Short Rides and Long Roads

March 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

I am a consumer of the shared economy.  On this morning I needed to get from our home to the crowded downtown of San Francisco; a 15-minute ride. Challenges of traffic congestion and expensive parking made hitting the app on my phone and requesting a ride an easier, simpler option than driving.

Within minutes the car appears. As is my custom, I entered by thanking the driver for picking me up and giving me a ride. That’s generally pretty much it from me until I reach my destination. My user profile would not include “she likes to chat”. But for some reason on this day I did.

It starts with the safe stuff – the weather, the crazy Super Bowl traffic, how long he’s been driving for the company, what he likes about it.  But it quickly moves to a deeper topic. He is struggling. He and his wife live in a rental unit outside the city. Their dream is to one day buy a home. But they just can’t get ahead enough financially to believe it will happen. Driving is a second job for him, he does it in hopes that it will allow them to save some money. But the dream seems elusive.  The gap between where they are and where they envision themselves seems too great.

I acknowledge the passion of his dream. The struggle to achieve our dreams is real and, for most of us, the road is long, often steep, full of twist and turns and, most assuredly, a bump or two.

I shared with him that my first house was a mobile home. We bought it for $9,000 and my grandparents co-signed the loan because we had no credit. The house that followed was an 800 square foot duplex we bought in partnership with my brother-in-law and his wife; our side was 3 bedrooms and 1 bath so you can only imagine what that was like. Both of my children were born while living there. There were years of scarcity and doing without (sometimes that meant no heat), and of making the most of what we had and being grateful for it. There were periods we had to take a step back, and a time we started all over. The house he picked me up from represents a journey of more than 30 years. It has been a long, well traveled road.

Pulling into my destination he commented that the idea of taking a “first step” made a lot of sense to him. It didn’t need to be a huge step, just a small one forward. He spoke excitedly about what that might look like. He could not wait to get home and talk with his wife.

Sometimes we let our dreams die because they feel too unobtainable. But I believe each journey starts with a first step. And perhaps a step I can take is to share a bit more of my story with others and encourage others to do the same.  Maybe we can recast the shared economy to include distancing from the Facebook facade and offering more of ourselves to others.


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