On my recent trip to New Jersey, I decided to finally embrace another facet of twenty-first-century technology by ordering an Uber to get to and from the airport. I am happy to report that, despite my anxieties and fears, I did not end up buried in a landfill or swimming with the fish. Both drivers were professional, personable, and polite. It was my second driver, however, who impressed me the most.
When I glanced at the Uber App on my phone, I noticed that I was able to review his profile. I noticed Carlos was from the Dominican Republic, so I asked him if he had a story. He enthusiastically told me the tale of meeting his American wife while she was on vacation in his homeland. They danced the nights away, and she made many return visits to the island.
Five years ago he moved to America and married her, and now with his green card in hand, he is working as an Uber driver and studying to become a citizen. He proudly told me that he is enrolling in the local community college to study criminal justice with the plan of one day becoming a police officer. He hopes that, as a citizen, his mother will be able to join him here.
Although he did not speak English when he moved here, I was impressed by his command of the language now. I thought about all the people on the western end of the island of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic is located—the “shithole” country of Haiti as our president calls it—and wondered what he thought of his adopted country.
I told him how impressed I was with what he is doing with his life and said I hoped he was not discouraged by all the negativity towards immigrants of late. I thought of the talk of limiting “chain migration”—the program whereby immigrants already residing here can bring their family members to live in this country with them. (Incidentally, the correct term is “family unification”)
Carlos sadly told me how much he misses his mama. Will she be able to someday move here?
As I listened to Carlos describe his hopes and dreams, I felt an increasing sense of worry for him. When I made the decision to dip my toe into the world of Uber travel, it never occurred to me how much more than a ride it would be. I wonder who I will meet next.