Uber: The Mobile Classroom

uber post pic 2

(Image from https://pixabay.com)

I went to Atlanta last week for a little early summer fun. Note: In Atlanta it’s actually summer already compared to the June Gloom low 70s weather situation that’s been going on at home here in LA. 🙁 (sigh) Making the most of the nice weather, I was able to get out and enjoy some fun tourist attractions and visit friends. I usually prefer booking a rental car when I’m away for multiple days at a time. There’s just something about maintaining independence while out of town. Though this time around I decided to go the Uber route for a couple reasons. 1) I just wanted to ride around enjoying the scenery and not the traffic (everyone kept talking about how bad the Atlanta traffic is)…2) I’m typically good with directions but the mere thought of getting lost somewhere in the back woods of Georgia frightens me! (*Cue in the big-eyed embarrassment emoji face.*)

I met a diverse group of Uber drivers that inspired me in unique ways. The car rides during my trips were like unconventional classrooms. Consider it a two-for-one if you will: life lessons plus I was transported to where I needed to go. Uber School of Hardknocks Meets Driving Ms. Daisy 🙂

On to the lessons…

1) You never know who you are talking to. Your next move may depend on it.

This particular driver was pretty quiet at first. I typically like to strike up conversations with folks in these intimate settings. The idea of the 2 of us sitting quietly for a car ride seems a bit eerie to me. Despite my initial efforts to strike up conversation, he appeared to be a bit closed off. He was an older gentleman (not to mention I look like a teenager) so I figured he may have assumed we had nothing in common. Or perhaps he was consumed in the grueling traffic that the ATLiens (Outkast reference) spoke about so frequently.

Well somewhere between disengagement and the rush hour traffic, the silence broke. He pointed out a Muhammad Ali tribute marquee and somehow we went from the boxing champ to careers and beyond!

I mentioned that I’ve been blogging and exploring more creative writing projects. He then told me about a friend of his that does marketing and social media related projects as a contractor for some amazing companies. My Uber driver turned social buddy suggested I reach out to his friend via Linked In to see what career advice he can give me.

As we continued to chat, he shared that he volunteers teaching job search skills to unemployed members of the community through his church. I told him that inspired me to come home and look into a similar opportunity. From there we got into the deep world of testimonies and walking by faith. One might say it was a case of 2 strangers with enough in common to carry on a conversation. But the underlying messages in the conversation were no coincidence. It really spoke to me on a variety of levels – a timely message indeed. And to think, the car was silent for the first 15 minutes of the drive!

2) Learn from the mistakes of others.

This next driver tickled me. First he was playing a gospel station while T-Pain’s voice gave out navigation steps on his phone (in place of Siri). No really it was T-pain’s voice – no kidding! Then his phone rang while mounted on the wind shield. He was receiving a call from “My Wifey”. He went from the Uber driver to the biggest (metaphoric) teddy bear in the state of Georgia. It was too cute. During our ride he shared how he just got married last year on his birthday. (More cuteness points.) He went on to tell me that this is his second marriage. His first union was for the wrong reasons (too long for this post – plus I don’t want to put all the man’s business out there). He was passionate about getting it right this time.

I could tell that he was committed to sharing his testimony to help others. I’m sure it takes great courage to share relationship triumphs and tragedies with a complete stranger. It was no mistaking there was a greater call within him.

3) Be willing to take a leap of faith.

Now this conversation/lesson was my favorite. The timing of it was pretty interesting as it occurred on my trip to the airport headed home. My final lesson of the trip. I was putting my luggage in the driver’s car and happened to look at her license plate frame which was from a local dealer in my hometown. I hopped in the car. As soon as I confirmed the airport as my destination, my following words were “Are you from California?”. She laughed awkwardly and looked at me like I was a potential stalker and said nervously “Yeah…how did you know?”. I replied “the license plate frame”. She let out a laugh of relief and said “Oh yeah. I forgot about that!”.

Come to find out the neighborhood she’s from is about 5 minutes from mine. She shared how she moved to Atlanta a few months ago and was finally getting settled in. We went on to have a long talk about taking risks and leaving comfort zones. What amazed me was that she’s 7 years younger than me. Just goes to show life lessons can come from someone of any age.

In interviewer mode (unintentionally) I asked her “So how did you feel the moment you stepped off the plane? When you knew this wasn’t just a vacation…”. She laughed but looked so intrigued to be asked the question. In her eyes it looked like she was taking herself back to that moment. She said “I was thinking to myself: ‘Wow! I really did it. I really just up and moved!’ But I kinda felt like I was losing my mind at the same time. It took my mind awhile to adjust”.

It was so inspiring to hear her story. Especially with her being from my hometown; it hit so close to home (no pun intended). Side note: my guess is that her “losing [her] mind” and having to adjust had something to do with that West Coast to East Coast time difference. It still has me feeling a little “cray” (Kanye voice) myself!

The driver’s story not only inspired me but challenged me as well. Four days back in California and I’m still thinking about her story frequently. It translates to the bravery involved in taking leaps of faith from as complex as moving across the country to as less complex as trying a new type of food. Stepping out of your comfort zone takes guts but always results in a new level of confidence amongst much more.



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