I attended the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference last week in San Francisco. The city is a vibrant mixture of ethnicities. It is the Melting Pot come to life. The best way to see this is to talk to natives. I did just that as I travelled around the city in my down time from conference meetings and sessions. I took Uber eleven times over the course of four days. (What can I say? That city is filled with roller coaster-esque hills). My Uber drivers taught me things about life while getting to my destinations. Thanks Uber!
Each driver came from a different background, had a different story, and a different answer as to what we should see in our short time in San Francisco. Robert was a young African American man with long dreadlocks who was driving that day because it had rained earlier and he typically works construction. He said tourist educate him as to what he should see in his hometown. He had never heard of the Golden Gate Park and its hiking trails before someone asked him to take them there. How often do we ignore those every day things around us? Be a tourist in your own town! Thank you Robert for the reminder. Mohammad was our next driver. He was an older, Middle Eastern gentleman. He asked if we had seen the crooked Lombard Street yet and when we replied no, he changed course slightly, stopped at the bottom and allowed us to take photos before continuing on our way. He didn’t get paid any additional amount from Uber for going out of his way. (Yes. I tipped him for his kindness though). Mohammad didn’t want us to miss an opportunity. Go out of your way for people! Gassan was Pakistani. He offered a multitude of restaurant suggestions and told us to try the Cow Brains at a particular Pakistani restaurant. (Um… No). His lesson to me was small gestures matter when people are in need. When he picked us up, I laughed and said I was glad he arrived before my phone completely died since my battery was at 1%. He unplugged his phone from the charger and plugged mine in. Small gesture? Absolutely. Did it make me feel better? Absolutely! He also stopped and pointed out that cars disappeared as soon as they turned down the street across from us. Once we had watched a few cars immediately disappear, taillights and all, we crossed the intersection and entered what seemed like a 90 degree hill straight down. He took the time to point out that we were about to experience something amazing so we didn’t miss a moment of it. Take time to let others enjoy the wonder of life. Maximino, James, Hameed, Raed, Saghar, and Alex took us around town too as pool drivers. Each was incredibly friendly, shared their time and vehicles with us, and made me appreciate life in small town South Carolina. Raed was amazed that we owned houses. He drives Uber to help pay his insane rent for a room in San Francisco. What he pays for one room is more than double what I pay for a house. He seemed awe struck when he asked how much our rent was and we replied that we paid much less for a mortgage. Be thankful for what you have. James was a financial advisor. Alex works in software. Saghar drives only on the weekends to help make ends meet, not for extras but to make ends meet. We are blessed and we don’t even realize it.
Thanks Uber and my wonderful drivers for reminding me of the important things in life!