Passengers

When you’re a passenger in someone’s vehicle and they take a different route to your destination than the one you would have taken, how do you respond?

Do you object? Do you argue — even if only in your head — that your way would have been better?

I suppose if you’re paying by the mile for the ride, and the alternate route is clearly costing you more, then, sure, it makes sense to object. But if you’re just along for the ride, maybe consider looking out the window, enjoying the unexpected scenery, instead.

My friend Adrian used to drive for a shuttle service that carried people to and from Los Angeles International Airport. He knew the surface streets of his city, knew what time a certain thoroughfare would be relatively clear, what time it would be at a standstill. He knew all the ways to get from point A to point B.

Since his passengers paid a flat rate for his service, there was no benefit to him in taking a longer route than necessary. And he never did.

He liked to tell the story of a passenger who mistrusted his choice of routes, and commented, warily, “I’ve never gone to the airport this way. Are you sure…

The question trailed off, but the implication was obvious: that my friend, who, I will add, spoke with a charming and obviously not-from-around-here accent, didn’t know what he was doing.

“Ma’am,” he told her, sweetening that charming accent as he does when his knowledge is questioned, “the only one in this van who needs to know how to get to the airport is me.”

She did not relax until LAX came into view, unexpectedly, from an unfamiliar direction. Too bad. She might seen something unexpected, new, different, interesting.

Here’s the moral of the story: when you’re in the passenger’s seat, relax. Let the driver do the driving. Assume they’re competent. Assume good intent. Let them show you things you wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Let the world show you things. Take some small bit of delight in seeing something unanticipated, instead of umbrage that you got where you were going a different way than you’d planned.

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