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  • Thomas Riddell

The Road Ahead: 2020, 2021 And Up Around The Bend


As I peek into the rearview mirror, I see a year littered with all kinds of bizarre and crazy atrocities that I would have only imagined seeing on the old TV show Twilight Zone. There were the freezer trucks lined up in New York City, ready to receive thousands of bodies of people who had been infected with a virus that was just in the early stages of a pandemic, which was ravaging the world. If that wasn't bad enough people began to politicize the pandemic and they actually attacked people who were trying to contain the virus. Anti maskers and others, who are against vaccinations, engaged in conspiracy theories and some even threatened the ones who wore masks and rolled up their sleeves for shots. Many had little to no compassion for their fellow human beings and that just boggles my mind.


On top of the pandemic there were national protests over the murder of a black man in Minneapolis by police. We all watched as the man died under a knee on his neck. It was a horrific incident that shocked the world.


2020 was a rough year for so many but for me personally, it wasn't that bad. I bought a new car in June and after a pause of two and a half months, because of the pandemic, I continued doing what I loved: Being an Uber Driver and I published a book I was working on (Poppy's Prison) in August.


At the beginning of 2021, many had high hopes of it being a much better year and then January 6 hit the TV screens. We all watched in horror as our country was attacked by its own citizens. Me? I held on to hope until April 1rst. It was no joke. One day before getting my first vaccine shot, I was infected by the virus. I had taken all the precautions but Covid found a way into by body through a food delivery service. It must have come in on a package of food and I must have touched my face after putting the food away. That one simple touch led to months of suffering and although I have escaped with a milder form of the virus, I'm still dealing with symptoms. It's no fun but I have to keep focused on the road ahead. I'm back to driving for Uber again and that gets me back to as close to normal as I can get right now and I'm grateful for that.


So, what does the road ahead look like? Up around that bend, who knows. We still live in strange times and there are all kinds of weird and wonderous things on the horizon. Last year it was the pandemic. It was an epic time that we are now just getting through but 2021 and beyond could be even more so. Not long ago, maybe no more than a month ago, people would laugh or mock you if you were to tell them you saw a UFO but now, reports are coming in and most of them are coming from people inside of our own government. This should inspire a sense of awe and interest in all of us.


As we meander along on our own roads in life, we should take everything in; the squirrels that scamper around, the birds and even the eagles that soar overhead. The bright blues of the summer sky and the puffy white clouds, with all of their glorious shapes and sizes that hang above us. And yes, there are people along the road that we should be attentive to also. Especially now, let's take time to appreciate their smiles and let's listen to their stories.


I meet a lot of decent and interesting people driving for Uber. These are a few of my favorite stories from riders:


The 19 year old Syracuse University student who needed a ride to the airport. Typical ride request you say? Not at all. This young lady was looking forward to a day of flying. At 18 years old she became a pilot, one month after getting her automobile license. She was so full of life and she talked about what it was like up there in the sky in her Cessna. She told me it relaxes her and she now has "much more empathy and respect for people and the earth. Up there, you see the big picture and it teaches you what's really important."


Before the pandemic, I picked up a young man, just out of college who was writing a book about the Amish. He was heading to the train station to take a trip to Pennsylvania where he was going to meet up with an Amish family on their farm and spend a month learning about their life style and culture. What an interesting thing to do! He told me "It's like stepping back into the 18'00s. I wish we could all learn from them; to live simpler lives, where we're not ambushed by high tech and social media every day. We're killing our social structures like family and even friendships by not living a simpler life."


Until next time, enjoy your travels on the road ahead.

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