On Feb 3, 2015, I hop into a Lyft ride with a soft-spoken man named Jesus at the wheel. We get to talking and a within a couple minutes I learn that he used to drive a truck from Chicago to Dallas, and back, for a furniture company. Cool! A potential subject for my Trucker Project! No hesitance. I ask if I can record our conversation. He says yes.
Jesus describes to me how he would eat chili peppers to stay awake -- he had a pretty sophisticated tiered system. By the end of our conversation, he begins to open up to me, and tells me why he ultimately left truck driving: he was tired of being alone. In the above two-minute clip, you can hear him begin to open up, but, ugh, because we reach my destination (work), the conversation must rush to an end.
"Well, I'll tell you the truth. I felt like I had no life being a truck driver, being always on the road. I was not being able to spend time with my friends, which I have no contact with them anymore, because of that. It's really hard to have a relationship when you're a truck driver, so, uh, I'm 37 years old, and I'm single because of that. So, that's why I quit. I left."
Though our conversation was cut short, it was just what I needed to be reminded of what a few simple questions and friendliness can lead to. I am regularly surprised by the vulnerability people are willing to exist in and share with me, if I am willing to listen. The more people I meet like this on Lyft rides, at get togethers, on the street (rare), the more I want to do something like Humans of New York, but here in the Bay Area, and maybe just audio. Less viral potential, I know. Something to think about.
and some tips for next time: Face the iPhone mic towards the interviewee, accept that it might feel awkward. Try to make less noise or give less feedback in general, instead just smile and nod.