Do you know this feeling? You set out to do the norm and discover inspiration? You follow the regular routine and something disrupts it, yet in a good way? Turns out, my side gig for my branding startup delivered just this sort of twist. Through the ridesharing services of Uber and Lyft, I’ve had a series of rides where I’ve listened to stories and I’ve been impacted. In fact, it was happening often enough I knew I would eventually blog about it. So expect lessons on being humbled, enlightened, schooled, inspired and blessed.
Startups: Feast or famine
I’ve learned expertise and passion don’t drive a startup business. I have 20+ years of both and neither guarantees a steady client funnel and/or income. As a result, I sometimes stare the ‘feast or famine’ scenario smack in the face. When it’s famine, I drive for Uber and Lyft. These ridesharing services allow me to work when I want for however long I want. For me, this typically means early morning or early evening for a couple of hours. Driving gets me out of the house and interacting with people and the greater universe as a solopreneur.
The gifts of perspective and grace
When I drive for Uber and Lyft, passengers either talk or they look down to their phone. Honestly, there’s no in between. For those who engage, the stories get pretty real and the life journeys pour out. It’s not expected so when it happens, it’s a beautiful lesson of everyday people offering perspective and grace. Allow me to introduce a few of my favorite riders and their enlightening stories.
The lessons of everyday people
“Jasmine, the young Mom.” I picked up Jasmine at a restaurant where she’d recently scored a new job. She told me I was her first Uber ride and she needed to call her Mom to say she was safe. She explained she’d been up since 4 am getting her son ready to stay with her grandmother while she worked. As a single Mom, Jasmine lives with her parents and they both work, thus the Uber ride. We drove to her grandmother’s home and she invited me in to meet her son. We settled on sharing phone pictures and as we looked, she told me – I want to set a good example for my son. *Takeaway: God’s praise for village care and young, single moms with tenacity. Lesson: When the day feels overwhelming, get up, get your feet on the floor and move forward.
“Foodie Freddie.” I picked up Freddie at a local sub shop and he immediately started talking. At the top of the list? Consistently scoring meat-stacked subs because he’s a regular and the girls there like him. I then learn Freddie was a model for Newport Lights in his early career and he also owned a restaurant. Apparently, when Tiger Woods was in town for the PGA Players Tournament a few years ago, he wanted soul food and landed at Freddie’s place. After Tiger’s visit, his business blew up and Freddie scored 15k in one weekend because Tiger put his culinary talent on the map. *Takeaway: I simply want to sit with Freddie and hear more life stories. Lesson: Life’s a journey not a destination. Oh and also, charm goes a long way.
The magic of musicians
“Steve the saxophonist.” When I picked up Steve at his house, I realized he was blind. I wasn’t sure how to navigate the pick up. But Steve did – easy entry. He’s a musician and plays with several bands in the Jacksonville area. We shared ‘best concert ever’ and ‘the one band we still want to see’ stories. He plays here at the beaches and I was blessed to hear his surf music band, a first for me. When I dropped Steve off at his restaurant destination, I again wondered if he needed help. No surprise, Steve had it covered. He told me I know this restaurant and went right to the front door. *Takeaway: The uniquely-abled have much to teach us about living life fully. Lesson: Turn challenges into triumphs and go conquer the world.
“Diamond Dave.” It took two attempts to pick up Diamond Dave. Once I arrived, he enthusiastically jumped into the front seat and with a booming voice said hello, how are you and let’s go. And go we did. For 35 minutes, I learned about his life story. He paused briefly only to say he spoke loud because he was a sax player (yes, another coolio sax player!) and it came from years of diaphragm training. Dave told me he was in a 12-step AA program. He openly shared his loves and losses; challenges and successes; sacrifices and victories. *Takeaway: Struggle is part of life’s success. Lesson: Live life day by day and honor the small joys in life.
“The Englanders.” I picked up the Englanders at a condo complex. As they settled in, the wife asked if I could turn the air off. She told me her husband ran cold due to his brain tumor treatment. Bam. She continued to explain they’d traveled miles from across the pond. The doctors in England told them there’s nothing more they could do. With research, the Englanders learned about the UF Proton Therapy Institute. And it’s been a game changer! The husband was responding well; they were hopeful. The wife told me – I’m not sure Jacksonville knows the gem they have here. *Takeaway: I do now and thank you for the life lesson in grace – in more ways than one. Lesson: Never give up.
“Mayo Mavericks.” I picked up the Mayo Mavericks at a local breakfast joint. Ultimately, I dropped them off at Mayo’s extended home care stay. But before we got there, I learned about their family travel stories. I recall thinking to myself, wow, you have an amazing life. As we approached Mayo and continued to converse, I realized they weren’t visiting a patient – the wife was a patient. They’d been there for three months for her liver transplant follow up. She was lucky. She was doing well and her body was responding positively. *Takeaway: The wife shared a card with me, which is tucked in my overhead visor. ‘Rejoice in the Lord and be glad. Psalm 32:11.’ Lesson: Carry positive light forward.
Bringing it home
In closing, my CTA or call-to-action is supposed to drive my business. This go round, I’m simply saying everyday people matter. Each of us has an experience and story. With the hustle and bustle of life, it’s rather easy to breeze past others. Yes, life is crazy and our immediate circle of people keeps us busy enough. I hear you and still – I encourage you to engage with a passerby. A shared commute, cafe line, hallway passing, lunch table, parking lot walk, store shopping outing, work out or neighborhood walk.
My side gig with Uber and Lyft has exposed me to people I would never meet otherwise. It’s begged me to slow down long enough to let the blessing of everyday people impact my day. There are opportunities to see people differently. So listen to the stories and gain a new perspective. You’re invited and welcomed to share experiences and moments via comments.