Photo by Thibault Penin on Unsplash

My Uber driver knows me better than my friends do.

Andrew Mensah-Twumasi
6 min readOct 31, 2023

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Last week, I went to a George The Poet event. A lovely event, which was filled with compelling poets and rappers.

Proph, one of the artists said, “My Uber driver know me better than my friends do.”

When he said that, with a smile, I began to listen on more intently. I was listening anyway (he was very good), but more so, because he’d touched on a unique experience.

However, I’ve always mindful of that notion, the notion that we open up at times more to people that we don’t know, letting our guard down. I experienced a lot of this when I travelled (backpacked) in 2012 and 2017 — experiencing unique bonds because of our experience.

It’s not too dissimilar as a driver. In 6 years, the level of sharing and stock I’ve had to take has been incredible! I’ve often said, riders and the interactions you share become a mirror of yourself — whether creating a space to be open, sharing a laugh and a joke, music, or posing questions (of each other and YOURSELF) in conversation.

As a writer and coach I want to share my experiences, reflect on them, and provide insights. These will be passages from my book and recent experiences.

From my book, ‘Hi, Andrew?! My Journey’ — the tale and journey of a mini-cab/ride-hailing-app driver. An exerpt from ‘Story #7’.

Story #7 — The Things You Don’t See

I picked up two women in Soho — enjoying the bank holiday weekend! They’d had a drink and were in a very cheerful mood! They asked for some music and we had a sing song — some karaoke! We had a conversation, and shared some banter back and forth…This was part of what I had been telling my friends about! My experiences!

There were two drop-offs…As we reached the first stop, I asked if they were ok if I used the footage as part of a documentary I’m recording. Jade, who was leaving said,

“Cool, no worries! Bye babe.” She gave a Jodie a kiss and off we went.

The moment we set off Jodie’s approach changed. Immediately! It took me aback for a second…I asked if she was ok as it may have bothered her…If she requested, I wouldn’t use it. Its primary use was for CCTV.

She began to ask me questions about my use of the GoPro. I explained that apart from its use for CCTV — in my time as a driver, I’ve come across many types of people. Experiencing things from good banter, to talking about mental health. I think these type of open, honest, and unfiltered conversations are needed — and they provide an insight into the life of a driver.

When I began this process, I never knew I would share these experiences with other people.

She sat up!! Surprised and taken aback by my response — she warmed to the idea! She began asking me questions about my experiences…I was very open — and we began to have a conversation about mental health.

She told me she managed in a bar in Canary Wharf — and with so many men passing through, she found the environment intimidating…And because of that — and her experiences, she would avoid giving men eye contact…Seeing straight through them! Walking from one end of the bar to another.

Working in a bar — a male-dominated industry, her anxious behaviour had been picked up by colleagues and friends.

Work had become her sanctuary. But also a new home to a lot her insecurities. She suffered these from previous relationships and depression as teenager…Drug abuse and poor decision-making.

We had been talking for 10–15 minutes now. She was very emotional — and by the time the ride had ended, she had cried. She was clearly still troubled and reminded of her past.

We discussed men and mental health.
She said she had a brother, and that they were really

close…But slowly, they had drifted apart, whilst she was managing her own issues.

Like some men, her brother had issues expressing himself. But her experiences allowed her to recognise the insecurities.

She said he had recently come out as being gay…It was a relief to her!

In an open conversation, he said he had felt that way for long time! And although he felt different to others, he wanted to be in a loving relationship — like his parents! But the stigmas around being gay meant he felt he couldn’t be in a loving relationship — and that he couldn’t have kids!

It was a very moving conversation!

I explained I was no different when keeping things close to my heart. I was very closed myself as a child. But with time, and through experience, I changed.

At each point in my life, there’s been progress — from high school to university. But later in life, with maturity, I learnt to truly love myself through travelling.

It’s where I met new people — learnt new skillsets. Having to introduce yourself almost every day and tell your story…Let your guard down! An environment where there’s no judgment zone.

I know we live in an era of social media. Where we get a running commentary on people’s lives…But there are some things that are important to keep to yourself.

Men, some of us, have been through a lot of things that we can’t explain due to the difficulty and stigmas attached. I explained I was reading ‘The Mask of Masculinity’ by Lewis Howes — which explained each of our masks.

• ‘The Material Mask’ — the man who chases wealth above all things.

• The cowering vulnerability that hides behind ’The Joker’.

• ‘The Stoic Mask’ — with men who never show real emotion.

• And the destructiveness of The Invincible and Aggressive Masks.

She said she’d discovered that friends and colleagues had also suffered from depression…They may not have been diagnosed clinically, but they had been through similar traumatic experiences. The only difference was that they hadn’t been on medication…As she had! Which had an effect on her life.

Many people wouldn’t have been diagnosed because of the time we were in. And because we’d been encouraged to wear a brave face — to put on a front — to hold on and harbour emotions, a lot of us have ploughed through life.

I have unknowingly dropped people to therapy…Continued working in the area, and then picked them up and engaged in an open conversation about the merit of speaking with people — with friends or a professional.

After being tense to begin with — Jodie had cried and had become really relaxed. The conversation went from tepid and uncomfortable, to open…She even began to share jokes whilst wiping tears from her eyes.

She was very thankful, and gave me her blessing to share the footage — footage I no longer have.

I was very happy she chose to share those experiences with me…Whenever someone chooses to share their life with you, you should consider yourself lucky and be grateful. Lucky someone thought you were special enough to share a part of them with you — their life!

Life has impeccable timing! And whilst she needed my ear, words, and support — the role she played was equal, and paramount in educating me.

I’ll be here every week posting and sharing my stores and reflections. But you can find more content — POV in the car, and short form content via my IG/TikTok/YouTube Channel @andrewmensahjr. And before I forget my podcast also, full of short stories — ‘Hi, Andrew?! My Journey’ — available via Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

(Click Me!!) Link for my book ‘Hi, Andrew?! My Journey’

(Click Me!!) Link for my YouTube channel

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