We get into a routine. Our comfort zone. We pull it up around ourselves, tuck ourselves in. It's a comfortable coccoon, where we listen to our favourite music, munch on the same food and drink the same beverage we had yesterday, meet the same people, see the same places.
This is what I like, we tell ourselves, this is perfect. This is home.
Uber can change all that. Suddenly, we're out and about, all over the city, driving down new streets in search of new people, forced to share our lives with them and their unfamiliar preferences.
It's part of the job; might as well make the most of it.
I carry a little mirrorless camera with me. It fits into the door pocket and I can whip it out when I see something. A rainbow, a sunset, fog on the lake, a pack of lady cyclists whizzing past - all lycra and loveliness.
My Uber work gets me to fresh places, I see things from new angles. In normal life, I wouldn't be down by the lake at dawn, but when I work the early shift, why, it's just a few metres off the freeway and I'm in a little waterside park.
It was still, moody, dramatic. Not usually the sort of thing I find at day's beginning, tucked up and drowsy. A moment of peace before I get back on the road.
I took a series of shots, looking for the best framing, the best exposure, but the phone in my hand buzzed, and within moments I was back in the car, whizzing over that bridge in the background, off to pick up another passenger.
I gave him my usual spiel: cold water in the door pocket, Minties in the centre console, charging cables, pick your own music…
"Oh yeah, that Spotify thing," he said. "Mind if I try it?"
"Not at all. I get tired of hearing the same songs time after time. Always good to try something new."
He fiddled with his phone and music came out of my speakers. Amy Winehouse, not generally my cup of tea, but not bad at all.
He chuckled. "I had an Uber driver last night, let me play my music. I picked a good song, but nothing happened. Couldn't work it out. Then I noticed that the driver had his earphones plugged into his phone. He was rocking and bopping along, and I was getting nothing.
"I looked at him, and made a remark about how it would be good to have some music. He got the hint, and put on the radio for me!"
I told him how I was always glad to hear new music. No matter how much I love a song, after hearing the same playlist hundreds of times, the sparkle fades.
"Here's one I never get tired of," he said.
Amy stopped and a new tune came on. Soft and sparse at first, but picking up. Mellow, rich, deep.
"A band called 'Radical Faces'," he said. "I've listened to it hundreds of times, love it."
I was charmed. Here was this man, a stranger in my life, sharing his best tune with me.
So, dear readers, I'm passing it on. Paying it forward. May your day have something different, something fresh, something good. Welcome home.
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