One's attitude, one's mindset, can make all the difference.
I wrote this essay some time ago. This version is edited for clarity and literary power. My relationship with my car, with driving, and with the company for whom I drive have all, I am pleased to say, improved markedly since this writing. And I regularly make more money. I suggest to you, dear reader, that my current better experience was, in no small measure, put into motion by the shift in attitude I characterize and talk about in the essay below.
One Friday, after a productive morning and early afternoon, I got into my car. I had had a great day up to that point and wanted, very much, the feeling, the success, of the first half of my day to continue into the second. I made a conscious decision to have a positive attitude for what laid ahead. The problem was with what was ahead of me: driving.
Driving is not naturally fun for me. I can do it fine but, if I had my way, I would rather drive only a little, and only go where I want to go. Therein lies the problem. You see, I drive, part-time, for a Transportation Network Company. Let's call the company I work for Lyuberdidi. It is one of those services where riders request a ride on a phone app and, like magic, a car and driver appear, ready to take the rider to his/ her/ their destination for a very reasonable rate. I am one such driver. I am not every day thrilled about it. It is not that the company is horrendous or the work too demanding; the riders are fine and sometimes great. But the driving...
Also, I do not make a lot of money doing it. It typically takes me three nights of driving four to five hours to gross the $114 required for the car's weekly lease payments. The particular week in question I needed to make all the money in only two nights. I set my goal for that Friday at $60. It was doable. It was also, for me at the time, ambitious: perhaps only five times in the nine months I had been driving had I taken in $60 or more in a single night.
From my life experience, I know that a good attitude is important. Over the years, by hook and crook, through good, unexciting, and/ or sometimes difficult times, I have built a generally positive mindset. I tell myself that God/ Source/ Universe, That Which Is, Life, (however you want to call it), is for me. I have told myself it often enough, when in receptive moods, that I believe it.
Not always do I remember to have a good attitude. As well, sometimes I am dead set against feeling and living better. Those are times of poor, poor, pitiful me.
One of the other things I have learned to the point of knowing is that I am an active participant in nearly all the good that I experience. Sometimes good falls from the heavens. I am happy when it does. But, usually, I have to actively decide to create good, or allow good to be. At the very least, I have to show up, physically and/ or mentally, for me to be aware of good happening.
I got ready for a good late afternoon and evening on that Friday. I got ready in my mind, and I got ready by my actions. I filled the gas tank. Vacuumed the car. Opened the app, and started driving at 4:50pm.
I voiced my desire for $60 aloud when alone in the car. No one else was listening, or needed to. I asked the Universe for good, engaging riders. And for long trips on the highway. Long highway trips are where I make the most money, and, usually, have the best discussions.
I would rather have a good conversation with a rider than not, but I am also okay with not talking. I gauge riders at the beginning of the trip. If the rider gets into the front seat, it is a pretty good bet they want to talk. About half of my riders are interested in a conversation. I make initial queries and suggestions such as "How's your day so far?" and "What radio station would you like?" and "Tell me if you'd like a temperature change." On setting out this day, I decided not to go into stories (honest stories) about how I was making very little money driving for Lyuberdidi were I asked how it is to drive for Lyuberdidi. I find I am asked, typically, two or three times a day.
There were no philosophical discussions all that late afternoon and night. I love discussing metaphysics and the meaning of life! But the evening's drive was good nonetheless.
My first ride was the best. I picked up a couple from their home. The man and woman were going to the large casino in the town adjacent to mine. Along the drive I found out from the man about the use of water-based paints versus solvent-based paints in auto body repair. Temperature, it turns out, makes a big difference. He works in a "tin box," as he calls it, a building without air conditioning. (It was summertime and hot.) There is no AC because the paint needs to dry. Two weeks previous, the temperature had gotten to 104F.
It was, honestly, interesting stuff. I found out there are different regulations for Sacramento and Placer Counties but why? (I live in Placer County; Sacramento County is next door, to the southwest.) We speculated. There are so many intriguing tidbits in every job done well.
I was then asked, after a brief discussion about music, about where I was from, how I got to Rocklin, etc. I abbreviated my story. Refrained from telling a tale of woe.
"It's tough," he said afterward. His response surprise me. I had not made my story a heroic or pity-me one, just gone over some basic facts of the previous few years, and in a lighthearted manner. On thinking about his comment briefly, very briefly, I realised it had been kinda tough. My life was a bit tough. Life itself is tough, sometimes.
But the words that came out of me, almost immediately: "Yeah, it's tough. But talking about it does no good. It just makes it tougher still." He nodded in agreement. "We live better than kings did a hundred years ago in many ways," I added. He said, "Even fifty."
I felt not discouraged but encouraged from the "tough" remark. Yes, life is tough. Sometimes. But so what? Am I going to let circumstance get me down? Is not every situation a chance to know ourselves and the Universe better?
Life is tough, sometimes. It is also good.
So good to concentrate on the good.
A few minutes later, at the end of the 13 minute, 5.5 mile ride ($5.77 for my portion of the fare), after his partner but before he got out, he touched my shoulder and said something. Something simple like "Have a good day, man." Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he handed me a five dollar bill and got out. A tip.
I felt respected, alive, useful, appreciated. All from a thirteen minute conversation and a thoughtful five dollar tip.
I had longer drives and lengthier conversations that day but this was the largest tip and the most meaningful talk. (I received two more tips: one in the form of medium French fries, they coming from a self-proclaimed Libertarian who worked at a school, the second, $2 cash. That money came after a short $3.17 trip from a black t-shirted-and-shorted young guy maybe twenty-two years old. He smelled of tobacco and had shoulder-length black hair.)
At around 9:15pm, I called it a night. $68.51 later, not including the $7 in tips. $8.51 over the goal!
Attitude makes a huge difference. Sometimes, the difference.
The next day, I easily made $45. Made the goal for the week. Was home before ten.
Do I think, or guarantee, that having an optimistic attitude will always and/ or immediately lead to wanted ends? No. But I can tell you, dear reader, this: having a positive, good-expecting attitude increases the possibility of experiencing a better life.
a LukeyoutheU essay
Marylander by birth
Californian since 1993
about Jake Knight