Beep. My next rider is nearby. I’m still in this older, more run-down, poorer part of Baltimore, an area I’ve often noticed surging on the Uber app but couldn’t figure out why. Until now. Now I get it: lots of folks here simply don’t have cars.
I pick up my next rider. She comes out carrying two large bags. I’m doing my laundry, she tells me; hold on, I have more bags to get. She’s mid-20s, Black, with a very fresh face and a beautiful smile. She has thick, almost azure blue cornrows that seem to have some faux hair woven in. Her hair reaches down past her mid-back. It’s striking.
I tell her I can’t put her bags in my trunk because of the bike rack, but that we’ll work things out just fine.
She tells me that she wants to start riding a bike again. And that she wants to get a bike with training wheels for her younger sister. She tells me about how her sister fractured her foot when she young, how this injury had her miss out on a lot of kid’s activities, how she wants her now 22-year-old sister to have this experience of being able to ride a bike. How sweet, I think to myself.
It’s after 10 p.m. You’re out late doing laundry, I say. It’s been a long day, she tells me. She had to go get her food stamps and then go to the Social Security Administration, then to the market. Now she’s doing her laundry. She does work-study at Baltimore City College and works in the library there.
She’s studying to become a medical lab technician, or something like that, and she wants to knock out her requirements at a less-expensive school, then she’ll continue on to Morgan State University. She’s working on getting her GPA up because the scholarship monies are much better if her GPA is better. She’s clearly done her homework. Will she go on to be a nurse? Perhaps. One thing at a time.
I help her carry her bags of laundry and encourage her to study often and consistently. We say goodnight.
Key experience: I love her path forward, her vision for the next few years. She’s staking a claim in her future and going for it.