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The Beat of Laurel: Every ride’s a short story

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Posted on: August 10, 2023

By Bob Reilly

For the past seven-plus years, one of my regular activities has been driving for Lyft; I’ve also driven for Uber during these years. Both are rideshare companies and use an app to process ride requests and payments, and for most communications.

Many users simply take using the app for granted, although I am still awestruck by the technology. With a few taps on their mobile phone, a person can arrange a pickup and drop-off for themselves or another person, follow the progress of the driver through a GPS screen, communicate with the driver prior to pickup and even share the ride details with other people not physically on the ride itself.

What many app users and riders do not see, however, is the main reason I continue to be a rideshare driver: stories. I am always inspired by the drivers and riders I spend time with and their personal life stories.

Their stories are my writing treasures.

As a writer, I am rarely disappointed in finding subject matter through meeting strangers from many places around the world and having a brief relationship as we move together through time and space in a little box on 4-wheels.These experiences offer me creative expression and inspiration on so many levels. Always learning, stretching and growing. I had a book published recently, Rideshare with Robert, about my life-transforming rideshare journey of seven years — 25,000 rides and time in my car with approximately 34,000 people.

Below, I will share a story about another rideshare driver.

I regularly introduce myself to other rideshare drivers in between my rides, but I obtain most stories about other drivers from my rider clients. During one ride out of Laurel, I asked a seasoned rider if she had any notable memories of any rideshare drivers over the years.

She paused and told me about a recent ride where she was moved to tears.

The woman was getting ready for work, grabbed her phone, and requested a rideshare pickup. The driver was less than five minutes away. She hurried, ran outside and waved down the driver as he arrived. She was happily greeted by a young Hispanic man. They immediately hit it off, and she had the opportunity to practice some of her limited Spanish during their 20-minute ride. The time flew by quickly, punctuated by many light moments of laughter. As they got closer to her destination, the man divulged some devastating news. The previous day his family was displaced due to a fire where he was living. Being new to our country, he was especially challenged to figure out what to do next. He, his wife and their three children had no place to live.

The woman rider was stunned by his story.

She asked him how he could be so spirited and encouraging to a total stranger, given all he was experiencing in his personal life

He explained that in his home country, Nicaragua, there is a popular saying, “Every pig has its Saturday.”

She didn’t understand and asked if he could explain.

The man told her that the pig lives a pretty good life. The farmer feeds the pig for years. No real demands are placed on the pig. From the pig’s perspective, life is relatively carefree.

Then, one day, the fat and happy pig realizes it’s Saturday, also known as Slaughter Day.

With this story in mind, the man went on to say that life was good until the day of his apartment fire. He and his family were healthy and happy. Things were falling into place. Then, suddenly, his own Saturday arrived.

The woman relating this story to me was amazed by how the driver was coping under such extreme circumstances. She said that seeing how pragmatic and calm he was in accepting his fate was inspiring — he knew with certainty that life would get better again. And likely, there would be another Saturday in his future.

In my research, I found this same Nicaraguan colloquialism about Saturday is part of the culture in other countries as well, such as Venezuela and Spain.

 I am always amazed at the creatively surprising ways people process adversity when it shows up on their doorstep, those moments when a person realizes that they are at the mercy of their circumstances. I often ask, “How are you getting through this situation? How are you holding up?”

Many say  they’re leaning on their faith. Others simply plan to gut it out. Still, others share a range of ways in which they process their fate, such as the driver in this story.

I was moved by my passender’s story of that driver, and I hope it touched you, too.  

One thing’s for sure, we will all experience Saturdays in our lives, so hope for the best and be ready for the worst.

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