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One of the most common complaints I see about taking Uber or Lyft is having a talkative driver. Apparently, when people get an Uber, they expect to ride in someone’s car in the complete, awkward silence of a wake. Maybe, just maybe, they want the radio on, but only to stifle the deafening silence. I guess in a way it is a wake, but what died is interpersonal communication. I mean, five minutes of silence to the bars is understandable, but are you really going to sit in an Uber for twenty or thirty minutes without saying a word? Some people won’t even talk to the friend they’re riding with while in an Uber. It just boggles my mind.
I use Uber very frequently. Living in a driving city with a state patrol with a dedicated DUI division, you have to take an Uber if you are going out drinking. It’s also useful if you are going downtown with a tight deadline and don’t want to risk not finding parking. I also take Uber from the airport if I’m on a business trip in a walking city. Of course, I’m not always in the mood to talk, but I also find it intriguing, polite, and worthwhile to talk to the driver. You can learn a lot about the city, whether it’s your city or if you are visiting. You get to meet people from all walks of life. My drivers have ranged from people on government assistance to recent immigrants to contract software programmers who are making some extra money in their free time or want to make money while exploring a new city. Everybody has a story, and they all have value. We all live in our own bubble. We get so set in our loops that we forget there is a world outside our own.
I received Miami restaurant recommendations from an Uber driver. I learned about the cause of the Atlanta overpass fire from an Uber driver. I learned the fate of Turner Field from an Uber driver. An African immigrant Uber driver explained to me the modernization and growing pains of Nigeria. I got to talk jazz with a woman from New Orleans and how in the era of Beyonce that Ella Fitzgerald doesn’t get the credit she deserves. I had a great conversation with a young guy who was saving up to start his own business.
One of my most memorable Uber rides was an Afghan immigrant who was granted a special immigrant visa for being an interpreter for the US military. You don’t really get perspective on how amazing our country is until you talk to someone from a horrible country. He’s trying to bring his family over to escape the daily violence in Afghanistan. He loves the freedoms we have and that, no matter how embarrassing and truly insane our president is, at least he makes appearances and talks to the people, unlike the Afghan president who is basically absentee. It was really a wonderful conversation with a great guy who believes in the American dream. I never really get to talk to people like that in my own bubble. We know nothing of the world, and all we do here is complain, and I’m as guilty as anyone. It really gave me perspective.
To be honest, I probably get this from my dad, who loves talking to Uber drivers and always imparts to me what he’s learned from Uber drivers from California to Germany, and everywhere in-between. But it shouldn’t just be a personality thing. What do you really have to lose by talking to your Uber driver? It’s far more valuable than sitting in silence and shooting tweets and texts and DMs at faceless people and keeping well within your social circle. You don’t have to become best friends with your driver, but how on Earth could you act like a talkative Uber driver is the most annoying thing in the world? What are people afraid of? You might find a great new restaurant or learn something new. Stop being sociophobic and talk to your fellow man..