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Penelope Pitstop and her Compact Pussycat go Uber undercover


I’m not sure what I would declare as the favorite aspect of my Uber "career." It should probably be something practical like the "income" or the "flexibility" because those are both necessary for me to even consider ridesharing as an employment option...but that's not what comes to mind when someone asks if I enjoy this minor league chauffeur gig. My automatic and sincere response to these inquiries is, "I love it! It's so much fun!" This is because I'm very social and inquisitive. I enjoy discovering common ground, I value diversity and I adore uncovering passion and exposing hidden beauty...and ultimately I love filtering it all through a sense of humor. This isn’t the first time I’ve posted about getting a makeover (of my preconceived notions) after an encounter with a passenger. Having my perceptions and assumptions challenged ranks high on the list of items being considered for the "favorite aspect" of my job. Likewise, I enjoy being the one to challenge someone else’s. One common assumption/perception/opinion I’ve encountered on the job is in regard to women operating a manual transmission vehicle. Apparently this is a rare “talent” for females or a skill reserved for members of the testosterone tribe. Therefore, my ability to operate a 5 speed automobile qualifies me as some sort of estrogen infested prodigy or rebel.

I know many other members of my tribe who possess this same "vehicular talent" so it always perplexes me when a male passenger implies I'm some sort of novelty. I don’t take offense to these remarks, I find them amusing and experience pride in rocking someone’s perception. Today was a little different because there was a member of my own tribe commenting on my transmissional preference. She wasn’t awestruck because I busted an archaic myth, she was caught up in a different assumption and I have to admit, I like this one much better. This passenger felt compelled to convey her admiration of my “clutch and shift prowess” and stated that she never possessed a driver’s license due to living in a large city with an ample public transportation system. Because she had no experience behind the wheel and wasn’t familiar with a vehicle’s functionality, she assumed a manual transmission was reserved for competitive driving...drag racing, Indy, evading law enforcement, etc. This caused her to imagine I lived some sort of “Fast and Furious” lifestyle after dark...me and my little Ford Focus racing up and down the strip with “pinks” on the line. Mild mannered Uber driver by day, Leadfoot Letty by night.

Her assessment of a manual transmission was based on scenes provided by the entertainment industry. This presumption of hers made me chuckle as I envisioned myself competing in the Granny-bracket of a high speed lifestyle.

Another comical encounter was when a young man entered my car, admired the fact that it was a manual transmission, and immediately assumed it was paired with a V8 engine. Apparently he too perceived that “clutch and stick shift” equated to “speed and power.” I had to stifle a giggle when I corrected him. He was disappointed to learn my little Focus was only a 4 cylinder and we wouldn’t be racing to his destination.

Anyway, my point is this...check your perceptions and assumptions. They may need a makeover. It doesn’t necessarily mean you were wrong all along for trusting them, it just means they were based on a very limited view of the world and you’re willing to learn and see someone else’s perspective.


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