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Business and LeadershipBusiness Travel

Uber, Free Enterprise, and America

By November 2, 2015One Comment

As a frequent business traveler, I spend more time than I would prefer in taxis, Uber cars, and other forms of transportation. But one of my favorite things to do in these situations, is to “interview” the drivers and hear their stories–as most of their stories are interesting.

Last week, I was in Chicago where I spent an hour with Uber driver, “Dervish.” My motivation for the “interview” was to learn from someone working directly in the so-called disruptive “sharing economy,” and also to simply get to know him.

This is Dervish’s story.

Fifteen years ago, Dervish and his wife, along with their two sons, were living in their home country of Albania when he applied for immigration to the United States. With a crackle in his voice, he told me about the day he received the letter from the United States of America granting his request.

When he and his family arrived in the States, he started out working in a factory in Chicago making $6.00 an hour, but soon got a job with a limo company and increased his earnings.

A few years ago he was able to buy an Uber car and he now “runs his own business.” His wife “works for an electronic engineering company” and his two boys have graduated from college, both with masters degrees. They too have good jobs.

Throughout the entire story, he kept repeating versions of, “This is the best country in the world. There is no other place where my family could have had the opportunities we have had.” He told me that most of his extended family and relatives still live in Albania. Most of them struggle to “get by.” None of them want to take the risk he took 15 years ago.

We arrived at the hotel at about 6:00 p.m. and I asked him if I would be his last ride. He said, “No. Business is good tonight. I’m going to keep working.” He then hustled back to get my luggage out of his trunk, shook my hand, looked me in the eye, thanked me for my business and said, “I’m going to give you a Five-Star Uber rating. I hope you do the same for me.”

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