Another year will soon come to an end. Like every year, my retrospection has begun. I have had this good / bad habit of doing it every December since childhood, one that I try hard but cannot get rid of. This year as I look back, one of the things I realize is I did not write as much as I wanted to. I did not share all the stories that I scribbled in Evernote or some compartment of my head so that I could tell them later.

Well, we still have 3 more weeks left of this year. So I will play a little catch up and smuggle in few stories in between the “Author of the week” event on the blog. And here comes the first one.
Few weeks back, one morning while on a business trip, I finally used Uber. What took me this long? That is not important for the story. Lets just say I had many other options.
I was quite tensed for a difficult meeting that awaited me later that morning. I had prepared but no preparation could make me feel any better. So when I got into the car, the apprehension was perhaps very evident on my face. It did not help that I had also heard horror Uber stories from women. The driver / owner of the car perhaps gauged that. He was warm and welcoming while being non-interfering (not asking too many questions). We greeted each other, he typed in my destination on Google maps and we headed out of the airport.
After a good 15 minutes of what was to be a long ride. He spoke.
“Your first Uber ride?”
“Yes”
“How did you find the experience so far?”
“So far, very convenient.”
He broke the ice and we got chatting. That is when I learnt that Sam, the person driving me that day was a retired Assistant Vice-Principal from LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District). After having spent the first two years of retirement at home, doing nothing but watching TV, he had decided to try driving for Uber. All he needed was a smartphone, a clean working car and a will to try something completely new for his second innings.  He could pick his hours of work, he could switch off when he wanted to and he still had his freedom to do other things in the day.
Sam was very well read and had travelled the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation we had. So while he was dropping me at my destination, I told him I was in awe of this first Uber ride.
This is what he said in response. “At your age, we all want the best of everything. At my age, we just want to stay happy.”
I did not feel so tensed about my meeting any more.
That evening, I took an Uber again. The person who picked me up at the curb was dressed so very formally, I remember I almost chuckled. I discovered he is a law student, who works in a renowned lawyer’s office during the day, drives all evening till it is time for his late evening law classes. He told me he drove for a different reason. The money from driving went towards hiking and trekking and travelling. He had travelled more cities than I could count.
After this day, it was no surprise that I felt much more at ease taking a Uber/ Lyft ride but what I most looked forward to were the stories and each time I found one.
On the next trip, it was a mother of three who drove while the children were away at school and while she waited between their soccer and piano lessons.
“I had a few hours to spare everyday and I was tired of complaining that I was not doing anything for myself. I love driving so I said why not. Let me give this a try and it worked out well.” For the rest of the drive, we talked about the absence of formal art and music classes in our school district.
I have since met more retired officials, students and mothers and heard their stories during my rides. This is not an Uber / Lyft promotion post. That is not the intent of this story. After listening to the stories I was told, I just felt the need to tell them to others. When something wrong happens, we jump to write our opinions and observations on social media, many a times sharing other’s opinion’s without knowing much about it.
So what harm could there be in sharing good, positive, inspiring, uplifting stories from our day-to-day life. Why not take a moment to appreciate the effort of people who are striving to try something new in the second innings of their life. My dad struggles to use a smart phone so I know that it is not easy to learn new things after a certain age.
Mothers are constantly running around trying to balance everything in their life. When in that whole scheme of things, I find mothers who take what they have and make the most for themselves, I take a moment to applaud them. Be it driving Uber, volunteering at the school, running a charity drive, climbing a summit or running a marathon. Every bit matters, every thing matters because I know what it takes to do that every bit.

Now for the students, I really envy them. I am jealous of them. I wish I had been so very enterprising at their age.  That desire to see the world and learn more about it, I wish I had done more about it then. I wish I do more about it now. I wish I am a lot less fearless of trying new things. 

Of all the things that exist in the world, there will always be good and bad. Pick what you want. Harp on the bad or get inspired by the good. My choice is pretty obvious by now. 

Written by : Piya Mukherjee Kalra 

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