A Backseat Perspective – Straight Outta Compton

While most talk of driving in LA focuses on traffic, I have recently enjoyed my drives around town, specifically when I am taking a Lyft or an Uber. I have met an array of sweet people with interesting stories.

The other day, around 9:00 p.m. in Downtown LA, I was ready to go home. My driver arrived quite quickly, and I hopped on in the car.

I smiled as I saw the Tootsie Pops and mints set out in the backseat. After our hellos, the driver promptly asked me what kind of music I’d like to listen to—he had Sirius, he made sure to point out. Oh, anything, I said, my default response. But he wanted to know what I was currently listening to. Well…may have been Taylor Swift. “Ok, I think I can find you something.”

How sweet, I thought. This giant (he looked exceptionally tall and broad) middle-aged man is searching the radio for something like Taylor Swift.

Next thing I knew, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was playing; I laughed inside. Close, so close. But then, “Womanizer” by Britney Spears came on—perhaps this is a journey toward Taylor Swift.

The driver asked where I was from, and I asked the same of him. “I’m straight outta Compton,” he replied.

Raised in a single-parent home, he led a rough life at times. He used to work in music—he claims to have known Dr. Dre earlier in life. As a teenager, he made music and partied at the “soda pop” club for kids under 21 on El Segundo and Avalon. He made mixed tapes and thought he’d make it big.

Then he got sick. He suffered from diabetes for years—untreated because he lacked health insurance. “Obamacare saved my life,” he said. Now he’s back on his feet, driving for Uber and writing poetry that is sold at Christian bookstores.

I noted that certain times in his life must have been tough. “Yes,” he said, “but there is no growth without pain.” I love driving in LA.