Last night, I took Uber from the Houston Hobby airport to my hotel in Cypress, Texas. It was not my first transportation choice. However, the client requested that I save them some money by not hiring a car service at an exorbitant price. I could have rented a car and risked getting lost or stuck in traffic, or taken the 27-mile ride to the hotel in the comfort of a car I wasn’t driving.
The Uber came along fairly soon, and as I climbed into the back seat, the driver, whose name was “Ken,” welcomed me aboard. I knew his name was Ken because he said, “Hi, I’m Ken. I’m glad to see you!” For a few seconds I thought he might have recognized me as a big shot, well-known author and award-winning speaker, but before I could utter the word “Ego,” he said, “Are you in Houston on business or for pleasure?”
That was my first lesson about Ken: I presumed he greeted every single passenger with warmth and respect. I was casually dressed, but I could already tell it did not make one bit of difference to Ken.
After the warm greeting he gave me, the very next thing I noticed about Ken was that he was no spring chicken. He was completely gray, and I would not have been shocked to know he was deep into his 70s. His teeth were far too perfect, suggesting he had sat in more than one dental chair over the course of his lifetime. Nevertheless, he had a very nice smile that spoke of contentment at the gift of just being alive. I might add that his shirt was perfectly ironed and creased.
I am ashamed of myself for noticing Ken’s age, for as the car pulled away from the curb, I could not only tell that he was fully in command of his vehicle, but he was a true, professional driver. More amazing, instead of assuming I knew the areas we passed by, Ken announced each landmark of interest that made the ride enjoyable. I am not saying this for effect. Ken really wanted me to know what part of Houston I was in and the significance of each location.
The driver’s calm, happy voice caused me to relax immediately. I looked outside at all of the sights I take for granted when I am driving my own vehicle. The miles to my hotel floated by, and as I thanked Ken for the ride (and he thanked me), I could not help but think about how the ride had lightened my mood.
Thoughts About Ken
I must tell you that my first thought about Ken was that he was a guy who needed the money and so he was forced to keep working. Now, I am not certain. For all I know, he had been a successful businessperson or, who knows, a professional of some kind. I say this because there was nothing about him—nothing—that remotely suggested he was angry, bitter or in any way unhappy. He may not have needed the job at all.
His presence said to me: “I didn’t want to be ‘kicked to the curb,’ thank you. I enjoy my life, and I want you to enjoy your life as well.” My feelings about this line of thinking were reinforced as I noticed the full-color print that was encased in a plastic sleeve on his dashboard. It was Ken on the dance floor in a shirt and tie, dancing with an attractively dressed woman who was in a black cocktail dress. The woman was no spring chicken either, but her warm smile said everything that needed to be said.
What the picture conveyed to me was this:
“Hello, everyone. I am a happy man who loves his life and who loves his wife. I want to share this picture with you because I want you to be happy, too, no matter how your day is going right now.”
My friends, I have known multimillionaires who live their lives in absolute misery chasing something they’re not even sure exists. They could learn a thing or two from a contented Uber driver. Ken is “Enjoying the Ride” while enjoying the ride.
There was a reason I chose to take an Uber last evening. In my view, it was Ken reminding me that happiness comes from serenity and that success is not defined by wealth, but by contentment.