Today I took a Lyft to my destination. The young driver’s name was Alex. He was from Brazil. He was a friendly guy who liked to talk. He’d only been in the states one year, yet his English was quite good. He told me that the reason he was driving Lyft was so he could practice his English and make money at the same time. Given how much he was able to get out in the 30 minutes I had with him, I would say that he gets plenty of practice with his daily driving. As I sat there listening, I thought, wow, what a great way to learn a new language. Head to Italy, drive a Lyft in a non-touristy part of the country and learn Italian while meeting native speakers.
Turns out Alex was an ex-Navy Seal for the Brazilian Army, which would explain his strength and size. He owns a golden retriever puppy who is ‘impossible and crazy’ and has chewed threw three cell phones. We laughed and shared dog stories. He carried my golf clubs and two bags like he was lifting a tiny bag of groceries. And he offered to take them up the stairs. His kindness and enthusiasm reminded me that we are all capable of connecting with others in a meaningful way. So often we take people in the service industry and treat them with little regard, as if they aren’t worthy of our attention, and sometimes as if they aren’t even human.
I’ll see people on their phones, so preoccupied with their conversations or a game or an email that they don’t have time to even look a service person in the eye, and exchange actual words, instead pointing and directing with their fingers or eyebrows. Clearly, Alex was a person, and his idea of making human contact was beautiful. He shared his story, asked about mine, and then proceeded to offer to help in ways that were beyond my expectations. He was such a refreshing part of my day as he reminded me that we’re all the same, worthy of a smile and concern, and if we take the time to connect and care about each other, we can make a difference in each other’s lives.