Uber hopping last weekend gave me a different kind of education. I had never taken Uber before I went to visit my grand niece who is studying in Pensacola. In a mere two days, I was just as fascinated by the snapshots of Uber drivers’ lives as I was by the Spanish architecture of Seville Quarter.
A young woman driver with long purple tresses, smelling slightly sweet, makes her family’s living while her husband stays home to care for their two young ones. Another young man, who struck me as quite ambitious, makes twice as much driving for Uber as he does with his regular job–besides keeping up with four different stocks. He explained Uber pricing to me–how it all depends on supply and demand. A ride that is priced at $20.00 one minute might only cost $14.00 if you wait for a few minutes later. That information proved useful.
Palafox Street is in a downtown area that has been recently revitalized. One older driver with a pony tail said it is now a safe place to walk. (My niece said some places still are unsafe because of a prevalent drug culture and sex trafficking.) I happened to catch this driver on one of the first days after the three-mile bay bridge had re-opened. Hurricane Sally had loosened a barge, which slammed into the bridge and took a sizable chunk out of it, making it too costly for Uber drivers to go the long way around to pick up customers. He opined that many shops and restaurants are having a hard time finding workers because of COVID handouts. Those payments will stop by the end of the month, however.
Another young driver with long dark lashes, yawned sleepily saying she got out to drive earlier than usual because her house had just burned down the day before and she needed money. She was amazingly calm about it, saying, “It will work out.” I gave her an extra tip and wished her well.
The Uber driver who encapsulated the various stories and persons I met was a man of rich experience. During the cold war of the 1960’s, he had worked in service to the Germans intelligence bureau (like our CIA). However, he never thought of those he spied on as “enemies.” He gave an example of spending an enjoyable weekend with a Romanian family whom he related to as friends. Of all the folks he came in contact with, he thought of them as “just people,” no matter that his life could have been in danger had his cover been blown.
And then there was my seatmate on United Airlines who turned out to be in charge of making sure the Navy’s Blue Angels planes were in good repair for their missions. He kept a running conversation going for two hours, explaining to this pacifist what their mission was and asking questions about my long and varied life experiences. We found common ground on various topics.
I concurred with the Uber driver who sees others as “just people” who mostly want to live their lives in peace without judgment or enmity. Had I taken the opportunity to chat with this couple under the bamboo in a Seville Quarter patio, I’m sure I would have found that they were “just people” too. Indeed, I have known an amazing variety of folks from different cultures and countries, and I hope that I will always be willing to see them without self-righteous judgment, through the eyes of God’s grace.