Bryan Schaaf: Rideshare Diaries


 Why Rideshare Diaries?


Bryan Schaaf works in international affairs and is always interested in meeting and learning from people with different cultural backgrounds. As the reliability and safety of the metro in Washington DC continues to decline, he and many others have switched to ridesharing with Uber and Lyft. One of the unanticipated benefits of doing so were the many interesting (and often entertaining) discussions with drivers while ride-sharing to or from work.  Whereas full-time taxi drivers were understandably “talked out” most of the time, part-timers who drove for Uber or Lyft were more than happy to pass the time with a good conversation.

Because Bryan has a background in international affairs, he is very interested in the experiences of drivers who have immigrated from other countries. One of his most memorable experiences was riding with a Uyghur student who had immigrated to the United States.  Bryan had only ever met one Uyghur before and it was in a work context, as Uyghurs struggle with religious persecution and repression in China. Speaking with the driver, Bryan learned a great deal from the driver’s personal experiences. He also learned that his driver was not only driving to make extra money– he had taken the job primarily to improve his conversational English!

Another one of Bryan Schaaf’s favorite Uber experiences was when he rode with a Haitian driver. Bryan runs Haiti Innovation, a nonprofit blog and consultancy.  He also lived in Haiti for three years, so there was much to talk about.  The two discussed life in Haiti all the way back home, and Bryan had a chance to catch up on recent events there.


No two people will have the same ride-sharing experience, and the rise of Uber and Lyft has provided a new common ground where people from all kinds of backgrounds can connect.  The purposes of this website is to document some of these conversations and connection.

Want to contribute? Submit your own Rideshare Diaries experience via the Submissions page!