I drove for Uber and Lyft for six months this year and more often than not, passengers ask, “how is it to be a driver?”
If you’ve used these ride sharing services, this might have been you.
Well, after only a dozen rides, I was surprised by my very own answer—enlightenment.
This contracting “job” can essentially allow anyone to move anywhere they want. Take me for example: I moved across the country to one of the most notoriously expensive places, the Bay Area, and was able to survive. But beyond this freedom, I realized that people needn’t participate just for the money. Heck, even the “rich” could be drivers. A myriad of benefits beyond daily incoming money transfers await:
1. Above all, nothing is beneath us.
While we may patronize these services ourselves, it is being in the driver’s shoes— with a foot on the pedal—that we can begin to understand. One may be pleasantly humbled simply by moving people from point A to point B, and the usual inclination to be judgmental dissipates into the rear view.
2. This new perspective is passed on to passengers.
For example, once they hear about your “past life” (your career), multilingual abilities, or advanced degrees— among other “successful-people” attributes—any naivité and assumptions are at least temporarily quelled.
3. Budding musicians, renowned creative directors, Instagram-famous tattoo artists, business executives aplenty and students just trying to get by—my car has seen a little bit of everything.
Meeting—let alone sharing so many conversation s with—such a diverse set of folks, is just as if I traveled the world in a day. I can only postulate some sort of psychological phenomenon, that a confined yet structured space enables the transcendence of disparities in age, interests and socioeconomic levels. A space where passengers evolve into symbols of inspiration, diversity, and sometimes LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends and at worst, stops on this highway called life.
4. Many say the shower or a dream is where or how they thought of significant life plans, and I am convinced that if we didn’t prune, we’d all be geniuses the world over.
I now can say that Uber and Lyft cars are the new way. Driving to new, sometimes unknown destinations spurs a refreshing out-pour of ideas—where the mind will have no choice but to react. One can be deliberate with this time and set intentions to simply think—or not think at all.
5. Ride sharing literally means fewer cars on the road thereby equating to less carbon emissions, less traffic, and the list of efficiencies goes on.
Fewer inebriated people behind the wheel as well and only drivers in nirvana getting high off of life—karma points for all.
6. Commutes, conferences, entertainment outings and even dropping the kids off—having your hands on the “10 and 2” means you are truly feeling the pulse of a city.
Explore all sorts of neighborhoods and hidden gems—often narrated by the best source: the locals. They say to travel by foot or by train or bike. Now I believe driving Uber or Lyft is the best new way to travel. (It is important to mention that it is not necessary to have lived in the area where you are driving and know every street — that’s what the in-app navigation is for.)
7. Driving gets us out of the house and into the world.
Morever, tuning in to a podcast on spirituality or “That’s so retrograde,” blasting MC Yogi or Ram Dass on the way to a pick up is sure to be a stress relief. Sometimes all it takes is a passenger’s positive vibes to inspire you (as they say, getting in the car is the first step to getting to the gym).
8. Friends and family are always pleasantly intrigued — and confused — when they hear about my new-found side job.
Two friends even signed up to drive. For one of the first times, I felt like I was truly pioneering a movement.
When I left Florida last June after living there nearly my whole life, there were old friends, family friends and relatives, and outside observers who said I wouldn’t last—and when they heard I drove for Uber and Lyft, they were sure of it. But I circumvented the road blocks, embraced the stops, and climbed the steepest hills with courage—and let me tell you, the views were magnificent.
From Clarendon Heights to the Golden Gate Bridge to the cliffs of Santa Cruz, I have never ceased to be amazed. Uber and Lyft allowed me to do something I may not have been able to do sitting behind a desk nine-to-five: search for myself more than I ever had before.
I still drive from time to time; I don’t drive all day and make a living doing it like thousands of people all over the world, in fact I never did ( though sometimes there were some crucial deposits). I’ll never forget where I came from— and what literally drove me.
Author: Ali Sun Blair
Image: Anne Worner/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman