I sat down with Jessica, one of Onward's most requested Companion Drivers to talk about the impact of her work. In the office, we hear about the value of connections between companion drivers and riders, but we wanted to know how apparent that was to her in the front seat.
I asked her: "How do you know that you're making a difference in people's lives?"
You know, what’s nice is that there are big and small moments.
Oftentimes, it’s the little things that make a difference for my riders. I'm convinced that there’s something about our moment of interaction that creates a little magic. I can see it in my rider’s faces.
Simple things like knowing the route my riders enjoy, or remembering a story from a past ride can make their day.
The bigger impacts have built over time in my experience. I think of my riders as a part of my community and building a community doesn’t happen overnight.
I used to have a rider that I drove to appointments twice a week, so we saw each other quite frequently. Over the course of our year and a half together, we developed a unique relationship because I speak his native language, Chinese. Even though he spoke English, he was more comfortable speaking Chinese, and I knew that mattered to him.
I can remember, one day we arrived at his house and his smoke alarm was going off. Fortunately, there was no fire, and he asked me to help him turn it off.
While as a Companion Driver, I regularly help people in and out of their homes, I think I was the only person who was ever allowed to go inside his home. That was special.
After we turned off the alarm, I met his wife and daughter. I didn’t expect it, but they knew exactly who I was. I was welcomed with open arms, and in that moment, it was crystal clear that our time together had really meant something to him.
I'm not a taxi driver, this job is so much more. I'm there in those moments when my riders need me. It means something to them and it means something to me.
Contributed by: Eric Liddle