Uber Drivers Are People, Too

Photo by  Dan Gold  on  Unsplash

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

The other night, we were catching an Uber to go to dinner downtown.

(**For you Uber newbs: once you “match” with an available driver, you’re then able to see a “live” map of their route to you.)

With the “arriving in 2 minutes” warning received, we headed outside to wait on the curb for our ride.

We watched the map and saw as our driver passed our street, made a U-turn, then passed it again.

We got a call: “Are you at _____ restaurant?” the driver asked.

“No,” I responded, “We live near the Costco.”

“Oh, okay. I’m so sorry,” she said, “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

It’s a humid summer night in the south. My make-up is sweating off. I’ve left my sunglasses inside, and Michael is in pants. We’re both hot, a little exasperated, and also hungry.

The map shows our driver pulling into the apartment complex.

We see her, and proceed to wave in attempts to direct her our way (despite the fact that we’ve placed the navigation pin exactly where we’re standing…)

She drives the wrong way.

We can see her, so we wait to see if she’s trying to see us.

She keeps driving the wrong way.

We’re growing hotter and hungrier, so I place a call through the app to her.

“We’re on your right, on the other side of the building you’re in front of. Take a right at the end of the road you’re on and you should see us waving.”

“Okay great! I’m so sorry. I’ll be there in just a sec!”

After not even close to 2 minutes as originally notified, we climb into Natasha’s car.

She drives us the 15 or so minutes downtown where we learn she’s a mother of 4 and her oldest is starting college this fall.
She’s from this area, but doesn’t drive here much because she cares for her parents who live on the other side of town.
She is smiley and sassy, engaging and curious about us as well.
She wants to travel, maybe live somewhere else for a few years, and she’s nervous about her teenage daughter’s use of social media and the pressures she knows she’s facing as she starts high school this year.

In short: she’s a person

She’s a real, feeling, human person.
Capable of mistakes— like missing turns and misunderstanding GPS directions.
Full of fears and hopes and responsibilities, just like the rest of us.

Admittedly, we were never rude to her, but as we waited for her in exasperation because of our own expectations and assumptions of what this Uber driver “should” be for us, we robbed ourselves of moments of joy.

(Read that again: we robbed ourselves.)

Things would have looked a lot different if I knew the things I learned about Natasha during our trip as we waited on her in the humid heat.

But we’re all guilty of this: impeccably high expectations arbitrarily placed on other human beings, selfishness in the belief that this experiences is firstly (and only) about us, ignorance in the assumption that the human we are interacting with is not also someone just like us.

My question is: who does it benefit to lead with these expectations and assumptions? 

What can we do about that?