Native

I hadn’t been driving for Lyft more than a couple of months when my son Mateo said to me, “You approach this like you are playing your favorite video game.”  Well, it is a fact that I am the ONLY person I know who ‘Saved the Princess’ on GAMEBOY Tetris in 1995.   I was privileged  to have a couple of gamers, when I lived in The San Luis Valley ask me, “So there is a princess on Tetris?”  I literally burned up a GAMEBOY playing that stupid game.   The year of my retirement I made this declaration “I will never again play games on my computer!”  It was sort of like my last drink; I did not see it coming, but so far so good, so long Candy Crush.  I do not consider Scrabble a computer game, rather it is mind gymnastics for my 67 year old brain.  It was a game long before screens took over the world. “Yes Mateo, my Lyfting is like living in my own personal video game, complete with sound effects, ratings, and levels!!!  On any given day you can have  your heart warmed or broken even on the same ride.  So in this story I am going to bounce around a bit; such is the life of a day in Lyft world. 

Now, on to the two young Russian adoptees that I picked up near midnight.

I pulled up in front of a small post WWII ranch style home just to the west of Colorado Blvd.  It was Friday night and I was glad not to be in the Chaos at 20th and Market or bouncing around the dive bars in the strip malls of Aurora.   There were two riders and they began to bring out a stream of bags, boxes, suit cases and a giant skate board…I was now Two Men in a Truck?  They were very kind and queried “We hope you don’t mind?”  I said, “It’s your ride, I hope you can find a place to sit.”  They got in the car and then put this out there.  “That was my Mom’s house, we need a break, can you take us to East Colfax and we are going to look for a week to week hotel.”  For those of you that live in Denver you know that the “hotels” on East Colfax are NOT the Embassy Suites, or even Motel 6.  They are more like the Talley Ho Motel in Youngstown, Ohio.  A placed picked by Mary Kay where you could spend the night smelling cigarette smoke, and listening to the ‘activities’ of the short term guests.  We were gone in two hours. 

It was about a 25 minute ride out to the ‘Hotel District’ so we entered into a conversation I did not see coming.  “We were both adopted here in Denver when we were six.  We came from Russian orphanages.”   “Do you have any memories of Russia?” I asked.  “I remember horrible alcoholism, chaos, hunger, and fear.  Then I was put on a plane and told I have a family in America.  Try to imagine going from having nothing to everything.”  he said.  Then she added, “I am very grateful for my family in America, they are very loving and courageous.”  “So how long have you know each other?” I asked.  “We met at a bus stop at Colfax and Colorado four years ago.  We are exactly the same age and came here days apart.”  We then made our first attempt at temporary housing.  They were back within two minutes. “Let’s move on.” We did.

They asked me where I was from.  I told them Colorado.  Normally I love playing the Native card but that night I was moved to my core by the love and strength these two immigrants were showing me. We found their temporary home on the third try. They seemed to feel confident that it would work for them.  I closed out the ride but we sat and visited for five minutes about life, love, pain, hope and the future of our country.  They then ‘unpacked’ Red of their earthly belongings. I know when I am in the presence of goodness, courage, honesty and love.  I told them so.  Driving for Lyft beats “Saving any damn Tetris Princess”, and I remind you the video game Tetris came from Russia. 

Everybody is from somewhere else; what matters is what you do, where you are. 

Onward and Upward,

Mark

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My 53 year old hat.
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My great-grandparents came to Colorado in 1873

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