1764 words, about a 10 minute read
One's attitude, one's mindset, can make all the difference.
I wrote this essay a while ago. I am pleased to say that my relationship with my car, and with driving, have improved since. I suggest to you, dear reader, that my current better experience was, at least partly, put into motion by the shift in attitude I talk about below. It appears to be, for me, in this case of cars, an ongoing decision/ process: I am not yet, may never be, greatly fond of driving. For now, however, driving is the better thing for me to do so I am having the best mindset I can about it.
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 the day to continue into the second. I made a conscious decision to have a positive attitude for what was ahead. The problem was what was ahead: driving.
Driving is not usually that fun for me. I can do it fine, and occasionally I find it delightful. But usually not. If I had my way, I would drive little, and go only where I wanted. Therein lies the problems.
You see, I drive, part-time, for a transportation network company. For the fun of it, let us call the company I work for Lyuberdidi. It is one of those app-based services where a rider requests a ride on their smartphone: with the push of a few buttons, like magic, a car and driver appear, ready to take the rider to 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 that the work is too demanding; and the riders are fine. Sometimes they are interesting; often they are kind. But the driving itself...
Also, I do not make a lot of money doing it. I have heard of the great success stories, of people making money hand over fist driving for companies like Lyberdidi. That has not been my experience. Maybe it does happen for drivers in urban, more populous areas. (I live in the greater suburbs of Sacramento). Maybe it is because of the hours I can and choose to drive. I do not know. I do know that it typically takes me three nights of driving four to five hours to gross the $114 required for my car's weekly lease payments. That is gross pay, not net. I pay for gas, repairs, maintenance, and insurance from the money I make from my primary job. And with my time. Time is about the only thing we really have, is it not, until we no longer have it.
On the particular week in question I needed to make all the money for the week in only two driving sessions. Typically, I drive Thursday, Friday, and Saturday late afternoons and early evenings, cutting off at 8, 9, or 10pm. (Usually, I have an early start at job 1 the next day. I need my sleep. Also, if I can help it, I do not want to drive people who are drunk. I have been, in my past, a drunk person often enough to know I did not want to be around us/ them while in that state. )
That week, because of scheduling with my other job, I had to make two days work. I set my goal for that Friday at $60. It was doable, I decided. 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. I know it, know it, know it. Do I always practice it? No. Not always. But over the years, by hook and crook, through good, unexciting, and sometimes difficult times, I have built a generally positive mindset that I can tap into if I want to. I tell myself that God/ Source/ Universe, that 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.
But I do not always remember it.
And not always do I choose to consciously act on that belief when I do remember it. Sometimes I am dead set against feeling better. Those are the times of poor, poor, pitiful me. When I want to bask in feeling bad.
Fortunately, and because of how I try and often think to approach situations, these times are in the minority.
One of the other things I have learned to the point of deep knowing is that I am an active participant in nearly all the good that I experience. Sometimes good falls from the heavens, from beyond my actions or, even, rarely, seemingly despite my actions or attitude. I am happy when it does. But, usually, I have to actively decide to create good, or allow good to be, for me to experience it. At the very least, I have to show up, physically and/ or mentally even in situations I do not so much want to.
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 starting out. The windows were up and air-conditioning on: 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 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 purposefully decided not to go into stories (honest stories) about how I was making very little money driving for Lyuberdidi were I asked. I find I am asked, typically, two or three times a driving session about how it is to drive.
On this Friday, there were no philosophical discussions. How I love discussing metaphysics and the meaning of life! But the evening's drive was good nonetheless.
My first ride was the best of the bunch. I picked up a man and a woman from their home. Took them to the large casino in the adjacent town. On 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. There is no AC because the paint needs to dry. In the two weeks previous, the temperature had sometimes gotten up to 104F.
It was, honestly, interesting stuff. I found out that 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, 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, afterwards. His response surprised me. I had not made my story a heroic or pity-me one, just gone over some basic facts of the previous few years of my life 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 continued. He added, "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 circumstances 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 thirteen minute, 5.5 mile ride (on which I grossed $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 one. (I received two more tips: one in the form of medium French fries, they coming from a self-proclaimed Libertarian who worked at a public school; the second, $2 cash. That money came after a short $3.17 trip from a black t-shirted guy maybe twenty-two years old. He reeked of cigarette smoke and had shoulder-length black hair, and was kind, polite, and nice.)
At around 9:15pm, I called it a night. $68.51 later, not including the $7 in tips. $8.51 over goal! Really $15.51 over the night's 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 reaching wanted ends. They increase the probability of experiencing a better life.
a LukeyoutheU essay
Marylander by birth
Californian since 1993
about Jake Knight