I was nineteen. It was the summer of my first year in college. I had a summer job working on campus at California State University, Bakersfield at the faculty help desk preparing new computers with the necessary software and configurations before they were dispatched to the appropriate offices on campus.
My parents lived two towns over from Bakersfield in a tiny town called Maricopa. In between Maricopa and Bakersfield there was a slightly larger town, Taft. My dad had to pass through Taft on his way to work everyday at 5:30 am so he would drop me off at the bus stop every morning where I’d patiently wait for forty minutes to an hour while listening to my iPod. I didn’t really mind the wait, it gave me time to think; except for on occasion the bus would come by and say they were full and I’d have to wait for the next one — two hours later.
Getting home was the same thing. I would get on the bus, ride home for an hour and wait for my dad to get off and drive through Taft and pick me up on his way home. I usually only had to wait thirty minutes to an hour, until one day. I had a particularly bad day at work, it was hot, I was hungry and all I wanted to do was go home, eat dinner and go to sleep. An hour went by. Nothing. An hour turned to two. Right before it got to be three hours I saw my dad’s truck turn the corner. As soon as I hopped in, he apologized and said, “he got caught up in a meeting”. I immediately went to balling. I wasn’t mad or upset with him. In that moment I realized, I’ll never be able to drive.
Fast forward to my mid-twenties. I had my own small business in IT and had already surpassed what the inner-city’s bus system could provide in a timely manner so I put someone on retainer for $800 per month to get me to job site to job site every day as well as running personal errands. Between her and the occasional taxi, my inner-city transportation needs were met. My sister had kept bugging me to try out this new service called Uber. Once I did, it literally changed my life.
All of a sudden, I got to experience what all of my peers experienced — the ability to “get up and go”. From work to going out to running errands, all without needing assistance from a loved one or waiting hours and hours on public transportation. Usually whenever I request an Uber or a Lyft from my apartment in Bakersfield, someone is outside of my complex within three to five minutes. With the added bonus, at the end of the month I add up the amount I’ve spent across the two ride shares and it typically doesn’t equal a fraction of what the average person pays for a vehicle once you add up a car payment, car insurance, gas and maintenance.