I love a good conversation. I’m getting paid to do what I love – travel and meet others. One of my dreams is to travel into small towns across America and hear the stories of those who live there. This will prove how small the world really is.
I’m practicing the skill of asking questions to my passengers in a ride-share business. My goal is to engage the rider for the length of the trip. Recently, before a young woman left my car, she stayed for a few minutes longer to finish a conversation.
Have you found yourself in an awkward place of silence, perhaps sitting by a stranger on an airplane? Here are five simple (open-ended) questions to help engage in a conversation.
Are You Traveling for Business or a Vacation?
Although there are travelers throughout the week, a majority of them fly on Sundays and Thursdays for business. That’s when Zone D at the airport is crowded and a usual 6 minute pickup turns into 15-20 minutes.
Besides jobs, people fly into Charlotte to attend professional sporting events, concerts, weddings, or college. Some will even rent a car to drive to the coast.
It’s fun to hear the stories from my passengers about their adventures. One couple were on their way to Iceland. Wearing several layers of clothes, anticipating the cooler temps, had them roasting in the 90 degree weather that morning. The husband asked me to turn up the A/C in the car.
Then there was a couple who had returned from a two week vacation in Hawaii. I joked with them about still liking each other. When I pulled in their driveway, I suddenly wished I hadn’t said anything, as I saw a sign that read: Welcome Home Mr. & Mrs.. Before I drove away, I watched to see him carry her across the thresh-hold, but he left her standing on the sidewalk with two large suitcases.
How Long Have You Lived Here (or There)?
I’ve given over 600 rides through Lyft and Uber. Less than 5% of those riders admitted to have been born and raised in Charlotte. Many others have transplanted here from the snowy states like New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. In the winter of 2017, Charlotte had about 2.5 inches of snow.
I met this nice young man who called himself a homeboy. As I was telling him about my car, he said it was dope. And I was like, “what?” He said, “dope, ya know, nice.” “Oh,” I responded, “I didn’t know about that meaning.”
Then as I was telling him more about some other things and he interrupted and said, “facts.” Again, I was baffled. And he said, “that’s what you say when someone is giving you true information, you just say facts. Now, how would you say it?” I responded with a smile, “facts.” “Yeah, that was dope.” he said.
And there it was, my first lesson is ‘homeboy language,’ or so I thought. Apparently, that’s a generational language, as a friend from church taught me the word, ‘shade,’ meaning to turn your eyes away from someone. I’ve got a lot left to learn.
What Are Some of Your Favorite Things to Do?
This is a great question to see what you have in common with your passengers, or what things you need to learn more about (which is usually my case.)
One couple told me about all their favorite burger restaurants around Charlotte. Another woman and I talked about donut shops. There was a young man in my backseat the other day who loved to read and we were talking about our favorite authors. His was Stephen King. I like Nicholas Sparks.
If I’m not taking the passengers home or to their workplace or the airport, then the destination probably involves sports or music. Charlotte is the home to several professional sports including football. I heard the prices were expensive to attend the game, but it surely didn’t keep the fans away.
I met two young men who were not able to enter the stadium because they had counterfeit tickets. They had spent $150 each – via someone on Craig’s List. The one guy said that his wife was going to be ‘pissed’. and I said, “Tell her how much money you saved by not having to buy beer and hotdogs.” He laughed and said, “that might work, thanks.”
Lately, I’ve decided that I need to keep a tab of the places I drop people off, so that one day, some Lyft driver can drop me off and I can check it out. I wish Charlotte had a City Pass.
Where Would Go on a Dream Vacation?
I had a conversation with a passenger the other day. She admitted she works all the time and has never even thought about that question. I told her it’s okay to dream. You never know what the future brings.
Several stated they wanted to go to Europe or even a European Cruise so you could see many of the countries along the coast. Others said Hawaii or Alaska. One even said South Africa. Another said “anywhere hot!”
My dream vacation is Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Perhaps, next summer.
Sometimes It’s Best Not to Have a Conversation
Honor and respect those who choose not to engage, as there are some who would rather sit in silence.
One passenger declined the opportunity to talk and asked if I would let him sit and sulk in the backseat. He had a terrible experience with the airline, whom also lost his luggage. When I pulled up to his house, he announced it was the wrong one. (He was going to his in-laws). So when he found the correct address, I drove another 10 miles down the road. When he got out of the car, he thanked me for the silence and gave me a $10 tip. So, sometimes it pays to be quiet, too.
Join me on the road by becoming a Lyft driver. You can earn an extra $450 by completing 75 rides in your first 30 days. (I typically do 40+ in a week).