart wrenching story of how the tragic incident of her younger brother being killed in a case of drunken driving had made it a personal mission for her to drive home people safe, on weekend nights. And the man who said he’d been driving in his spare time secretively without his wife knowing, because he wished to fulfill her dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower, a trip he would’t be able to afford on his regular earnings. And one of the man who hadn’t even finished high school, but dreamt of making his son a space astronaut. And the numerous others I’ve met who do Uber part time on top of a stressful job to put their kids through college. One who was doing to put his wife through med school. And that’s when you hit the emotional chord and realize that these aren’t just tales of making money, these are stories of motivation, and inspiration.
And the other side of the coin, is when you speak of the numerous friendships that have been struck when you opt for to ‘pool’ in with people, Uber’s more budget-friendly option. The people you might not have otherwise met, but are now forced to share legroom with. Conversations randomly struck, which on a few occasions have even led me to exchange numbers, stay in touch and even become eventual friends with my ‘pool partners’. And why not? Isn’t that how so many friendships begin? One conversation. That’s usually all it takes.
Long story short, I’m thankful for these services. Most certainly, for the convenience they bring along. But also, for the variety and the gamut of emotion, and human interaction that I might not have had otherwise. And for the all stories I’ve heard, most of which I’m sure I’m not forgetting in a jiffy.