I never would have guessed that this would have been a takeaway from this little side gig of mine. I went into this with short term plans, not sure that financially it would be worth it overall, that I would like it, and many other reservations. I assumed I’d be dealing with drunk people if I drove late at night. I thought I’d encounter people who were difficult, belligerent, etc.
My personal experience could not have been farther away from what my assumptions were. Isn’t it funny how life is usually like that. This is why trying and doing new things is so important, you need to break through your biases and barriers so you can learn and grow. I am so glad I did, and the reasons are gonna sound familiar if you’ve read some of my other blogs…
Although I consume much less news and social media than I used to, what I do partake in still biases my opinion(s) of the world. If you watch the news, it seems as though half of the population is still at home collecting enhanced unemployment benefits. That you shouldn’t have a conversation with a stranger at all, just in case they have a different opinion than you do. You can’t discuss things like politics or the vaccine or other “highly sensitive topics” with someone you just met. I am going to make this statement LOUD AND CLEAR:
THIS COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH
I have done close to 500 rides in the short time I drove for Lyft, and here were some of things I learned I the process:
Many people are working really hard just to barely get by
Most people are more than happy to engage in conversation in general. Many (not all) are happy to talk about almost any topic whatsoever.
I need to show even more gratitude for my life and the opportunities I have.
I have given rides for people who, for one reason or another like a car accident or lack of money, don’t have a car. They paid $20 to get to work at a job that pays barely over half that per hour. Don’t forget, they probably paid that same amount to get back home at the end of the day too. That means in a ten hour shift at $12.00 and hour, they paid ONE THIRD of their wages that day (pre-tax) just to get to and from work.
This is not my life’s circumstances…and I am very thankful for that. I started to drive for Lyft for a couple of reasons, but none of which was out of absolute necessity. I have been to the worst parts of the city I have called home for almost 40 years, and places I never wanted to go to before. I pick up hard working people who have a family they are trying to provide for, drive them to jobs they are not excited about, and drop them off to start their day. Sometimes I pick them up after a long day, and I can see it in their eyes that they are tired. Not just from that day, but from every day. Things are rough, and I hope they can find a way to improve their circumstances. I have a much better appreciation for this group of people than I ever did before.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have driven home people to $4 million dollar homes in Scottsdale and had almost the same conversations as with the people I mentioned above. Despite living in a huge house and seemingly having lots of money, they are working super hard and long hours and don’t have much leisure time as it would appear. While the money makes some of life’s problems go away, in many cases it is just geography that separates them. Same concerns, same hectic lifestyle, just a difference in wardrobe and the mattress they sleep on.
As far as some of the conversations go, I have talked about the Trump sticker on someone’s water bottle, or the “F…Trump” sticker in some cases. I have had long conversations about conspiracy theories and the vaccine and COVID and how the past year and a half has been handled. The only way I can gain a different perspective and learn something from someone else is to ask, listen and discuss. I have always tried to do that, and I hope that we as a country can get back to the point of more civil discourse. We need to…
BUT…one of my other take-aways that I want to be sure to communicate is the fact that in those 500 rides, I talked with EVERYONE, about ALMOST ANYTHING. And yes, I still have a 5 star rating as a driver. The world is NOT as divided as the news media and social media make it seem. Remember, this is small minority of the population that has a platform to make a lot of noise with. I still have a bunch of friends who have never downloaded Twitter or other apps, and don’t watch the news. I have a sizeable chunk of friends who used to, and deleted everything. But those of us who do still indulge are bombarded with the opinions of others, and the subsequent responses from both sides of the argument. It seems there is an endless supply of things that we can disagree on, and the Twitter muscles get flexed far too often. This is why conversations are so important.
As I have said before, watch The Social Dilemma documentary. It is powerful and hopefully a wake up call for many. The Big Tech companies use artificial intelligence to enhance how much time the users spend on their platforms. This increases advertising revenue, plain and simple. It (unfortunately) appears that the best way to keep people engaged is to have them arguing back and forth with one another. That is unfortunate for several reasons, but we certainly are susceptible to it. Clearly it works, as Facebook, InstaGram, Twitter and many other social media platforms are valued in the billions of dollars. The overall affects and impact of this technology remains to be seen, but I can say with certainty that we are not trending in a good direction.
I encourage you to do your own experiments in the world and see if you don’t come to the same conclusions I did. It was a good reminder for me that for the most part people are good at heart, wish others well, and are just trying to do their best to get by in their lives. We should be more sensitive and respectful of this when interacting with one another. We are truly one tribe and should act accordingly.