I left for the airport yesterday and decided to call Lyft. A big eye opening experience for me recently has been my interactions with various people as a Lyft driver.
On this day however, I would be the passenger . The one getting swooped off to my point of destination . My driver was Amir.
A little geography, as you may know or not know , I reside in southeast Michigan . Dearborn , Michigan is the home to the largest Middle Eastern population outside of the Middle East. I’m grateful for these experiences growing up it gives me a unique perspective and one that has allowed me to realize the variations in culture, religious beliefs, etc.
Amir drives 20 minutes to pick me up . As a Lyft driver you don’t get paid to pick up a passenger. It’s not uncommon that if the distance is far enough, the driver or passenger will cancel the ride right away. Amir called and we told him that he was the closest driver to us so he said okay and was on his way. He knew we relied on him. When you are a driver you realize how much your passengers rely on you whether it’s to get to work, a special event, a doctor’s appointment or to be responsible and not drink and drive.
Amir arrived in 20 minutes sharp. He was probably in his mid to late 30s. He was very talkative, honest,funny and relatable.
Amir is from Iraq and came to the United States in 1991. In 1991 I was graduating from high school but I recall my teachers turning on the television in class so we could watch the United States invasion of Iraq during the short lived ‘ Persian Gulf War’.
Amir talked to me about his experiences here in the United States as a hard working business owner. He seemed very positive and hopeful. He talked about his landscaping business and his recent expansion into snow plowing which . He didn’t seem to thrilled about the latter with our shortage of snow this year and the high cost of the equipment. Amir had many experiences working for others as well including a time he went back to visit Iraq for two months.
He said when he was first visiting Iraq he wasn’t enjoying himself and thought about going back home early. But then his cousin talked him into visiting northern Iraq which he said he enjoyed as was ‘different’.
Amir told me that five days before the end of his trip he was offered a job to lead a crew to do clean up and construction projects for the government because they couldn’t build oil rigs fast enough . He was offered $10,000 a month which was enough for him to stay. He enjoyed the work and said the money was great but that he encountered a lot of dishonesty in business dealings. He stated “how can Iraq build itself up if people couldn’t be honest with one another”. He mentioned individuals offering him money as bribes and he didn’t understand why they did this when many were already making good salaries.
Amir seemed disheartened he says they should have let Saddam stay because he wouldn’t allow many things into the country like drug which are prevelant now. Amir said Iraq used to have the best university back in the 1960s and 70s and many in Europe at that time dreamed of attending such a prestigious university.
Amir told me he came back to the United States mainly because of his interactions with the Iraqi people. He seemed saddened for the Iraq knew growing up no longer existed . He was very positive and in my conversation with him he seemed s upbeat and positive. I’m glad I met Amir and thank you for me lyfting me to my destination and lifting me in thought .