I knew the trip would be a positive one when I saw her 4.93 star rating.
The evening was warm. I’d enjoyed happy hour at the local pub. And I was looking forward to some air-conditioned silence for the ride home.
And then Fontina pulled up.
Two white horses pulled her Volkswagon Polo up William Street in Sydney’s East. A ray of green light from the intersection illuminated her face through the windshield. In the distance, angels.
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I will always remember the next seven minutes as ‘that time I fetched a life coach for the price of an Uber driver.’
Fontina was dressed unassumingly. Green top. Black tights. Thongs. Nothing to indicate I was really sitting next to Australia’s answer to Tony Robbins.
“What do you do with your life?”
At first, I was a little off-put. I was prepared to sit in blissful silence, and it was clear she was having none of it.
“I write for a media company.”
She reacted as if I'd off-handedly mentioned there was a rattlesnake in my bag: a hilarious cocktail of excitement and disbelief, that came over her in waves. It eventually hit home, she accepted the fact I'm a writer, and moved on...
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"You're gonna be SO fine in life buddy, you're a writer you must be super creative right?" I made the mistake of taking a breath and trying to answer this question. But it was rhetorical. She continued... "It sounds like you've got your sh*t together. You MUST have your sh*t together if you live in these parts of Sydney at your age and -..."
"Actually, I'm only 19 - I still live with my parents."
"Well OH MY GODDD they must be doing something right, what do they do?" Her toenails were painted a pretty pink, and she was focusing on me rather than the road. I had my hands poised to grab the wheel if the car started swerving into oncoming traffic.
"They own a company together."
"You're SET. All you have to do is listen to them. Every word they say. My kids? They don't listen when I speak. Ever. Your mother and father, they've seen it all before. They know what you're going through. They're out the other side. And they've done so well, by the sound of it. All you need to do is listen to them. They know what they're talking about."
Everything she said belonged on a #fitspo Instagram page, in bold white writing, across a vast landscape background. She was basically saying 'Listen to your parents'... but with passion; with oomph. The 'listen to your parents' spiel is a clichéd piece of life advice for any young adult. We've heard it a million times. But Shay Carl, manual-labourer-turned-millionaire-YouTube-sensation, says: "The best lessons in life are hidden behind the term 'cliché. When most people hear the word cliché, they tune out. But I prick up my ears."
So I set aside the urge to be dismissive of her advice. I set aside the urge to tune out; to nod; to sit in silence.
I pricked up my ears.
"Here are the three things you need to do..."
No time had passed since she offered the 'listen to your folks' advice. I hadn't asked questions or offered any thoughts. I actually hadn't said anything at all. That thought ran straight into this one. I'm not sure if she gives all her passengers life advice, or if she saw my future as especially prosperous. But her ideas were surprisingly well-organised, despite the pace with which she threw them at me.
"Number one - Do. What. YOU LOVE."
"I'm actually already doing what I lo-"
"Because that's so important, you know. You need to be happy with what you do. Ninety-five per cent of men and women in this country hate their jobs. And it only follows, that they hate their lives."
Woah. Bit drastic. Also not sure how accurate her statistics are or where she got them from. Maybe don't quote them. But the general gist of what she says? Bang on.
"Number two - You are the average of your five best friends." *Mic drop*.
She focuses her attention briefly back to traffic while I stew on this one. Textbook Tony Robbins. She elaborates...
"The people you hang around with are reflections of you. Be careful. Choose your friends carefully. It's hard when you see them going down a bad path. But all you can do is point them in the right direction. Then you have to step away. Let them make their own mistakes."
We're halfway home by now.
"It's all about the people you hang out with. Look at the WORTH of the five people you hang out with too, in terms of money. Add up what they're all worth, take the average... and that's your net worth."
That was factually inaccurate. However the core of what she said - that you're a reflection of the people you spend time with - rang true. I saw her point.
I was genuinely curious by this point.
"... set yourself goals. And work towards them."
Poof. Just like that. Everything is achievable.
"Set yourself steps. BOOM. When are you going to finish writing this chapter? When are you releasing your next book?"
I waited for her to continue. But this time, the question wasn't rhetorical.
"Oh, umm... I'm more of a short form writer. A few articles everyday. Personal experiences, opinions... that kind of thing, y'know?"
"That's amazing. You just do you. You are gonna be absolutely fine."
With this sentence, her chariot pulled up outside my front gate. It was late. I was glad to be home. But I would've very happily ridden shotgun with her, well into the night.
Ever wondered if your Uber rating is as high as Fontina's? You can find out exactly what your rating is. Post continues after video...
Fontina's little white Volkswagon isn't a suitable platform for her. It undermines the lessons she preaches.
She needs an auditorium...a stage. She needs a microphone and fireworks and people chanting her name.
It's not often you step out of an Uber feeling revitalised. But I did. I felt positive and engaged and comfortable with the position I'm at in my life.
And that's not something I've felt in a long time.
Before the ride, I had been wondering how an Uber driver could possibly have a 4.93 rating out of 5... it's so high.
But after it? I'm convinced 4.93 isn't nearly enough.