From Porn Star to Shaman: Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover

Dont judge a bookProbably the best part about being a ride share driver is the opportunity to meet the colorful people from the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, that has been the inspiration, from day-one, for this blog.

The last few weeks have been particularly interesting, passenger-wise. One gay porn star shared his experience with me. He was on his way to a client. He had been hired for the entire weekend to escort a particularly well-known gentleman in the community. Let’s just say, the client liked to play rough (think leather, electric shock, restraints, champagne, and Barbara Streisand. Okay, maybe not the latter, two?)

Another person I was intrigued with was on his way to meet a shaman in Chico, CA for an iowaska ceremony. He spoke about how iowaska changed his life. “If used for spiritual purposes,” he said, “it opens your heart. But, you have to be prepared to explore your deepest personally held demons.”

When assumptions are broken

I consistently find myself being surprised by the people I meet in the Bay Area. They march to the beat of their own drum. I think it is natural to quickly make inferences or assumptions about a person when you first meet them. It’s engrained in us as we evolved this way. But, more often than one would think, these preconceived notions are broken! This happened to me when I made a pick up in North Beach, the historically Italian-American neighborhood in San Francisco. (Also, the same neighborhood that was the backdrop for the Beat Movement.)

My passengers, Michael, and his father, who were visiting the city on vacation, got into the car. They asked to be taken to a nearby cigar bar in the Financial District. Michael looked like a character out of the Sopranos. He’s middle aged and both him and his father wore suits. His father spoke with an Italian accent.

Michael asked me if he could request some music. Now, stop for a second and take note. What are you thinking? What music do you think he would request? Be honest!

He asked me if I had anything by The Smiths. I was so pleasantly surprised as I come from a long line of musicians and play and DJ myself. And, I love the Smiths! “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” was the first song that I played. Michael, with glee, rolled down his window and began to sing along. He knew every lyric. He played air guitar. I loved witnessing this ephemeral moment of a perfect contentedness that only music can bring us.

His father leaned over from the back seat, also smiling and said, “Michael, this song reminds me of when we used to live together in San Francisco.”

http://youtu.be/DRtW1MAZ32M

A pleasant surprise

A few days later, I picked up a very put together, attractive young woman, Celine, from downtown. She asked to be taken to the salon where she works, in the wealthy northern suburb of Marin County. We spoke about her background. She had just come back from Los Angeles and still had that post-vacation glow. She said she loved how people paid special attention to their appearance and dress when they went out. A frequent complaint about San Franciscans is that they’re too laid back and never dress nicely. One passenger at AirBnB told me about how the company has “formal Fridays” instead of “casual Fridays.” This way, employees can wear the nice button up or dress that they never get to wear.

Celine talked about living in the Sunset District. “Yes, it can be a little cloudy,” she said, “but it’s near the beach.” She told me how her boyfriend was an avid surfer and she is just as avid of a skateboarder. She wants to use skateboarding to gain better balance and agility so she can begin to surf too.

Making assumptions is something we do. This can be a touchy subject because no one wants to be seen as judgmental. Plus, assumptions can be harmful to others. Every time we meet others who break our preconceived notions (about anything), it challenges us. It causes a mini-awakening and takes us out of being on “autopilot.” When was the last time you had a preconceived notion or assumption, broken? What was it like? Please share!