Riding in Cars with Strangers

Written by Jacqueline Newell

Disclaimer: I do not encourage you getting into cars with strangers. Unless, of course, it’s a taxi because then you really don’t have a choice.

I previously wrote an article about what it was like to be a leadership consultant (LC) for my sorority. It included awkward silences, new introductions and a lot of car rides with strangers. The other day I was reflecting on my time as a LC and I realized there have been many times in my life where I’ve ridden in cars with strangers. This is typically something that is frowned upon but, if you think about it, an important part of our society is riding on public transportation with strangers so it could be worse, right?

For example, my co-worker Jane and I were recently talking about how we met in college. She and a few other upperclassmen picked me up while I was walking back to campus and, if my memory serves correct, there was some McDonald’s that came out of that. While sprawled across the laps of several women in the back seat, I met my future recruitment counselor partner, a current co-worker, and my shelter while visiting Chicago. So, although I didn’t know these women, I ended up making some new friends!

In February, while flying from Nashville to Denver, I spent three hours talking to a man nurse (who will hence forth be referred to as “the murse”) and just like our flight, it was non-stop. If this was a movie, we would be getting married in the fall. But, it’s not. The murse and I discussed my transportation options from the airport to my hotel. He explained the only people he has ever seen take a taxi from the airport are CEOs because it is close to $100. Well, since I was completely broke, I obviously broke out in panic. The murse offered to drive me to my hotel and, surprisingly and without hesitation, I agreed. After an awkward bus ride to his car with a tight grip on  a L.L. Bean pocket knife, we drove about 45 minutes out of his way to my hotel. Needless to say, I love a good murse.

A scooter isn’t quite a car but riding on the back of one with a stranger feels oddly more safe than in a car. When I booked a trip from Sevilla, Spain to Morocco and it fell through while studying abroad, I had to fill my time in Sevilla another way. The workers at DiscoverSevilla offered to take me and a friend to dinner as compensation. I don’t remember his name but I met a man at the Plaza del Toros and my friend and I took turns riding on the back of his scooter through the streets of Spain. We cut through wedding parties, traffic and back streets and had one of the best dinners in Spain!

Lastly, while walking home from the bar in Adelboden, Switzerland, we got a ride on a neighbor’s tractor so we wouldn’t have to climb back up the mountain to our house. Needless to say, when you’re in a pinch, you do what you can. I feel like my street smarts are pretty solid but sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do.

Peace, Love & Drive Yourself

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