Ride Uber, meet the world: Part 2

Photo by Michelle Kim on Unsplash

On a recent out-of-state trip, I had the opportunity to use Uber for incidental trips. Last week, I shared what an ingenious concept Uber is, and this week, I want to tell you about a couple more individuals I met in these UberPool trips.

A most interesting driver was Mr. B, who is originally from Mongolia. I told him I had never met anyone from Mongolia before, and he said he wasn't surprised: The population of his country is quite small on a world scale — only about 3 million people — and he's been living in the United States for only six years. He came here to go to college, and he hasn't met that many countrymen in the States.

Mr. B and his family never go to restaurants, preferring to eat in and prepare traditional foods. What fuels Mongolia's economy? Mr. B told me his country is rich in raw materials, like gold and ore. This makes Mongolia, which is situated between China and Russia, very attractive for conquering by those countries.

The Uber ride came to an end too soon because we were just getting started on a conversation.

A most interesting co-passenger in an UberPool trip was Mr. S, a former naval officer who served on nuclear submarines. I told him I'd be scared to death to be on a sub and be miles underwater for indefinite periods of time.

Mr. S quickly corrected my misconceptions about submarine life. The depth is only hundreds of feet, not miles, and the sub stays fairly close to the surface much of the time. When on board, the crew staggers a six-hour duty time and 18-hour free time schedule. Among his responsibilities, Mr. S started off being in charge of the nuclear components, then eventually, he was in charge of communications. This meant he had to see every incoming or outgoing message, and these would be brought to him even if he was sleeping.

What do personnel do on submarines during free time? There's no internet, so you don't just use your computer to email or research. Instead, sailors read, play computer games, or watch movies. For many years, in the early days of videos for home use, Mr. S said the U.S. Navy singlehandedly kept the Betamax format alive since that was the only mode for viewing movies on the submarines.

How would I have had such enriching experiences without venturing into Uber? I do feel like I got to meet the world.

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]