Who helps give your wisdom a Lyft?

Teachers. Parents. Your favorite podcasters.  Yeah, they have a lot of good advice to share about how to live your life.  But you know what?

Lyft drivers have a lot of wisdom to share too.

I know, I know.  Sometimes you just want to get in the car and get where you are going. But for me, these rideshares are more than just a means to get from point A to point B. They are an opportunity to get to the point of it all… human connection.

Don’t believe me?  Let me share an example that will help change your mind.

Last week, while I was working on the launch of Optimistic Labs in Los Angeles, I used Lyft to get around town. Given the hellish traffic in the city of angels, that meant each day I spent lots of time with some interesting drivers from some pretty diverse backgrounds.

In particular, last Thursday morning I was picked up by Roberto (his actual name is used to honor the wise).  Despite my natural instinct to put my headphones on and take thirty minutes to zone out while braving the LA morning traffic, I decided to take a moment to comment on the what a beautiful day it was. This led to us having a bit of conversation about the (awesome) weather in southern California and the (not so awesome) traffic in LA.

Then we got to the good stuff. I learned that Roberto had immigrated from El Salvador thirteen years ago with his mother and sister, and he was granted asylum (because of the conflict consuming his home country and the violence in his home city of San Salvador). He is currently raising his four-month old daughter with his girlfriend who runs a nail salon in downtown LA.  And in between rides that help pay the bills, raising his daughter, and thinking about a career in computer programming or graphic design, Roberto (who was raised Catholic) studies kabbalah because it helps him open his mind and his heart.

Amazing story, right?

But it gets better. Throughout the conversation, Roberto dropped knowledge bombs left and right. He talked about how much he appreciates being in the United States even though there is some crazy stuff going on that can make people like him feel unwelcome in the land of the free. It is complicated stuff,  but Roberto’s simple answer to why immigrants from war-torn countries want to come to the US cut through the complexity and made it real: “because we don’t want to fucking die, man.”

He shared with me that while he might not have everything he wants, he focuses on being grateful for what he has. And perhaps most poignantly, he said that all he wants to do for his baby daughter is to help open her eyes to the world so she can be happy. Roberto said that even though he might not be able to fix the “big things” in the world, he appreciates the good he can contribute by raising his daughter with understanding and joy.

Roberto made it sound like a small thing. But that seems like a big thing to me.

As I got out of the car, I thought to myself: what if we all had more conversations with people like Roberto? What if we all benefited from learning from the people we encounter, but don’t always engage? Would we be smarter? Wiser? More empathetic to the stories, challenges and blessings of others?

I think so.

Not every ride is ripe for a conversation. I get that. And not all of us enjoy talking to random strangers. But next time you get in a rideshare, consider doing more than sharing the miles. Consider sharing a conversation. Ask a question. Listen to a perspective. Share a laugh.

Sure, you will get to your requested destination regardless of whether you do or don’t. But if you do, you might also get to an unexpected place of insight, shared consciousness and even a dose of wisdom.

And that’s something than can help Lyft, I mean lift, all of us up together.