Have you ever benefitted from a seemingly negative circumstance?
I have. Profoundly.
As we’ve searched for a second vehicle over the past several weeks, the kids and I have relied on Uber to get us where we need to go when Christian is at work, and one afternoon when both of our cars weren’t available, I found myself in the unique position of catching a ride to an appointment alone.
The Uber pulled up, and I hopped into the front seat. The driver’s mouth fell open. It was only then that I realized what I’d done. Typically, my children pile in the backseat while I ride with the driver, but today, I had no reason to pop up front.
“I’m so sorry!” I flew out of that car as if I were a chicken heading for the chopping block and hurled myself into the backseat.
The driver laughed and laughed, assuring me it would’ve been fine to ride up front.
“I so surprised,” he’d said. “No person ride up here with me. Nobody ever.”
I giggled. Leave it to me.
I then found myself pondering what a unique opportunity these Uber rides created, a window in which we could engage in the past-time of socialization, all within a small, confined space and approximately 15-minute timeframe.
I realize everyone is different. Some people may not enjoy striking up conversations with total strangers and cannot begin to wrap their minds around chatty Cathies like me who can talk to the wall.
But most seem to like it when I seek them out.
My thrifty side detests the expense, but I find myself looking forward to the next time I get into a car with a total stranger.
I love people. My sanguine side genuinely can’t get enough. I feed off listening to and learning from people from all walks of life. Christian, my husband, can tell when I need a fix.
“You need to get out, don’t you, Sweetheart?”
Just yesterday, I realized how much I enjoy popping into Ubers and chatting with the drivers. Most of them want to talk, but once in a while, they stay on their headsets and immerse themselves in their private calls, which is fine.
I’m not about to force it.
My kids know how I am. They used to roll their eyes and mumble, “Here she goes,” when I would open my mouth during the silence following our settling in for the ride. But now, after we get in, one of them tends to pipe up and ask, “So, do you like driving for Uber?” And, after a polite response, the next question follows. “Where are you from, originally?”
Because we live ten minutes from Manhattan, our drivers often originate from different countries, so we’ve gotten varied responses to that question, one that not only opens conversational doors – it opens hearts. Typically nothing illuminates the drivers’ faces more than sharing thoughts of their homeland and their families. Even the most stoic, crusty soul will offer detail after detail about something that they love.
We’ve learned about Egyptian history and topography, the challenges of the people of Venezuela, and life in Peru, Colombia, Chile, and more. My children sit mesmerized as they hear the plights of immigrants, the stories of different countries and cultures, and the lessons learned through managing an independent business in a foreign land.
Talk about an education! I must remember to put a world map in my purse.
But it’s not just about information – it’s about this person that God, whatever His reason, has allowed to cross our path that day. I want my kids to grow up knowing this and caring about everyone they encounter, valuing them and appreciating the opportunity before them.
All people crave to be known and to matter.
When was the last time someone asked you to tell your story? Not just the basic “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” but instead gave full attention to who you are and how you came to be where you’re at in life?
Every person is important. And every person has a story worth listening to. In our technological era, such engagement can sadly prove a rarity. Parents spend more time texting at playgrounds than they do watching Sally Sue go down the slide much less saying hello to other parents across the wood chips.
I want to spend my life listening and learning, lingering and lauding, laughing with and loving on people who may not have anyone in their circle interested enough to ask and appreciate them for the person that they are.
Ah, the pleasure of people! Pure and profound, may it last ’til my grave, for I believe that relationships and the pursuit of them is what the best of this life is all about. May I spend every day pouring into the hearts and minds of those around me, infusing love and encouragement – even through little things.
One driver and I had a great conversation about how he loved to go through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru and pay for the car behind him.
“It’s my way to show kindness.”
I whipped around to the backseat. “Did you hear that, kids, how this gentleman showed kindness in the drive-thru?” They talked excitedly amongst themselves.
“That’s so great! Say, Mom, let’s do that next time we go through the drive-thru.”
The driver winks at me, and I thank him for teaching my children about kindness.
All because we had to take an Uber.
Thank You, God, that our car is in the shop. Thank You for the opportunity to meet people we otherwise would never have met. Thank You for the lessons learned and the time well spent.
Fifteen minutes with a stranger.