Ben

(This post was from a couple weeks back. It was inadvertently removed so, I’m putting it back up.)

Sometimes I give a ride that makes me think I should have paid the passenger.  I had just such a ride two days ago.  I pulled up on the south end of Wash Park, which is the opposite end from my home.  When I found out the destination was DIA I was a bit surprised, as it is somewhat rare to have a mid-morning airport ride.  My expectation was, the passenger would be half my age, but when I saw him out on the porch I thought “Alright, somebody of my generation.”  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Lyft demographic that peaks around age 42, I do.  In fact I love being around that age group.  However, occasionally I appreciate interacting with people who remember life before screens.  We loaded up my trunk and headed out to the airport.  He sat in the front seat which as I have shared before, is code for ‘conversation’.   We exchanged the usual formalities, where are you flying to, and what airline?  He asked me very directly “How long have you been driving for Lyft and do you like it.”  My answer: “I started in November of 2015 and I must love it because I have given over 3,500 rides.  I was ready to jump off my deck (all 14 ft. of it) after about nine months of ‘retirement’.”  “Ha” he replied.   He then began to tell me a story of the business he founded 30 some years ago.  Without going into the details, he found out that there was an attempt afoot to force him out.  He was not ready and was able to take complete control of the business, which is now doing better than ever.  “I always thought that my goal was to get out of business, but in all of this I discovered how much I love doing what I do. I was threatened with having to give it up and now I don’t have to.  I am enjoying it more than I ever have.”

I told him, “I am quite the planner, visionary, and love imagining into the future to figure things out.  I did that very well for others but failed at doing it for myself.  After 39 years of being a chaplain, associate minister, and senior minister, I had NO plan of what to do in retirement. It was the hardest adjustment in my life.”  “I believe you” he replied, “And as someone who just brushed up against it, I value what I do more than ever.  You seem pretty engaged right now, how did you get there?” he asked. “About two years ago I met with my friend Jim, who knows me very well.  We had coffee in this huge mall in the San Fernando Valley.  The long and the short of it was—‘You need to become Mark Incorporated.  You have spent your entire working life working inside of organizations.  You have many gifts, experiences and insights.  You need to put them to work for you.  You need to write a blog’.”   My thought: ” What the Hell is a blog?”

At this point in my conversation with Ben I realized he was a great listener.  We talked some more.  I shared that my idea of retirement was being one of those guys in blue vests who hands out shopping carts at Walmart or an usher for the Rockies.  Those are noble services but I can’t stand up that long.  I used to joke that I suck at golf.  I still do, but now I play a lot with a group we call Geezer Golfers (three other guys from Pueblo who I have known since 1955).  I blurted out “I was just thinking the other day that I love my life again.  Driving for Lyft is beyond entertaining.  Writing this blog has given me a renewed sense of my love of storytelling.  And now for the next few months I am pastoring a great church in Greeley.” 

We spent the next few minutes comparing notes on the decline of Western Civilization, or at least the surreal state of our Union.  “Today Ben, you were better than a  $125 an hour therapist.”  And then he said, “Thanks, Mark Incorporated!”

Onward and Upward,

Mark

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