Thursday, May 18, 2017

When I'm a Passenger

Photo Ashrafal Arefin

When my mom still lived up north, she would take the train down here to visit. She would invariably step out of the station with scraps of paper in her purse with the emails of the new people she'd met that day. She's got a gift for making fast friends.

I've read that most people using Uber or Lyft sit in the backseat, as one does in a cab. Three out of four times when I'm using a ride service, I will ask to sit in the front. I get into conversations with drivers. On longer rides, like to and from the airport, I usually walk-away with the life story of the person behind the wheel. Like mother, like daughter.

Last week, I met three interesting drivers. There was Robert, a truck-driver from Lakewood who'd been laid off at the beginning of the year. I heard about his wife, who was originally from the Philippines, and their struggle to have children. I heard how his in-laws have never forgiven their daughter for marrying a caucasian and about his childhood growing up in Santa Fe Springs.

Miguel is originally from El Salvador and is the lone accountant in a family of physicians. He had hopes that his college-age daughter would follow in his footsteps but she announced that she was going pre-med. He tried to pretend he was disappointed. He absolutely wasn't.

James is moving to Atlanta in two weeks with his daughter. Neither of them have ever been there but they are going to be close to James' son who was just drafted to the Falcons. His daughter lost her mother two years ago and he was not looking forward to the next day, Mother's Day, because of how upset his daughter would be, missing her mom. We talked about grief. I shared some of my experience. We hugged when he dropped me off.

All these beautiful stories and fascinating people. Why would anyone ever want to sit in the backseat and miss all that?


  1. It makes you think, doesn't it. Everyone has a story.

  2. People are so fascinating, I love to hear their stories.


  3. You are one of a kind, Lisa. I know you're the best passenger ever, and those drivers pulled away from the curb with their faith in humanity restored. :)


  4. Thank you for this. Read Kevin Fisher-Paulson in the San Francisco Chronicle, you both can make me smile and cry in the same paragraph!~Cindy Mann