You can learn a lot from Lyft drivers.
One thing I tend to encounter is stories of how we become American.
I met a Lyft driver recently named Aldo. He’s from Guatemala and came here 30 years ago, at 14, escaping civil war.
He went back for the first time not long ago, and couldn’t stand it. There’s no rule of law. “Nobody follows the rules,” he said. “You can’t just drive along peacefully like this. You gotta be aware of these other drivers running redlights. Motorcyclists coming up to rob you.”
I’ve heard the greatest stories from Lyft drivers. I met the brother of the champion of Mongolian BMX racing one time. Another was a Vietnamese screenwriter. A third was a Dreamer.
As Aldo and I drove along, he extolled the virtues of the Kia Optima hybrid, how he’d lived peacefully with his family in South Gate for eight years until his landlord married a Colombian woman and she started causing problems.
He told me he’d adopted his wife’s children — she was legally changing her name from Maria de la Luz to Lucy — raised them and they are now grown or growing. That he contracted polio when he was born and walks with crutches.
In Guatemalan, he couldn’t go back to his old neighborhood because he might not be able to leave it. He also couldn’t stand the smells in the outdoor markets.
So he came back from his visit home, and is getting his U.S. citizenship next year. And when he does he’ll change his name to Batman’s alter ego.
“I’m American,” he told me. “Everybody knows him.”