For me, driving at night is not fun because the glare of the headlights blind me and the darkness is intense. I started using the Uber app almost 5 years ago and not only has it completely cut all chances of getting a DUI and harming others on the road, but the handy app has been a big help with my night driving. Uber isn’t exactly cheap but if smoke-free comfort and not getting a DUI are priorities when you travel, it’s a great option. Also knowing ahead of time how much the ride will cost and having an approximate time of arrival are features that attract so many to use Uber, Lyft, See Jane Go, etc.
Recently, when my cousin Pauline came to visit me, she planned to use Uber from the airport and when she went to and from the convention center each day for a three-day work conference. It would be easy to click on the Uber app especially since her company was allowing her to expense the commute trips. As a thoughtful pinch, I arranged it so that I was able to drive her wherever she needed to go while she was visiting. It gave us time to catch up. On one drive, I learned that her boyfriend was more than just some guy she dates and on another drive I learned that we didn’t follow the same political party. I also took the opportunity on these drives to share stories about my son because she is his Godmother. I’m so glad we go to know each other better during her visit and it’s all because she didn’t get a ride from a total stranger each time she traveled to the conference.
Coincidentally, that same weekend, my other cousin came for a visit. This cousin never needed to use the Uber app before and it took EVERYTHING I had not to abandon my previous plans and just go pick her up from the airport. However in the end, I felt that in order to maximize the time I got to spend with my cousins, she needed to download the app and take an Uber from the airport. Because my cousin did this: 1) it saved someone from having to navigate a round trip drive during heavy rain in order to pick her up, 2) I was able to give my brother-in-law John, who was also visiting, a ride to his dinner event therefore saving him from having to take an expensive Uber ride and 3) I was able to enjoy some time at my friend’s 40th birthday party while she got settled after her flight. These are three HUGE reasons why our night ran smoothly and we were able to enjoy it. Thank you for the thoughtful pinch Jay-Jay!
A week or two before all these visitors came to see us, my car had to go to the repair shop. To save money, I opted to use my hub’s car instead of renting one so that I can run the errands and take the kids to their daily activities. In order to use his car, I needed to take him to work at 515am and pick him up at 9pm. My car was scheduled to be finished in six days so I braced myself for this grueling schedule. I decided that instead of dreading these early/late hours, I would take the opportunity to just be with the hub for these short commutes. I knew he wasn’t a morning person but that was ok - I didn’t expect to have conversations. I just liked being with him because our schedules never allow for this extra time together. My car repair actually finished in three days instead of six and I have to admit, I was kind of bummed. I really liked starting and ending our days together.
For the record, I was not always a saint about driving people around. In fact, I would even go so far to say that I HATED driving so much that I was motivated to make a bunch of money just so that I could hire a full time driver. I was a total whiner about schlepping my kids around and it was a real drag. But something happened and it changed the way I looked at driving…
Last year, the hub and I decided to enroll our son in hockey “school” Monday thru Thursday from 4-520p every week (minus a few for holidays) from September to May. I knew my life was going to change from being a normal busy mom to being an Uber driver for my kids. Getting to hockey school is a huge production because it entails being in the carpool lane almost 40 minutes early so that he’s one of the first to be picked up, feeding him his snack in the car and getting him dressed in less than 15 minutes so that he’s on the ice by 4p. One day my son forgot his skates at school because he had a skating unit for PE and left his skates in his cubby. We didn’t realize he forgot them until we were already at the hockey rink. I yelled at my son so much, I thought my lungs were going to pop out of my throat. I got back in the car cursing all the way as I fought traffic to get back to the school. On the car ride back I calmed down and came to my senses. He was only eight years old, this *&^% happens and besides, it was probably more my fault than his. I was ready to apologize to him but when I walked into the locker room and found out that he hadn’t even started dressing, I yelled at him all over again as if he was the worst kid in the world. Mother of the Year Award. From that exact day I made it a point that I better start enjoying all this driving around or else it was going to be a long, miserable eight years for me.
My mental “gear shift” has been so powerful. Instead of thinking of all the things I could be doing besides being an unpaid Uber driver, I think about how lucky we are to have a safe car to drive. I think about how fortunate I am that I have the time to drive my kids and guests around. I am grateful that we are able to afford the activities that keep my kids healthy and happy. I’m excited that we have family and friends that take time out to come visit us, especially if it’s cold. And most importantly, I see the time we have in the car together as a blessing.
I do realize that if you live in So Cal offering to drive visitors to/from LAX airport is like offering to give them the moon and some people would rather stick needles in their eyes than to make that drive during rush hour (which is 24 hrs a day). If you do decide to make such offers, know that giving someone a ride is a thoughtful pinch. Not only do you save them money but you get to spend time together too.
I’d be lying if I told you that driving is zen for me these days. My family still has a stressful time getting into the car EVERY SINGLE DAY and the sibling fights while we’re in the car are still ABUNDANT. But I wouldn’t trade my Uber day job for anything in the world. Well, unless of course we could afford to hire a full time driver. Then in that case, I’d just come along for the ride.