I was lucky enough to be able to spend last weekend in Chicago, and it was an amazing experience. I was all on my own and I got to explore the city uninhibited, I met amazing people, and I went on my very first ‘big girl adventure’ and I now anticipate many more! Over the course of my stay I was shuttling back and forth between the city and my cousin’s apartment right outside DePaul University. It was too far to walk, so I relied on Uber, a taxi-ing service that is much cheaper and more convenient than your typical taxi. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post, I am just a huge Uber fan! If you are interested in signing up for Uber, you can do so here, and your first ride is free! You download the app and then set a location and it picks you up right at your door and drops you off exactly where you need to be.
But I’m getting overly excited, and gushing over Uber is not what this post is supposed to be about. It may seem odd, but I’m dedicating this post on the justification on why I sit in the front of Ubers, and why I think everybody else should, too. I had more anxiety over where to sit than I care to admit waiting for my first Uber to arrive, and ultimately decided on sitting in the front.
And am I ever glad I did, my first driver was great and we talked like old friends, he was older and it turned out he has two sons that go to the same University as I do. We were able to chat about campus, my major, and the city on the way to Derek’s apartment, and it kept me from sitting in awkward silence in the back seat during the fifteen minute drive.
And the weird thing is, as I was getting out he thanked me for sitting in the front. And that became a common theme: I rode seven Ubers and four different drivers thanked me for sitting and conversing with them.
As I got in my sixth Uber of the weekend, my driver gave me a weak smile and said he was ‘hanging in there’ when I asked him how he was doing. I chattered away, trying to cheer him up, as it was clear that he was either anguished or exhausted. About two minutes in he broke down and blurted out, “My wife left me.” You might be thinking, “That’s super awkward” and you’d be right, it was. But the fact that he told that to me, a complete stranger, meant he obviously needed someone to talk to. And as uncomfortable as I was in that moment, and even long after I got out of the cab, I am happy out of everyone who got into his car that day, he had at least one person he was able to talk to.
Uber drivers see tons of people everyday, but I was left wondering how many of those people actually interact with them. Based on the appreciation the Uber drivers gave me for talking with them and sitting up front, my guess is not many. In today’s world it is easy to bury your nose in your phone and ignore those around you, and I genuinely believe that that’s a serious problem with society and that must change. Human communication is so important and enriching, yet so many people tend to avoid it at all costs or are simply too involved with the cyberworld to put much effort in engaging with the real world.
I used to think I was socially awkward, then I came to the conclusion that I actually just suffered from minor social anxiety (and a little awkwardness – hey, I’m human!), so for the past few months I’ve really been trying to go out of my way to talk to everyone who seems open to it. Despite the fact that a lot of people don’t, there are a ton of people who are and who have made boring train rides, lonely meals, and yes, even Uber rides a lot more interesting.
I will continue to sit in the front of Uber taxis whenever I am in the city (and I hope that’s often!) because I believe the barrier between the front and back seat inhibits any ability to make a connection. With the loss of eye contact, closeness, and the appearance of being open to chat, I fear that the back seat would make for quiet, lonesome rides.
When you take and Uber or a cab, where do you sit?