God Is Moved

I posted this short devotional over on the Unfiltered Heart Facebook group today.


5 Ways To Get Great Passenger Ratings On Uber

I’ve now completed just under 400 rides as a driver for Uber. I know what makes a good passenger and what makes a bad one. Here’s my top 5 trips to help you keep getting the 5 stars and make a driver happy.

1. Clarify The Pick Up Details

When you call Uber you put in your address. The driver then arrives X amount of minutes later. Easy right? Usually but not always. Sometimes your driver will need further instructions. Fortunately the Uber app allows you to text or call your driver before they arrive. Use this feature!

Do you have a gated community or apartment complex? If so, either text the driver a message that you will meet him/her at the gate OR text them the gate number. There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at the gate and trying to contact a passenger who knew there was a gate and never told you. Did I say nothing more frustrating?

Did I say nothing more frustrating? Perhaps there’s one more thing.

Arriving at a gate and discovering it’s an exit and not an entrance. As a passenger you can prevent this. If there are multiple gates, you know this. The driver doesn’t. Sent him a text or give him a call and tell him how to reach the correct entrance. GPS has come a long long way but it’s not always right. Likwise, if you’re in an apartment complex and you have a block number or you’re not going to meet the driver at the front entrance then let the driver know what the number is and how to get there. Remember, the driver may have never entered that community before.

2. If You Want To Talk, Jump In The Front

Conversely, if you don’t want to talk don’t sit in the front of your Uber car. This isn’t to say that some people who sit in the back don’t want to talk, but sitting in the front signals from the beginning that you want to engage in conversation. Unless you’re like the Cameroonian I picked up who sat in the front because they wanted to use the jack to play music from their iphone. He then proceeded to play the same song on repeat 5 times in a row while waving his fingers back and forth in the shape of a peace sign. He didn’t get 5 stars.

3. Remember Your Manners.

An Uber driver has invited you into their personal car. It’s okay to take phone calls, particularly if you’re working. On the other hand, don’t be like the one passenger I had who talked for 45 minutes and spent the entire time on the phone call using words I can’t repeat. She never gained 5 stars either. It doesn’t take more than 2 seconds to quickly say, as many passengers have to me, “I’m sorry, I’m going to be on the phone a while.” Those who told me that also never spent the call cussing out the person on the other end of the line.

4. Don’t Jump On Every Mistake

Of my nearly 400 drives I’ve received two 1 star ratings as a driver. Less than 1% of all journeys. I am quite certain who they are from, although both of these people made it in time to their destination and in one piece. I’ve never had an accident, I don’t speed and I don’t yell at passengers who show up five minutes late. The passenger should expect no less. Why then is it okay to yell at a driver who due to road works misses one turn, or who is late to your internal time table because you called for an Uber too late to reach the airport in time for your flight. It isn’t.

If you think there’s a quicker way than the GPS is taking you then let the driver know. I guarantee they’ll follow your lead and not that of the GPS. Just remember, you’re then responsible for any mistakes that follow. Drivers aren’t perfect and the last thing they need is someone yelling because you think they’re ‘late’ to pick up. Equally as bad are frustrated sighs when road works prevent a turn etc. The driver already knows that’s a problem and he/she is working on a solution. Why not be part of the solution and not part of the problem?

5. Share Your Stories

Uber offers the rare opportunity to meet someone you may never see again. It’s a great chance to interact with people from a different walk of life and potentially a different culture. I can’t count how many Nigerians, Canadians, French, Ghanaian, Mexican and Chicagoans I’ve given rides to. I’ve asked questions of every one, shared a little of my own story and listened to them if they’ve been willing to share. Two people having great conversation leads to great connection. Great connection means 5 stars. You don’t do it for the rating of course, but it’s a small side benefit. The biggest benefit is the enriching of your soul.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2017

Today Israel remembers the Holocaust. I thought I would share my short descriptive essay of a visit I made several years ago to the children’s memorial at Yad Vashem.


It is the small details that make the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem in Israel, memorable. The fine prints, shimmering glass and flickering dim lights are a fitting contrast to the arid sun struck land outside its walls. It honors those it remembers through its simple and yet intricate design.

It stands in quiet tribute, situated away from the main hustle and bustle of the museum, and overlooking one of the five valleys of Jerusalem.. Small trees are posted at irregular intervals around the hilltop and they stand as silent sentinels. They are regal by appearance, and by their very presence. There is one tree for each of the individuals that secretly fought for, and protected the Jewish victims throughout the Nazi regime. Engraved with the name of each protector, a small stone sign graces the slender roots at the base of each stump. The name of Schindler can be viewed upon the most poignant of the plaques.

The building first appears as the walk from the outside court winds inward. It is immaculate and pristine from a distance. The trimmed, tall and vibrant greens of the plants offset the white washed stones of the walls, and the curving pathway leads to the center piece of the memorial. A small sculpture that is simple in style tells a profound story: The Nazis arrive to haul a group of children to the concentration camps, and yet their rabbi insists on going with. The Rabbi knows he is taken to his death, and yet recognizes his duty to the children.

Upon reaching the center a statement engraved in marble whispers the powerful words: “…over a million and a half children who perished in the holocaust.” Within the unassuming building that stands next in line for the solemn visitor, the Jews remember each of the young that had their lives stolen away. There is a deep and steadying breath before entering. The talking ceases. The first step across the threshold echoes with a light thud as feet fall nervously and softly upon the smooth surface of the interior.

The body and the mind pause as eyes adjust to the dimly lit room. The walls seem paper thin. They shimmer and appear glass like in the ethereal glow of a myriad of sparks that wave like candles. The lights move, flittering as if hesitant to remain in one place. A hand fails as it tries to grasp and touch the flames. Fleeting and yet remaining they are a haunting symphony of elegance; a silent paradox.

One candle and the placement of many unseen mirrors has taken the light of this single flame, this single race, and cast it in a flurry of directions. It is now uncountable and infinite, a light that refuses to die and be snuffed out by the cold hand of history. The reality of the holocaust is retold by a genius and complex design that does not understate the tragedy.

It is the next step. The ear distinguishes a single word in Hebrew; the inflections of the Jewish national tongue are noticeable. Again the word is spoken in English; the language that is universal and understood by billions. The death toll sounds a third time, in German or Polish. It is the repeated name of a lost child. Again and again and again it is heard, with different names and different voices. Sometimes the third repeat is Greek or Ukrainian, and sometimes French or Russian. The Hebrew is always first, the English is always second. The quiet and deathly melody of their home tongue is final.

The walk way leads in a circular path as the reflecting candles are refracted and mirrored on all sides. The names of those lost continue to be uttered. They will not stop for the recording is an infinite loop of sorrow. The heart stills in remorse and respect, as the moment sears into the conscience. The stillness is interrupted only by the shuffling of feet, faint and hesitant. None wish the sound of their movement to break the somber recollection of others that are within the hall.

There is a choice to continue along the circuitous route, and hear more names softly spoken within the hallowed monument. Few choose to do so. The affect is complete. The lights and voices linger in memory, repetitive and yet succinct. A solemn testament of those left behind.