Andrew, my Lyft driver was a nice enough guy. He cheerfully introduced himself as he picked me up at the airport at 1 am. “Nice weather tonight. Where you comin’ from?” (“Detroit,” I say. “Never been,” he says.) A few more niceties. And then things took a turn.
The conversation rapidly devolved, into a monologue. Not annoyingly. Simply predictably.
So, here’s what I now know. Andrew took his family to Santa Cruz yesterday. He wants his kids to enjoy all of California before they move to Spokane, his wife’s hometown. They’re looking for a home in this popular Northwest city, but may have to rent for a while.
Andrew just retired from the California Department of Justice. Though he’s only been driving for Lyft for a few months, he’s logged more than a thousand rides. (I forgot the exact number of rides, but he did tell me.)
Also, with nothing resembling a segue, he shared that he has a friend who is a famous artist and another who is the son of a famous artist. Had I not been sapped of my energy by traveling for the past 12 hours, I might have attempted to express interest in this. He should’ve been an artist, he reflected, “had real promise, even took some classes at Sac City.” Somewhere around this time the LED display on the dashboard signaled “YOU’RE HALFWAY.”
The next half provided ample time for Andrew to share the details of his pension and his health coverage. I managed to interject how my wife also just retired with a pension. Not appreciating my effort to engage, he continued. He said he loved the part of town we entered and has friends that live somewhere near. “Isn’t the nearby zoo moving?” he asked. But didn’t wait for an answer. “Not sure if I’m gonna head back to the airport or not,” he reckoned out loud, as we pulled up to my house.
In contrast to my extensive familiarity of Andrew, here’s what he learned about me: where I live.
We said our thanks and goodbyes.
And … yet again, I am left with this curious impression: People are infinitely more interested in talking about themselves — often in mind-numbing detail — than they are in asking questions and engaging in actual interactive conversation.
When will we ever learn, if we talk so much more than we listen?
* random stock photo, not actually Andrew, which is not his real name
When this happens do what I do, and say this. “You know, I’d much rather have a dialogue, where there’s give and take, a true conversation so that we can connect.” I’ve had to do this with friends even. Last time I employed it was with a woman I’d met online. After an hour I said pretty much those exact words. After that we had a very nice conversation.
Too bad he wasn’t a comic, you could have at least heard a funny monologue..
Scary to think he says this to ALL his rides.