"You are the best fellow passenger I have ever shared a ride with: You have a great sense of humor, awesome social skills, ask precise questions and last but not least your open heart speaks through your friendly eyes. I think you are on a good path. Keep going."
How did he react?
It was a challenge for him. Closing his eyes he interrupted me after three words and said: "You know I don't like hearing these things." I said, "Yeah. But I want you to try." He did remain silent till I was done. Then all of a sudden he threw his arms up in the air: "Alright, this feels good! I'll take it! Awww... Thanks." We hugged. (And that's when someone stole my computer standing next to me which is why I haven't been posting. The two of us ran off into different directions trying to chase the thief. So- reaction to the compliment, extended version: A wild chase through Berlin! Unfortunately, no luck).
How did I feel?
A car provides limited space. It brings people together, for better or worse. A friend recently told me his dad would have it loud with him every time he drove him as a kid. Perfect frame: Two men, a short amount of time spent in an enclosed room.
I look back on ten years of ride sharing. It's cheap and environmental friendly. And spontaneous. Like yesterday: I decided to go to Berlin at 2 PM and found a ride going at 6. Shared rides are adventures. You never know who you'll be in the car with. Sometimes that rocks. Great stories, unexpected experiences or at least like minded people: If everyone agrees on taking a nap (except for the driver)- Perfect.
Sometimes it sucks. Like I said: A car has small space. Conversations can grow twice as big as the car when you don't enjoy them. So can songs. And smells. Cologne -Berlin is 580 km, that's 360 miles. Calculate 6 to 8 hours. I go to Berlin once a month. That is 168 hours per year.
Do I need to say more?
Yesterday we were 4 people in the car. A post graduate psychologist- Annemarie-, she was the driver. She loved boxing. Ernst, a radical right wing painter who described himself as a "people hater". Despite that introduction of his he was into people enough to join the conversation every now and then. He likes his girlfriend and street fights. And Peter, a design student who is about to spend a year in India, NYC and Budapest. He can draw trees with milk froth. The four of us made an interesting mix of people. I learned a lot.
it was one of those rides that turn into a profound discussion in no time: We talked about different kinds of psycho therapy and offered ciriticism. We shared personal insights and experiences, both in the field of therapy and outside of it. Yes, we did avoid certain topics, such as Israel and Palestine (with the right wing dude aboard it became clear rather quickly that discussing politics was not the best idea).
Peter Pfirsich made himself popular the minute he entered the car: He'd brought tons of fresh bagels from work (he's a barista). I was sure in the beginning that he was on something. He smiled slightly broader than appropriate and his affectionate responses seemed to come from cloud nine.
I loved how Peter interacted with Ernst (the painter): This guy was not the easiest to talk to. He remained silent for most of the drive while Annemarie, Peter and I did the talking. If Ernst opened his mouth what he said was about people being shot, people being punched or people behind bars. Peter treated him the same way he treated us minus the flirting. He called him "man" and "dude" and made it clear from the start Ernst was part of the crew. But once we'd started discussing psycho therapy he kept asking precise and clear questions. His voice turned sober.
When we arrived in Berlin we'd spent most of the ride talking. Not a single second of it was forced. I felt like I had known Peter and Annemarie for a while.
Peter and I went off in the same direction. A cigarette, a beer, a balmy summer night. the Landwehrkanal. We named trees along the way and told each other those tree's life stories. I told him about my blog and he told me about another project which I might like: 1000 awesome things. Thanks, Peter. I know now that Peter wants to be a photography professor one day. That he works on looking squarely into the eyes of the people he talks to instead of avoiding eye contact. I learned street screeming from him and he caught some opera shouting from me. When I complimented him I had known he was going to be today's candidate for some time. Actually he complimented me long before I did. Our hug was honest and fulfilled. I don't regret hugging him even though it cost me my computer: He was one of those encounters I will think back of for a while.