Today I arrived at the Durham airport for a week long project. After I touched down I opened my Uber app to schedule a ride to the hotel.
I was picked up by Bryan. We started off with standard chit chat. But then the conversation became much more substantive.
We talked about a lot of different topics: The black experience in Silicon Valley compared to North Carolina, his experience growing up in poverty, dealing with cops, why he was unable to finish his education, and an incredible uber ride.
A few weeks ago Bryan picked up a uber rider named John. John lived in a huge house located in a nice suburban area. The house had two brand new luxury cars in the driveway. Bryan thought to himself this would be a standard trip of bringing a wealthy person to a party or the airport., but something was wrong. Uber showed the person wanted to go to the projects (low income housing).
Once John entered the car, Bryan confirmed with John if he wanted to go to the projects. John said “Yes.” Bryan said, “Are you sure?” John said, “Yes! The reason why I’m going to the hood is to kill a fool who has been causing me problems.”
Bryan was stunned. He knew John was able to make good on his promise due to his many gang tattoos. Bryan was able to regain his composure by controlling his emotions. Bryan asked John why he wanted to kill someone. John was a member of the bloods gang. Derek disrespected John and it was time to teach Derek a lesson.
At work we talk about high stakes Crucial Conversations. Bryan was about to embark on a life or death conversation.
Bryan spoke to John about black history, politics, and the value of life. He did his best to show John how killing Derek would lead to John’s self destruction and it would hurt the greater community. After a tense exchange, John said, “You’re right. I shouldn’t kill Derek…..because black lives matter.” Bryan ended up dropping John off at a different location.
Two lives were saved that day. Derek’s life. John’s civic life.
A lot of random events fell in line resulting in Derek’s life being saved.
What if Bryan decided not to use Uber that day? Would John have gone through with killing Derek? What if John decided to use his own car to drive to the ghetto? Does Derek know he would have lost his life it wasn’t for a random intervention from a Uber driver? How many other lives could have been saved if the Bryan’s of the world were there to talk to people?
So much senseless bloodshed is happening in our streets that could have been prevented by having someone there to talk to us.
We easily overlook the power we have to impact each others lives by simply being present, listening, and connecting.