driver-and-dashboardYou know how when we used to take cabs and you’d never make eye contact with the driver let alone have a conversation with them. I’m not sure what’s changed in the transition to Uber, but I’ve noticed that in virtually every ride I’ve taken via Uber, I find myself having fascinating conversations with the drivers. Maybe it’s just me, but the ones I’ve had rides with inevitably have surprisingly interesting stories and backgrounds. It’s easy enough to hide behind your smartphone and detach, but I’ve come to enjoy engaging with my driver more often than not. 

On my Uber ride to the airport yesterday heading out of LA back to Silicon Valley, I had a driver that had been a talented cinematographer in Brazil; he was a young guy (maybe mid-20s), but had started his craft early. He and his partner wound up selling a film they had made to Richard Branson and from there got Morgan Freeman on board. That’s pretty impressive, especially given the circumstances! He also worked on a number of impressive ad campaigns, and other high profile successful projects.

However, this guy had effectively given up on his film career when he re-located to Los Angeles because he felt the egos were more than he wanted to deal with and he was having trouble getting an agent to back him. So he’s now taking courses in computer science and considering shifting gears.

During our relatively brief ride to the airport, we had a great conversation about all of this. I could tell this guy was talented, hardworking and seriously committed to having a life that matters. I attempted to bolster his confidence and encouraged him to consider pursuing his passion in film despite the odds — given he’s already got more advantages and a solid track record than most at his age. I don’t know what he’ll wind up doing, but it was a meaningful conversation and I hope I was able to offer some reinforcement and encouragement that may have made a difference in this young man’s life.

You never know what can come out of a casual conversation with a stranger; consider giving it a try the next time you’re on an Uber ride (or Lyft for that matter). Extend some kindness and a friendly ear. It may just make your day — and theirs!

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