In my current multi-city adventures in North America, I meet a lot of Uber drivers. Some are nicer than others, some cars are cleaner than others. After a ride is completed, you rate the driver (and they rate you), and there is an option for a tip. My general rule is if they get out of their cars and help me put my bags in their trunk, they get a tip. Many do not.
In southern Florida, I left a hotel from a conference, had a quick local stop to pick up a pair of shoes that needed repairing (try doing that on the road!), and then a longer drive to another city to give a talk. My Uber arrived, he jumped out, and with a greeting and a smile, immediately put my bags in the back of his car.
I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated it. He was shocked to hear that not all drivers did that. So I asked him if he wanted to wait while I picked up my shoes and then receive a longer fare to the next city stop. He was happy to oblige.
And so it was that we talked and got to know each other.
Turns out that he had three children with a woman he did not marry, and they went their separate ways. He sees his kids on a regular basis and is now with another woman who he seems to love. She has a child from a previous relationship.
He had a cross hanging from his rearview mirror, so I started to turn the conversation to values.
He told me that when his family immigrated to the United States, he did not speak English, struggled in school, and was held back in fifth grade. His English was excellent so I asked him what was the turning point? He said the next fifth-grade teacher he got was a Jewish woman, Mrs. Schwartz, who was loving and patient and taught him to believe in himself and he was able to pick up the language.
I asked him if he ever got in touch with her to thank her. He said, no, and realized how awesome it would be if he did.
He also spoke lovingly of his maternal grandmother who was a staunch believer in G-d and traditional in her values.
By this time we were bonding, so I asked him why he never married the mother of his children and why he is not marrying the woman he is with now. He said he always felt that “it was just a piece of paper”.
“You know it’s not just a piece of paper,” I said.
He said he knew.
And then I asked, “Would you want your daughters to grow up and be with men who would not commit to them like that?”
He was silent. “No,” he answered. “I would not.”
At the end of the ride, I gave him two pieces of homework: 1) Find Mrs. Schwartz and thank her; 2) If you love the woman you are with, go get a ring and get down on one knee.
“Be the good man that you are and do the right thing.”
As he was taking my bags out of the car he said, “My girlfriend told me this morning that this was going to be a very good day.”
I gave him five stars and a tip.
As our eyes and ears remain glued to the news, our thoughts turn to our Momentum sisters, their families, and the entire Jewish community in Ukraine. Our partners in Ukraine, the Chabad Kolel Torah Network, and the Jewish Agency for Israel are accepting donations to get assistance to those in need. We have readapted our Care with a Prayer site for the people of Ukraine. Join Momentum in supporting our sisters, their families, and the entire Jewish community in Ukraine. Your prayers can make a world of difference.