There is a certain comfort you feel when talking with a stranger.
You figure “This person doesn’t know me and I will never see them again. Why not tell them about my porn preferences?”
To make a little extra cash I’ve started driving for the rideshare service Lyft, and while I haven’t had anyone discuss their porn preferences with me (yet), I have had a number wonderful and meaningful conversations with complete strangers.
A couple of weeks ago, spring break ended for the college kids in my area. So for most of my fares that Saturday, I was just taking students from the airport to their dorm or apartment.
My personal rule with talking in my car is I don’t typically initiate a conversation past a friendly ‘hello’ or ‘how was the flight?’ If they want to keep talking, I’ll participate, but I never force a discussion of any kind past formalities.
When I noticed that I was going to be driving college kids all day, I was less than thrilled.
“Great. I have to drive a bunch of broke, hungover privileged kids back to their preppy little colleges.”
Be honest, how obvious is it that I’m a college drop out?
However, I was crazy surprised by how polite and kind these fares were! We had some of the best discussions about life and society then I have had in some time.
The most common subject that was brought up was their college majors and ambitions after school.
“I’m planning to be a dentist after school.” One fare told me
“Really? Have a passion for it?” I asked casually
“I mean… not really. I mean, it’s fine. It was the best thing that I could find that I could tolerate and make the most money from.” he paused a moment to peel the skin off of his orange “If I’m honest, I’m kinda hating school right now. It’s just… rough.”
I know that it’s practical and necessary to consider a future salary, but hearing this kid talk like that broke my heart. He sounded like he already lost a fight he hadn’t even truly started yet.
He was a sweet and incredibly kind young man that loved soccer. When we talked about sports, I could hear the laughter and joy in his voice. A complete 180 from the dentist talk.
“Well, if money wasn’t an object, what would you WANT to do?” I asked
“I’ve always wanted to be a sports announcer, but there’s not really money in that.”
“Well, not to say you should probably take advice from your Lyft driver, but I’m coming from a sort of similar situation. Before this, I worked a career job as a violin tech’s apprentice. I fixed stringed instruments for a living. It wasn’t a bad job, but it wasn’t for me. After a couple of years of doing it, I quit.”
“What did you do then?” He asked. Mouth half full of orange
“I thought about how I always wanted to tell stories for a living. I loved writing and thought: If not now, when? So I did some research, and now I am a full-time freelance writer. I’ll be honest with you, I broker now then I have been in some time. But, I am also the happiest that I have ever been.”
“Yeah man. Money will only bring you so much happiness. It can never fill the void in your heart like chasing your bliss and being true to who you are can.”
There was a stillness in the car for a short time before we arrived at his dorm. I got out of the car to help him with his luggage, and we shook hands. He asked about where he could check out my writing. I give him my website address and wish him luck. He did the same, and we went our separate ways.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not some sort of sage of wisdom. I could have given him horrible advice for all I know. I certainly remember when I was younger I absolutely hated receiving unsolicited life advice from people. I just wanted to tell him my truth in hopes it would resonate with his. The kind of honest truth you can only get from talking with someone you’ve never met before.
There is a certain comfort you feel talking with a complete stranger.
As far as you can figure, you will never see them ever again, so why not open up a little? That’s when the real magic happens. We are all on our own journey that only we can navigate, but it’s always comforting when you can walk alongside someone else for a time. Even when its someone you will never see again.