fueled by the ride

Professional drivers are incredible conversationalists, fueled by brief and amazing human interactions.

Professional drivers are incredible conversationalists, fueled by brief and amazing human interactions.

If you regularly hail taxis or use your smartphone to request a lift through a rideshare app, you know some drivers can be fantastically talkative. Some of you reading this right now might be thinking

”that’s pretty much my worst nightmare.” But others know what’s up. Conversations run the gamut, from sports, music and movies, to politics, relationships and whether you should use propane or

charcoal to grill. Whatever’s on your mind, they’ll probably have an opinion. And because they don’t know you, their take could be harsh — or hilarious. Worth hearing either way, right?

At the very least, maybe you’ll have a good laugh. At best, these very human moments can be downright elucidating, helping shape our understanding of others and ourselves. That’s deep. All inside a

10- to 20-minute ride. Incredible.

Fueled By spoke with three professional drivers about the conversational side of their work. They say they’re fueled by the experience of meeting new people, exchanging ideas and sharing stories.

More literally speaking, they also say they’re fueled by good old Unleaded 89 gasoline.

Let’s take a ride with ...

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Christine M.

Do you talk with your passengers?

I’m the kind of person who can’t walk past someone without saying hello. If you look at me, I feel obligated to greet you. I just love learning about people and having an opportunity to impact their

day, even with something as small as a smile. Having guests in my car fascinates me. The range of stories, personalities and experiences I hear about — even during quick rides — are so interesting.

Tell us about one of your more memorable experiences:

I picked up a passenger from his brother’s house and drove him to the restaurant where he works. It was a longer than average trip, and we talked about being from Michigan the entire time. I told him

how much I love Hani’s (a fried chicken-strip pita sandwich), and how it’s one of my favorite regional foods. When we got to the restaurant, he told me to wait in my car. After a few minutes, he came

out and the sweetheart tipped me with a Hani! I was so shocked and grateful and will never forget that.

What have you learned about people while doing this job?

I have learned that people really open up when you give them a ride. A polite “how are you today?” and BAM! Whether I’m driving a couple to a nice dinner or picking someone up from a long day at

the office, a few kind words can get you a great personal story and sometimes even a delicious tip!

What are you fueled by?

I am inspired by human connection. Life is so fast-paced and hectic, not many people take time to just chat these days. Think about when you’re out shopping or at a restaurant or anywhere in public

— everyone is either on a mission or stuck emailing or texting on their phones. When I drive, I get a chance to really connect with people.

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Greg M.

Do you talk with your passengers?

I only like to talk to the passengers if they’re talkative. Trying to force conversation on people zoned into their phones can be painful. But if they’re chatty, I love learning their stories. I think there’s

good in everyone, and usually it’s easy to find it in a short conversation. I can usually learn something.

What have you learned about people, doing this job?

I’ve learned people are generally good, eager to talk about their passions and more open to talk about personal issues with strangers than they are with friends. I’ve learned that people are easy to

root for.

What are you fueled by?

I’m fueled by people who work together to serve others who have hit their rock bottom.

I’m also inspired by creative entrepreneurs and selfless philanthropy.

I always love musicians — and hippies!
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Coko B.

Do you talk with your passengers?

I like taking with people about concerts and other kinds of music events. Normally, that is when I find a commonality with a passenger — talking about music or the arts.

Any memorable rides lately?

I met a couple who was going to a concert and the man was so full of musical history, I was just enthralled in the conversation. I was actually sad when they had to get out. I always love musicians —

and hippies!

What have you learned about people doing this job?

People are people. Some are easy to please. Some people are just jerks. But driving, you get out what you put into it. If you drive, make it a memorable experience! I am mindful what music I play, I

make sure I do not discuss politics or religion at all costs. I have also realized that as long as soul music is playing, most people are pretty pleasant on your ride.

What are you fueled by?

I needed extra cash and was driven to do something easy because I am going to university and working a full-time gig as a singer. I’m also raising a grandchild. Sometimes, it’s the perfect escape. But I

also like transporting people to work because I want to see people win. So when I am driving, I am helping people make it through their day. I am happy I am able to do something to help someone —

and the money is not bad either!