It’s been 5 months since the first COVID-19 lockdown. Rather than opting out of ride-share driving and collecting unemployment as so many drivers have chosen to do, I prefer to keep driving. I am so grateful that I continue to be safe as an essential worker, and actually feel blessed to be able to help where I can during these trying times in all of our lives.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
The one thing I have noticed is that close to 60% of my rides are with people of color. I seem to end up in neighborhoods like Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Everett, Chelsea & East Boston. The reason being is that in “white collar” neighborhoods, most workers get the privilege of working from home. In the “blue collar” neighborhoods there is no such option to work from home. Although I have always considered myself a supporter of the Black Live Matters movement (long before BLM was formed), I have become that much more aware of the white privilege that exists today through my ride-sharing and the many conversations I’ve had with Black passengers. As serious as this subject matter is, sometimes we all might need a little comic relief during these stressful times.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE CAR
Recently I picked up a very cute couple from Ethiopia who are now living in the greater Boston area. I always verify the name & destination before I hit the road. On this particular ride however, I did a double take on the name and decided to be very PC and ask the young man his name. When you see a name spelled NEGR you can only imagine how it will sound when you pronounce it. I am thinking is this some kind of set-up to get me to say the N-word? So, after Negr said his name and it came out just as I thought it would, I had to bring it up in conversation.
I asked Negr if his name is a problem these days based on the sensitivity of the Black Lives Matters movement. The couple simultaneously started to laugh and nod their heads in agreement. I asked, What are you planning on doing? They responded that they’re still working on this. They told me in Ethiopia “Negr” means “Morning,” which I thought was quite a beautiful meaning. I mentioned that I seem to shorten most names… like my kids Samantha to Sam, Jessica to Jess and Zachary to Zach or Z. How about you just go with Morny or Neg I ask. They laughed but agreed, especially when I mentioned someone yelling across the street … “Hey NEGR how are you today?” When they left they said they are going to work on this and come up with something more appropriate for the times.
Two days later, I picked up a young Black man and my eyes opened up wide when I saw his name spelled, NEGA!!!! Guess what? He too was from Ethiopia and after having a similar conversation that I had with the previous couple, he too said it meant “Morning” in Ethiopia. He too decided that it might be best to come up with a change. You kind of have to laugh a little when you come across something like this twice within a few days. I just knew I had to write about it and with all the stress we are all feeling right now… a little comic relief can’t hurt, right?
BE KIND, BE SAFE, SHOW GRATITUDE!
*Names & any identifying information may have been changed to protect the innocent (from post), as I am only interested in writing about our conversations, especially if it might be insightful to others.
*© Driving Insights, 2020 +