Jose from Chicago still remembers how terrified he was when he picked up his first passenger.
“Once I was approved, it took me three days to work up the courage to actually turn the app on,” he says. “When the first ride request came, my heart started pumping like crazy, and my hands shook. The shaking got worse when I got to the passenger’s house. I didn’t see them at first — should I call?”
Today, Jose is a seasoned driver who’s given more than 15,000 rides. But he’s never forgotten those early nerves. Like many first-time drivers, the thought of interacting with a complete stranger filled him with anxiety.
Jose previously worked as a warehouse manager, and so he was accustomed to talking to the same 10 people every day. He also had no idea what level he should interact with passengers on — should he be stiff and formal, like the limo drivers and chauffeurs who ferry around millionaires in the movies?
Jose’s first passenger found the car and the shaking started to subside. But it still felt uncomfortable.
“There’s a stranger sitting next to me!” he thought to himself.
So Jose forced himself to break the ice.
“I said, ‘Hey, how are you? This is my first time giving a Lyft ride,’” Jose recalls. “The passenger told me that it was his first Lyft ride, too! We both laughed because we realized that our nervousness was mutual.”
Things clicked for Jose after that. He quit his day job after three months to drive full time, and he soon came to see forging connections with riders as the most rewarding part of the job. Now, when he takes time off from driving, he finds he really misses encountering new people every day.
“To me, not knowing who’s getting into the back seat next is the most exciting thing,” Jose says. “Every time you hear that little ride request sound, it’s an adventure.”
He mentors other drivers now, and he has several key insights he’s eager to share: Be patient. Learn the layout of your city. Look for online groups or forums where you can compare notes with other Lyft drivers. Motivate yourself by setting a specific goal — say, paying off a credit card, or covering a monthly expense like rent or a car payment.
But the most important lesson, Jose explains, is the one he learned from that very first ride.
“I was so scared of saying something wrong and making it all weird and awkward,” he says. “But all I had to do was be myself.”
What do you wish you knew your first week? Let us know!