Skip to main content
first person

First Person is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.

Illustration by Drew Shannon

During a six-hour Uber ride from Regina to Winnipeg, my business partner and I were reminded of a valuable life lesson by our driver. I’d like to start off by saying that we didn’t plan on taking a 572-kilometre Uber ride. Jonah and I had recently launched a new company, a real estate capital advisory firm, and as part of our launch, we were travelling across Canada to meet with clients and lenders.

We were in Regina for a lunch meeting and had an early breakfast the next day in Winnipeg. We planned to fly since the trip is just over an hour by air. Unfortunately, all direct flights had been cancelled due to low demand during the pandemic, so we booked a 7:30 p.m. flight that would take us from Regina to Winnipeg with a layover in Calgary. For those not familiar with Western Canadian geography, this backtracking route would take us about an hour west to Calgary, only to catch a flight 30 minutes later flying east, right back over Regina to land in Winnipeg. With this itinerary, we wouldn’t arrive at our Winnipeg hotel until close to midnight. We made the booking, reluctantly, since the trip was important.

Then we woke up Thursday to a beautiful bluebird day, where the temperature was just above freezing. Over breakfast, I suggested to Jonah that we should cancel our flights and rent a car. The weather was good and the roads were clear, it would be faster and more efficient. Plus, we could take in the scenery. The drive is about six hours so in theory, we would arrive in Winnipeg around 7 p.m., before our original flight was supposed to take off. Jonah agreed. We refunded our airline tickets and booked a rental car. We were all set.

After lunch, we hailed an Uber to take us to the car rental office at the airport. During the eight-minute ride, we reviewed the reservation. Something jumped out that we hadn’t noticed before… in bold writing, it emphasized that our reservation could not be used for a one-way trip, i.e., the car had to be returned to the same location in Regina.

Uh-oh.

In a panic, we started calling around to other rental agencies.

On one of my calls, I half-jokingly asked: “What happens if someone rents a car in Regina… and it just so happens to end up being returned in Winnipeg?” Before I could even finish, the agent cut me off to tell me it was a terrible idea. He went on to explain the multiple ways I would get in trouble, which ranged from a hefty fine to potentially being banned in their company’s system.

We continued calling around. Surely the agents on the other side of the phone could hear the desperation in our voices, but the answer was always the same: There were no cars available for a one-way journey.

After being turned down politely for the fourth or fifth time, I responded to one agent, “No problem, sir – wish me luck!”

Jonah and I were defeated. Our heads hung low in the backseat as we realized our only option was to rebook the same flights, likely at a much higher fare, or face the hefty fine and other repercussions for returning the car to the wrong location.

The car was silent as we quickly approached the airport when out of nowhere our Uber driver spoke up.

“How about I drive you to Winnipeg?”

“Really?” We were shocked.

He looked back at us, smiled and said: “I’m up for the journey if you boys are!”

We agreed on a price, shook hands and without slowing down our driver, who told us to call him by his initials YC, pulled a U-turn at the airport entrance and turned onto the TransCanada highway. YC didn’t talk much. He understood that we were in the middle of a workday and was respectfully quiet as we took calls and tapped away on our laptops in the back seat. He did crack a joke here and there, and we spoke briefly about our respective families, but for most of that drive, Jonah and I were busy working.

About three hours into the trip, while the sun began to set on the Prairie horizon, there was a lull of silence in the car. YC spoke up: “Do you guys know when I decided I was going to drive you to Winnipeg?”

Jonah and I looked at each other confused. We shook our heads.

“David, do you remember what you said to that person on the phone earlier?

I couldn’t remember.

“Jonah, do you remember what David said to someone on the phone earlier?”

“No” he replied, still confused.

“When you were on the phone,” YC continued, “you ended the call by saying to someone: ‘Wish me luck.’ It was at that moment that I decided, today I was going to be your luck. One day in the future… I hope someone will be my luck.”

Jonah and I sat there speechless. The hairs on my neck stood up as the gravity of his kindness sank in.

Before this ride, YC was a complete and total stranger. He owed us nothing, yet still inconvenienced himself for 12 hours just to ensure our plans could stay intact.

The moral of the story is one we all hear often, but sometimes need reminding of: what goes around comes around. Be someone’s luck.

David N.H. Bell lives in Toronto.

Sign up for the weekly Parenting & Relationships newsletter for news and advice to help you be a better parent, partner, friend, family member or colleague.