Can you remember a time before cell phones? All conversations you had were in the privacy of your own home, which posed a problem for some people after they made the switch. For a while, you could be walking down the street and overhear someone’s private conversation about an STD or a cheating husband or their roommate’s incontinence.
Eventually, people realized where to draw the line. The next learning curve seems to be happening with the way people talk to an Uber or Lyft driver. With taxi drivers, you often would never exchange a word with them unless you needed a recommendation in the city or wanted to know how long it would take to get to the airport the next day at 7pm. Nowadays, when people use a rideshare service for the first time, they feel compelled to talk to the driver, sometimes with great self awareness and other times without it.
But where does one draw the line between small talk and getting too personal? Is it about sex? Or money? Is it religion? All of these can cross a line, but these days, the biggest one seems to be politics. Shocker!
The week of the election, you know – THAT election, proved to be a difficult one for me. I’m a Democrat, and I live in LA so it’s pretty easy to know my audience, and pretty easy for my customers to know theirs. But it didn’t stop a lot of people that week from trying to get me to listen to their views on how we should give the new President a chance.
So after a week of having some terrible people in and out of the car, I had had enough. It was hard enough for me to simply go through life at that point, knowing the impending removal of the rights of myself and my friends. But I reached a boiling point, where I was picking someone up at the airport and it was going to be my last ride of the day, no matter how far from home it would take me.
So a woman gets in the car, and I’m downright miserable. She’s alone, and needs help with her luggage, and I’m immediately thinking, of course she does! Ugh! I get out and help her, and she sweetly says, “Thanks. Oh, I love your shoes!” and I angrily think, Yeah, me too, lady! That’s why I bought them! Ugh! But within a few minutes, her kindness makes me realize I’m being a baby. I need to open up and accept the positivity she’s putting out there.
So we start talking, and she says she’s never been to California before. I immediately inquire as to what brought her here. Work? Vacation? Family? She tells me hesitantly that she’s done with work for a while and needs a vacation. Don’t we all, honey. It’s been a week.
She tells me she’s from Arizona originally but has been traveling a lot for work for the past year, year and a half. It’s kept her mainly in New York but she’s really been all over the place.
“What kind of work do you do?”
She pauses, with her eyes closed. I wasn’t sure if she was in extreme pain, or was tired of explaining her job to people, or both, but she was bracing herself for something.
“I was a… campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.”
I’m immediately both speechless and ugly crying. I tried to get words out about how I wasn’t supposed to cry today and she said, “Listen, I’m there with you but I just don’t have any more tears to cry. I’m hitting the reset button and then turning this into power and change. In the meantime, I wanna see my family, I wanna see the ocean, and god damn it, I want to see a celebrity!”
I told her she’s got quite a lot of that accomplished already. “You’re staying with family. Check. I don’t know if you know where they live, but they’ve done quite well for themselves. Two blocks in from Ocean Avenue. So, I think we can check the ocean off of your list too. Celebrities are hard to spot in Santa Monica, though. You usually have to go up to Malibu, but they’re hidden either in private beaches or in giant sunglasses and hats. Take a day and head inland to Beverly Hills, you’ll see somebody.”
We reach her destination and I get out to help her with luggage because, as you may remember, I am a nice person. She gives me a huge hug and tells me we’re going to get through this together. I’ll be honest, I needed that hug more than ever.
Just then I notice something in front of my car. Someone is crossing the street to go into their car. I recognize the woman immediately but play it coy. I put my finger over my mouth so my customer would know to be quiet, and I motioned toward the woman in front of us, and she just couldn’t keep a secret. She starts screaming, “JULIANNE MOORE!!! OMG!!!! IT’S JULIANNE MOORE!!!”
If it’s 1% of payback for all the hard work and heartbreak she’s gone through, she checked everything off of her vacation bucket list in the first hour after landing in LA. I’m sure she’s turned that pain into power by now. (For the record, I’m not there yet.)