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Get Chummy with Strangers

Get Chummy with Strangers

I am an African-American woman in my mid 50’s, who, in all aspects of my life, underwent drastic lifestyle changes. I had never been on my own. I either had my loving parents, or the strength and love of my husband to depend on — heavily. With neither as a crutch anymore, I needed a solution that would yield long-term benefits. More than financial, I needed benefits that produced a sustainable lifestyle. For me, sustainability also needed purpose. While I am not there yet, I am well on my way thanks to my drive —literally. 

I drive UBER.

With no time to waste, I needed answers fast. Somewhere I heard the name Uber, and without fully understanding what Uber meant, I learned that it was an opportunity towards financial gain.  I was desperate. My mid-life circumstances dictated my need. There was no choice; I decided, part-time driving for Uber was it. I wondered… can I handle the constant driving? What about strangers in my car? While the task seemed daunting, it was sink or swim time!

The tables in my life were suddenly turned, and I was on my own. Survival became imminent. Times were tough, and I had to toughen up or be a “wet noodle” and let life swallow me up!

Looking back, I unashamedly boast that my Uber driving experience changed my life. I toughened up! Among other things, some of which I will share later, the business and professional riders I met have impacted my life -and- my future for the better. Before the riders get out of my car, they too thank me for the talk. We talk about tough issues. Through thousands of car rides, and tons of conversations stereotypes are shattered and empathy for the “other” is brought to life!

We are more alike than we are different.  

I’ve been able to straddle the divide between those who get their foot in the door and those who never cross the threshold of opportunity.  In the drive time, the very real opportunity gap for women of color has begun to close for me. In the trusted confines of my car, professionals, dignitaries and everyday people develop a genuine interest in me – the black lady driving the black car. 

We are more alike than we are different. 

We can choose to care about others if we pause, talk and listen.  The trusting atmosphere in my car, levels the field. We talk about gaps, racial and otherwise. Let’s be honest, the “gaps” that exist in America today, are deeper than economics and equity. Gaps exist because American citizens lack empathy for each other because we do not talk  – especially with the other. In my car, however, professional people -from every walk of life, without exaggeration- develop a genuine interest in me, and I in them because we talk. Our feelings become mutual. Questions are asked. Conversations are had. 

We each say good-bye but we leave a little closer than we were before I started the trip. Disclaimer: I certainly am no slouch when it comes to talking. I am a full-time educator with an MBA in Liberal Studies. I love to talk! Adding UBER to my life gives me the chance to be the teacher and the student every time I start my engine. Literally. I couldn’t be happier.  

Next: Excuse me, former UN member, what did you say? … And young man did you get sick in my car??

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