Anne has lived a life of listening. Before retiring she was an Episcopal priest, a marriage and family therapist, and an RN. And now she's putting her trained ear back to work as a Lyft driver. Her hair is silver. She's calm, and you can instantly see how she has the power to make the space between strangers less strange. What she refers to as "car connections" happen frequently out on the road, especially with our younger passengers.
She has spent her whole life listening to peoples' stories — but now, what's changed is a lack of context. She won't see passengers in Sunday pews, or at their appointment next Tuesday.
"A freedom in anonymity is what gets people talking," she says. "There are no consequences, no connection between driver and passenger, and something happens there." It's this unspoken contract, the knowledge that they will most likely never see each other again, that changes the dynamic. The car stops, the door shuts, and gone.
Anne thinks of driving as a service — both a way to get around for those who don't have cars, and a continuation of her altruistic career.
"There's an element of the 'helping profession' woven into the driver experience," she says. "That makes a difference to me. It's a huge part of what keeps me driving."
Anne is an advocate for older people driving who, like her, may have become disconnected from communities, youth, and the energy of meeting new people. Lyft has in many ways opened up her life, providing the flexibility of seeing her grandchildren when she needs to, additional income, and a new reason to get out of the house.
"When we get older, it’s easy to get limited with a certain set of friends and habits," she said. "Our life tends to narrow. I think diversity is what keeps us alive. The senior community is often very isolating, and this helps me break from that."
Before heading into the city to drive, Anne sits in her garden to calm herself. It helps her be present, and bring a "quiet allowing" to the road. There's a peace about her that's hard to see in very many young people. It's likely part of the reason Millennials open up to her so often. But for Anne, it goes both ways. She gives them an unfailingly positive "this too shall pass" wisdom, and they give her the thrilling excitement of uncertainty.
A shared car ride seems to be all it takes to find a balance.