Daily Encounters With The Public

Passengers on rideshare trips often ask me how long I have been driving. When they learn it’s been almost two years, almost every one of them asks next whether I have a difficult time with people or whether I feel safe. The underlying context being that public behavior is characterized by self-centeredness, marginal social intelligence, and indifference.

I perfectly understand their anticipation. After all, I had to push and prod myself to make my first trip, and delayed several months after I had first been cleared to drive. When I finally made my first foray, mildly petrified, I reminded myself it would be a great way to pay bills while working on another project.

My first rider was waiting at the art museum in the park, and was friendly and congenial. As we headed out of the park, the rideshare navigation proceeded to direct me to exit the park, eventually, via the wrong direction down a one way street. I never suspected such designations would be an issue to watch for, and that particular service still directs to that exit.

Since then I’ve taken over 4,500 trips. If only half of those trips were of two passengers instead of one, that means there have been over 7000 people in my vehicle in 23 months. Only 9 of those are people I’d never want to see again in my life, and of those only six actually entered my car. That’s less than a tenth of one percent of riders, perfect strangers of all walks of life, national and international business travelers, local people buying groceries, going home from work, to baseball games, hockey games, and weddings.

I am astounded, and whenever someone asks about my riders, I tell them honestly, I have the best time with most of my customers. I do say a prayer every morning when I get into my car, to ask God to give me all His people. I know it is because of this I have clearly been diverted from danger, or alerted to it before a rider entered my car, because I would otherwise not have recognized what I was about to experience. I’ve also noticed that when I don’t drive for a couple of days, I actually miss meeting and chatting with riders.

Most of the people I meet, an overwhelming majority of them, are decent people who care about other people, value common sense, and happily join good will. I never expected driving rideshare would restore my opinion in the common decency of society on a personal level.

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