Lyft Drivers of Lately

Phoenix, AZ

Ahmad left his home in Kabul in 2021, when the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan. He and his family left in one of those big US Army cargo planes with no seats. They spent a few weeks in Abu Dhabi, then two months in New Mexico before settling in Phoenix, though his wife wants to move to Virginia where it is more green (he chuckles). His kids like their school here, though, and they all like their friends, one of whom helped Ahmad get his license and is helping him with English. Ahmad was a taxi driver in Kabul, so becoming a Lyft driver in Phoenix hasn’t been too hard. His eyes dart back to me often in the rearview mirror, watching what I say closely while weaving his way down the long road.

Scottsdale, AZ

Krystal is a phlebotomist who teaches phlebotomy. She grips her bubblegum pink steering wheel and tells me if she could go anywhere, she would go to the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, known for their ‘pimpish history.’ But Krystal does not have much time right now because she recently had to sell her house and is driving for Lyft in order to make rent on the new place while still taking care of her kids. She just got her son a job at a medical center, and that’s going well, but she’s worried that her daughter is too invested in her boyfriend. “You really have to look out for yourself,” she says, and then asks if I carry a knife with me. Krystal’s voice bounces between topics and struggles to keep a high enough pitch above the radio, but her care and concern are the through-line of our coversation. We arrive and she swiftly jumps out of the car to help me unload my luggage, and then she surprises me with a strong hug and a sturdy look before she bounces back into her car and rolls away, leaving a trail of pop music to tumble playfully out her window.

Charlotte, NC

It smelled and I had to ask. He responded no, he hadn’t been smoking, but added, “ Do you want to? Should I roll down the windows?” I didn’t, but we got to talking. Tommy used to own an after-hours club in Detroit and grew weed on the side. He made 10k a month in completely under the table cash from the dope dealers, strippers, and alcohol sales. He says he’s always been a hustler. When he was a kid, he got suspended for stealing the teacher’s candy and pawning it off to his peers, he recalls, smiling.
His daughter was born a few years ago, which brought him to Charlotte, to be closer to her. But not long after, she passed away. She had diabetes. Tommy stopped smoking and found god. He speaks of seeking the light in all things, of honoring his daughter, of moving forward. He’s in sales now, and drives for Lyft on the side because he wants to start his own logistics company, though the bond is a pricy 75k. He wants to make money differently now, “because of her,” his voice certain, his resolve earthen. Before we arrive, I ask him for advice on healing life’s wounds, and he reminds me that we all have to find our own ways back home.