I like to drive for uber a few hours in the early morning, usually from 4am-8am, before I go to work. When I drive that early, I get a wide range of personalities. Many times, at that hour, I'll get a call from a rider who needs a ride to the airport because of business travel. Sometimes, I'll get a call from a plant worker, who is on his/her way to do the morning shift. I've even gotten calls from students getting a ride to school at that hour.
But a couple of weeks ago, I got what was maybe my oddest rider to date. Around 6:30am in Redford, I pulled up to a neighborhood house, and Ashley walked out to the car. Ashley looked fairly young. She was wearing thigh-high socks with horizontal stripes, much like the Wicked Witch of the West, to accompany her concert T-shirt, black leather jacket, shorts, and pigtails. She walked up to the car, and from outside, asked whether she should sit in the front or the back. (For future riders: your driver will normally say either is fine, but as a driver, I can tell you that we DEFINITELY want our riders to ride in the back.) So, of course, Ashley jumped in the front seat, and we were on our way...15 minutes from our destination.
Now, I don't want you to think that I'm about to use hyperbole in any way, so I'm going to transcribe the EXACT conversation that happened from the moment Ashley jumped in the car.
Me: Good morning, how are you today?
Ashley: How old are you?
Me: Oh...well, how old do you think I am?
Ashley: Probably 32?
Me: Ha, no. I'm 37.
Ashley: Yikes. I'm 19, so this is weird. Ok. Anyway...can I smoke in here?
Me: No, Sorry.
Ashley: *Expletive* *Expletive* All my other uber drivers are cool and let me smoke in the car. Whatever.
Me: Yeah, sorry. I'm not that cool
...5 minutes of silence passes...
Ashley: You're kinda boring.
Me: Excuse me?
Ashley: Yeah, you don't smile, or laugh, or anything. Weird.
Me: Well, it's 6:30am...I'm just trying to get you to your destination.
Ashley: Are you married?
Me: No, I'm engaged.
Ashley: But, how? I mean, you're so boring. I don't get...you know what I mean?
Me: I don't know...I guess some chicks just dig boring guys.
...10 minutes of silence goes by, and I pull up to her destination...
Me: Ok, have a good one. Enjoy your smokes.
Ashley: Oh I don't want to smoke anymore. (Door slam)
That was a human interaction that ACTUALLY HAPPENED to me. I remember it vividly, for obvious reasons. I wasn't mad or offended...I didn't know Ashley enough to care about her opinions or be bothered by them. I was in disbelief, more than anything.
I'll refrain from too much commentary about Ashley...I think the transcript speaks for itself. But I'll say this: There are two extremes. The first extreme is individuals who act like they're the star of their own show, and the people around them are extras in the show. The second extreme is individuals who respect others around them, no matter if those people are best friends, baristas, co-workers, or strangers. I want to continually be more like the second extreme. It's easy to ignore, write off, or be totally indifferent to people who can offer nothing. It's even easier to write someone off, or disrespect them, from behind a computer screen or windshield (interaction behind glass always emboldens us, distancing us from empathy).
Hopefully this hilariously odd uber rider can encourage you today to have more compassion, and be more human, to everyone in your world. You could be the positivity that someone needs today.