Driving and Listening
I recently rode with Michelle (not real name) who was born and raised in Washington DC. Michelle gets people to where they need to go and, in the process, finds herself listening a lot and even offering a bit of advice. Sometimes a person needs someone to talk to whether that be a friend, a family member, or a driver.
Bryan: Any strange experiences as a driver?
Michelle: There have been a few. A woman got in the back of my car once, opened up her purse and started talking into it. I noticed a bad smell. She kept saying “Don’t worry Billy. We’ll be fine.” And then she asked if I could drive more slowly because I was bothering Billy. Turns out Billy was her hamster and she takes it everywhere in her purse. She talked to Billy for most of the ride.
Bryan: Do people give you advance notice when they have animals?
Michelle: They should. If someone has a service animal, that’s no problem. They need to have their animal with them and I understand that. It’s different though when someone wants to get in the car with an enormous slobbery dog and they didn’t tell me first. I refuse to take large dogs and people get angry about that. But I paid for this car and I need to keep it from being damaged.
Bryan: Do you think people treat you differently because you are a female driver?
Michelle: I think they feel like they can talk to me – especially other women. Conversation gets really deep in this car. People tell me all sorts of things. You’d be surprised. They tell me about their problems, their sex lives, sometimes with a lot of details. A recent passenger was telling me all about how she had just been caught cheating on her boyfriend.
Bryan: People feel comfortable talking to you.
Michelle: Yes, they definitely do. Even when I go out, people like to talk to me about their problems. I think it is my energy. The drivers who have the strangest stories though seem to be the ones who work late at night. Being a female driver, I wrap it up before midnight.
Bryan: That makes sense. Do you get a lot of intoxicated passengers?
Michelle: Sure, but I don’t have any issues with them. Sometimes I put the radio up real loud and we all do karaoke together. Drunk people like that.
Bryan: You grew up in Washington DC?
Michelle: I did. It’s changed a lot. Sometimes I feel like I hardly recognize the city. It keeps growing and growing. It has already lost a lot of authenticity.
Bryan: I have this same conversation with my friends from Baltimore. Baltimore has lots of character but no growth. In Washington DC, we have lots of growth but are losing the character. It’s cleaner and safer now but the city is so expensive compared to the way it used to be. It almost feels exclusive.
Michelle: High end condos everywhere, right? I’m thinking about moving to Chicago. I’ve got friends there and I’m seriously considering it.
Bryan: Ever been there in the winter?
Michelle: That’s the only reason I haven’t moved there already. I hear Chicago is even colder than New York City. I’m not sure if I can handle those winters or not. I’m going to visit soon and maybe then I’ll decide.