I travel a lot for work. I therefore Uber.
The Uber rides are one of my favorite parts of the trip. You are paired with a random human for just a few minutes and, like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.
As soon as I shut the car door I try to surmise all I can about my driver, Holmesian style. Music, smell, what’s dangling from the rear view. What type of car it is. The driver’s accent, age. To me, it’s mildly exhilarating.
I was on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico recently and met the best Uber driver I’ve ever encountered – Edward. Our 20 minutes together turned out to be unusually meaningful to me.
Edward drove a Jeep. Not one of the dandy new ones that doesn’t look like a Jeep. A Wrangler, with legit wear and tear. Los Angeles Dodgers bumper sticker (from L.A.? Turns out, yes.), canvas top. He had one of those cool wooden-bead seat covers.
He was a Hispanic man in his late forties (I guess) with a pony tail. He wore cargo shorts, sandals, and an aged t-shirt. Edward spoke with the breezy cadence of Keanu Reeves (Point Break Keanu, not Bill and Ted). He told me to throw my bags in the back seat so I could sit up front. You won’t get that invitation in D.C. We rode with the windows down.
Edward was talkative, my favorite kind of Uber driver. He told me about the weather in Santa Fe – they get snow into May (lots of ski resorts), and how the area had experienced a 30-year drought. We chuckled about the minuscule Santa Fe airport with its one-slot baggage claim. Then he threw me a curve ball.
“How’s your crypto-currency doing, man?” he said.
“Huh?” was all I could muster.
Edward pointed to two small tablets that he had harnessed to the console of his Jeep. They had little trend lines moving up and down on the black screens, a digital stock ticker. I had assumed the tablets were for navigation. Some Sherlock I am.
Edward the hippy Uber driver was managing his crypto-currency portfolio.
“Life changing times, man,” Edward encouraged. “Gotta get in low.”
I was amused and fascinated, but also felt a little pang of guilt. I thought I had Edward figured out – genial flake shuttling corporate types like me to the Three Amigos airport all day. But whether or not he made a dime with his BitCoin holdings, he was more interesting than I gave him credit for.
Snap judgments are typically lies. No matter how much I travel or what diversity of people I meet, I need to be taught this lesson over and over again.
Then I noticed the fishing pole.
Edward had one of those fold-up fishing rods on the dashboard, also uncommon among Uber chauffeurs. I asked. He kept it handy in case he wanted to turn Uber off for a while and cast into one of the nearby mountain lakes. What a nice thought.
We compared fish species of New Mexico and Florida, then we were at the airport. Too soon.
This blog is about home. How to fix it and improve it, the building and yard we call home. But also the idea of home, how where we come from shapes us and our relationships with others.
I’m not quitting my job for an Uber career and I don’t think I’ll invest in crypto-currency any time soon. But I might get one of those fold-up fishing rods to keep in my truck.