It’s true. I’m not a technology guru or intimately familiar with my laptop functionality nor have I downloaded many apps to my iPhone. I’d heard of the Uber app but I don’t have the need for a car service and personal driver. I’ve used cabs in the past but trusting a random stranger, in their own vehicle, seems like an even bigger risk. God only knows where Uber technology will lead.
Last week I had planned to stay in the city after a work event. My girlfriend was out of town and said I could stay at her Medford house. One of the guys in the office suggested Uber to get to her place and I cringed. Although, when I thought of the trains at night or the expense for a cab over a couple of days, I cringed even more. So, I listened to his sales pitch. I heard some of the Uber options and learned that my colleague has used Uber exclusively without any problems. I knew a cab would be over $30. and Uber priced out closer to $20. With the added knowledge that my first ride would be free, cheapo me decided to forego any potential safety concerns and go for it.
My colleague set up requests for our group and we all waited for our Uber drivers. They arrived almost at the same time, so nobody was left behind. After checking the license plate and verifying my drivers name, I climbed in. I was as tentative as playing a new video game only reassured by the little car on my screen that was moving toward its ultimate destination.
My driver that first night was Jean. After mutual hellos and cursory talk of the weather, we both settled in – him with his car signals and me with a tight grip on my bags and my iPhone map. After an 80’s tune on the radio, I started to relax. I knew the second set of song lyrics, which never happens to music-suppressed-upbringing me, and told the driver. He laughed and said in his exotic accent, “you like my easy listening?” A new song started and he asked if I was familiar with it. I laughed and spoke the lyrics as he started to sing. So I sang with him. Our duo was iconic. I was still conscience of my belongings but my subconscience was loudly singing “just another day in paradise” with Jean! I was feeling like my free self and then “True Colors” followed on the spin list. Jean (and my GPS) told me we had time for one more, so we both belted it out! I never had a cab driver sing to me and i got the fare for a song – free!
My second driver was Henrique. He was an older driver, and although he wasnt as melodic as Jean, he too made me feel at ease. He was from Brockton and worked by day as an Operations Manager for CVS. He’d been an Uber driver for six months but already knew his way around the cities from giving state cops driving lessons. This guy was too much. Henrique had connections and as I soon learned, grandchildren. He offered to show me pictures as he hit the photos icon on his dashboard iPhone. That was too much for me. I told him I’d love to see them – once we arrived at my destination. As the light changed, he laughingly agreed. We talked about family for the rest of the ride. He was true to his Grandpa word and took the time to show me the grandkids before he pulled away. It was late and I was tired but I unexpectedly enjoyed my driver’s company once again.
So, it’s false. You can teach an old dog new tricks. I embraced new technology and relinquished some control. I did use a personal driver after all and Uber suited my needs. I trusted a fellow human being, let go and had two fabulous rides and conversations. Only God had known where it would lead.