The Life I Am Living

I’d forgotten the biggest disadvantage of only earning enough money to pay bills. It doesn’t allow much of a buffer when unexpected expenses arise. A check engine light equates to the feeling of a pit in the stomach. Welcome to my world.

A couple of weeks ago I cleaned out my car and signed up with Lyft. It’s a ride sharing service alternative to a taxi. For a week I had my phone app in driver mode, ready to accept rides, but had no requests. So much for making a living cruising around town.

This week I’ve been turning my phone to driver mode when I leave my part time job in Cary. It’s more central to Research Triangle Park, and certainly not as remote as where I live in Chatham county. Heading home the first day, still no ride requests.

On my second day, however, I had my first “BING” notification that a ride was requested. Whoo Hoo! Lyft drivers have about 20 seconds to either accept or reject a request, so I quickly clicked ACCEPT. The address for pick up pops up, I click on “navigate”, and I’m on the way.

I called the customer to let him know I was about 15 minutes out. I realize now that wasn’t necessary as they can see the location of the nearest driver when they make the request. However, I’m glad I called as my ride gave specifics of which building I was to go to when I arrived.

I pulled up to the address specified and went to tap the Lyft application “I’ve arrived” button, but it wasn’t there. Confused, I hit redial to call the rider again, only to discover all calls get routed through the Lyft system. I got a recording saying “you are not on an active ride so we cannot complete your call.”

I looked at my phone again. The Lyft app said “waiting for passenger requests”. Then I noticed there was a text message. “Aniel has canceled the Lyft request.”

Disappointed, I pulled out of the apartment complex and headed back home. I had taken about 20 minutes out of my schedule, been on a toll road to get there, and was 15 miles off my normal route home. However, I had been warned by my Lyft “mentor” that this sort of thing happens.

Fortunately, I wasn’t very far down the road when my phone BINGS again. It was a new request, back to the same address. Okay, then – let’s try this again.

This time I’m able to click “I’ve arrived” and a super friendly gentleman from India climbs into my car. He explains he canceled the first ride because he had made it from his friends phone and re-did the request from his. The address where he wants to go shows up in my application; I press navigate and off we go.

He told me he uses Lyft at least twice a day. He also uses Uber, the other car driving service, although he said he prefers Lyft because it is less expensive. I drove him about 5 minutes away to a friends house and dropped him off.

As a driver I then have the opportunity to “rate” him as a customer. The Lyft application tells me I will never be paired again with someone I rank 3 stars or less. I gave him 5 stars since he was a friendly passenger.

He has the option to add a tip and rank me as well. If I understand the system correctly, if I don’t maintain positive feedback, I won’t be able to continue as a Lyft driver. I’m not too worried about that since I’m one of those people who have never met a stranger.

If you’re wondering by now what all this has to do with my check engine light, well it is connected. Driving home the next day I again accepted a Lyft request only to then see the dreaded light. Not a good thing to have showing when picking up a ride.

I covered up the light on my dashboard with an “” business card. I didn’t want to take the chance of the rider giving me bad feedback because my car needs attention. At the time I was more concerned about that then what the light actually might mean for my pocket book.

This rider turned out to be a couple on their way to dinner at a local pub. The guy told me he never drives if he is going to drink. Super smart guy, huh?

I’m chatting with them about how they are only my second ride. I share how I was laid off and signed up with Lyft to earn a little extra money. The guy explains he too had been laid off before so he understands what I’m going through.

When I ask him what he does now I find out he is the regional marketing manager for a large assisted living chain. Eureka! Here is a potential network opportunity for a real job. He gives me his business card and assures me he will make sure my resume gets to the right place.

Whoa. Did you catch that? I wrote “real job.” As if the one I have now is a fake one. Language is a funny thing.

At the moment I can’t find his business card. However, I’m thinking it’s in the console of my car. My car … well, it’s at the mechanics. There will be no Lyft driving for me today.

I don’t know that I want to work as a marketing manager for a large assisted living chain. From what I’ve read, those jobs are super high pressure and super long hours. Not to mention I’ve seen some pretty poor care being provided in some places.

Still, it’s an interesting consideration. I’ve never had my life be in such flux before. As such, I am fascinated with this exploration of my choices. A job as a marketing director of an assisted living chain would most likely mean I wouldn’t have to worry about how much I need to pay for the car repair.

But then, I’d be worried about something else. I’d be stressed if I wasn’t making my quotas. I’d be rushed to make sure I was at work on time. I’d be complaining I was working too many hours.

Todays blog is a bit longer than my last two, but I see a theme emerging. I’m still putting all the pieces together as the picture comes in focus. But I’m thinking this journey is perhaps less about creating a life I love and more about trusting the life I am living.