One of my only joys in life is driving people. There’s just something about it that’s so relaxing to me. Some of my friends think it’s weird; I’ll drive for road trips without asking people to switch out with me, and I’m always happy to be the person picking people up or dropping people off, even if it’s out of the way.
This fascination of mine started when I was back in high school. There were two moments that left a permanent impression onto me. The first was so trivial that I didn’t even want to write about it, but it’s unquestionable that it was a moment which motivated me to get into driving. I was going out to see a play with a friend one day, and was calculating the bus route that I would have to take. The playhouse wasn’t necessarily far, but it was inconvenient to get to with public transit; it was one of those routes where there are transfers and a lot of walking. As I was about to head out the door, my friend texted me, asking if I needed a ride. Of course, I eagerly agreed.
It may be unusual for me to say this, but I seldom sat in a car growing up. My parents were in China, and I lived with only my grandmother who couldn’t drive. Consequentially, my entire world was defined by the boundaries set, at first, by where I could go by foot and, as I entered high school, by public transit. For the me sitting in that car and going to the play, the automobile granted me an indescribable luxury and freedom.
The second moment was less of a moment than perhaps a series of events. There was this girl that I had a pretty big crush on at the time. We were also really good friends, and I’d often hang out at her place for hours. It’s kinda funny; although I was there mostly to see her, I ended up getting along extremely well with her mother. Sometimes, it would even end up with my friend going to her room while her mom and I talked for longer. She’d always offer me tea, and invited me for dinner on multiple occasions. I would usually stay until I knew that the last bus was coming.
Even though she usually had to work the next day (she had to get up early, as a teacher), she would, without fail, always offer to give me a ride home. Of course, I tried to turn her down as often as possible. It felt unfair for me to take her offer, since she had already done so much for me. Sometimes I could tell she was tired, so when I declined she didn’t press me. When she insisted, however, I graciously accepted.
There’s something about being offered a ride that was just really nice. My young, impressionable brain has certainly internalized it for me to the extent where I would gladly offer a ride to people if I have the time and means to take them home, regardless of how long it will take. You sometimes end up having wonderful conversations with people too, when you’re in the car and it’s late. The road home is always a peaceful one, shrouded by night, accompanied by nothing but your music.
Of course, there were other factors that enabled me to get into driving. There’s the financial support I received from my father, to whom I’m indebted, for my driving lessons, licensing, and vehicle. There was also the inevitability of needing a vehicle for practical purposes to help my elderly grandmother get around. Nevertheless, the attitudes that I’ve adopted were as a result of these people in my life. The joy of being able to do something, even something so trivial, for a friend, combined with the gratitude you get from them by making their lives slightly easier, is a wonderful feeling.