I got an Uber ride last week, the driver was young, about my age (early 20s.) He seemed like he was lonely because he really wanted to make conversation with me, or maybe he just enjoys the presence of other people. He started off by telling me about how he’s working a morning shift today but he usually works the night shift and how traffic was very different during the day (I live in NYC.) He told me he was just working to pay off the lease.
Then I proceeded to ask him how long he’s lived here in NYC and he told me going on 12 years now. He came to America from India when he was 9 years old, alone. Yes, alone. The rest of his family stayed in India and he came here to live with his uncle. I asked him why he came alone, and he told me that he was the only one out of himself, his brother, and his sister that said “yes” when asked if they wanted to go to America.
I asked him why he wanted to move to America and he laughed at first and said:
“So my Mom couldn’t whoop my ass anymore.”
he then continued to say,
“There is a chance for opportunity here. I feel bad for old homeless people when I see them here because employers aren’t as willing to give them another chance because to them it looks like they have already used up their chances. When I see young homeless people, they are the ones that I DON’T feel bad for. Our generation is the generation for opportunity. You can do anything here at our age. Whether it’s cleaning up trash on the street for money, washing dishes, driving taxis, etc. We haven’t used up our chances, we are just learning how to use them now. They could be doing something with their lives rather than sitting on the streets. I have been working ever since I have come to America. My uncle kicked me out of his house a couple times when I was kid, but always let me come back thankfully. I have never once asked anyone for money, not even my parents. I will send my parents money if they need it. As a kid, I was always working on the weekends while my friends at school went to go play.”
I asked him if he would ever go back to India, and without hesitation he answered “No.” I asked him if he has seen his family since he left India 12 years ago, and he said they Skype often but he hasn’t seen his parents in real life since. Recently his brother and sister came to America, and he cried when he got to see and hug his sister.
I needed to share this and get it out to the public. I want people my age to realize how fortunate we are that we live in this generation of opportunity. That we are lucky to have our family help us out in a time of need and that we should appreciate everyday as another chance.
Any time I get bummed because I’m not spending my days living a fabulous life on a yacht or laying on piles of money, I will remind myself of this wonderful man I met and how thankful each and every one of us should be. People like this are the ones that we should really be looking up to/taking advice from. I could keep writing about this because I don’t think it’s stressed enough, but I’ll save everyone from the rant. While living in our success is so absolutely satisfying, don’t lose your sense of humility.