The Power of People

Opinions, Public Relations, Uncategorized Posted Aug 28, 2015 by Liza Vilnits

As a strong supporter and frequent user of Uber, earlier this week I decided to give their new feature uberPOOL a try.

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Within four minutes of clicking the request button, a jolly and smiling man in a Chevrolet Equinox arrived. While juggling my purse and grocery bags, I plopped in the front, having already seen two passengers sitting in the back. I was greeted by Elaine, a Harvard grad student and Laura, her friend visiting from Illinois. My driver’s name was Garry (with two R’s, which I remembered because that’s how my brother spells his name) and by his expression and tone, he seemed quite excited to be picking up another rider, as were the girls. It was actually everyone’s first uberPool experience which I felt was probably the reason behind Garry’s enthusiasm, but I quickly found out that he was naturally just a people-person, and a passionate one at that.

Garry shared that his name is French and the R’s must be pronounced with that raspy tone that comes from the throat. His thick but beautiful accent immediately gave away that he didn’t grow up in this country, and in recognizing that the question was coming, he told us that he’s from Haiti. Although not extremely familiar with Haiti or its people, I have learned from my Haitian landlord as well as a few other acquaintances that relationships and relationship-building are an important part of the Haitian culture, and Garry was a clear depiction of that.

He told us that he had only been an Uber driver for a week now but he absolutely loved it! He works another part-time job keeping track of inventory and is usually surrounded by boxes and supplies versus people, so being an Uber driver is almost like a treat —a way to meet new people every day. His advice: talk to 7-10 new people each day; it doesn’t matter if you never see them again because each one (aside from the negative ones who you can easily disregard) will either provide you with a smile, wisdom, a different perspective, laughter —who knows! Garry’s easy-going manner and openness allowed him to connect with anyone and everyone; with only one week of Uber driving under his belt, he had already made all kinds of silly and fun memories with his passengers.

He told me one story of a young European man who had a passion for history and politics. Their common interests and natural engagement actually prompted them to both pop out of the car once they arrived at the destination to continue the conversation, turning into a two-hour gab session over coffee. Then there was the young college student, a girl pursuing a degree in music – she and Garry spent their ride singing their original duet version of the classics from the Sound of Music, a mix of French and English. I even got a preview of Garry’s French singing, it was so soft and smooth that I couldn’t help but smile.

528484047_strangers_xlargeBefore getting into that car, I had been waiting at the pharmacy for 45 minutes and was feeling pretty cranky; I certainly wasn’t expecting my 20 minute ride to leave me feeling so inspired and reflective. As communications professionals, the importance and power of networking is something that’s been ingrained in our brains and emphasized for quite some time, but sometimes a little reminder from an unlikely new friend can go a long way. Garry reminded me that “they call it the present because every day is a gift,” appreciate each day and the people who cross your path because you never know when someone will teach you something new or challenge your thinking.