In Uber Veritas

In Danish we have a saying: “From children and drunks you will hear the truth”. Without any filter these two groups will honestly tell you your opinion about anything from your cooking skills till your clothing style. However after recently moving to SF, finishing PhD and having a lot of open choices to make I have found it useful to change the saying to: “From Children and Uber drivers you will hear the truth” (In Vino Veritas is the Latin version) since I often get it into quite serious chats with the person who takes me from A to B with the Uber Service. As a short term and (much cheaper) therapist:).

The fact the uber driver is driving Uber/Lyft you immediately assume they have some other passion in life they are working on, but are not quite there to fully sustain themselfs yet. I know it is a bit prejudice to think normal cab drivers does not have hobbies or passions besides driving a cap but somehow it feels more natural to me to ask an uber driver: “So what do you do?” than a regular taxi driver.

Once I met Syed. This was on my way home from a Lindy Hop party so the conversation started around dance and music. It turned out Syed was a teacher in traditional Hindi/Bollywood singing so besides Uber driving he taught and performed traditional Hindi song. Even more awesome he gave me an example by singing in the car for me. So suddenly out of nowhere I found myself cruising the dark streets of SF on my way home with a live performance of an Indian Bollywood song – How cool was that?

Besides passions and dreams it seams like the short and non-commiting period of time during an uber drive allows for more serious talks on life.

How did I end up here? When did the driver move to the US? What is it like here in Trump times and all? I found it very helpful to talk to drivers not from the US about homesickness, visas, values in life etc. Very inspiring and also mind broadening. Often some of my concerns about living in the US far away from family and friends take up less mental space after having a nice Uber talk with another human being facing some of the same challenges.

Really I find one of the less described advantages of the digitized world with Uber, AirBnB, Etzy, and other platforms allowing individual people to monetize in bigger systems to be the facilitation of meetings between normal everyday people, which roads otherwise would never have crossed. Think about it – AirBnB thrives on “normal” peoples willingness to enter each other’s lifes by living in someone’s private home.

So eventhough there are a lot of critism on our connected world with smartphones, social media addiction and more there is also another side of the story… Tell me; what was the last topic you discussed with your uber driver?