Inagural Winner of The Sunshine Award: The Driver Who Went The Extra Mile

I have been writing for The Rideshare Guy for 5 years now and every day I am appreciative of all the opportunities to meet thousands of drivers from all over the country. This process was turbocharged after Show Me The Money Club commenced.

The SMTMC is the most popular live-streamed podcast on our YouTube channel, and tens of thousands of drivers trust us in giving them the correct information regarding the gig economy. In return, they have become my eyes and ears in many cities. I am honored and thankful.

During the SMTMC Livestream, we always mention the heroic efforts of rideshare drivers to help passengers in need, and last month after one of our own contributor’s suggestions, we established The Show Me The Extra Mile Sunshine Award. I would like to give a shout-out to Jeff Hoenig from South Carolina who came up with this wonderful idea.

🏆 Inagural Winner of the Sunshine Award: Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman

The Story of Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman from Oregon

We are pleased to announce Nathaniel as the inaugural winner of the SMTEMSA award and $100 dollars.

But not everything in life is about money. Nathaniel went above and beyond in helping an Uber passenger while 99% of other drivers would have canceled this trip.

It was my honor and pleasure to interview Nathaniel for our YouTube channel:

In life, we should expect the unexpected. Gig work is no different. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Rideshare/Delivery is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”

How Nathaniel’s Day Started

While driving during Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, Nathaniel started his shift at 10 AM. He had decorated his car and dressed in green hoping for a big earnings day shuffling inebriated passengers around.

He had just delivered some food on another gig platform when he decided to turn on the Uber app.

Nathaniel's Decorated Car for St. Pattys Day
Nathaniel's Decorated Car for St. Pattys Day

Accepting His First Uber Ping of the Day

The ping was for a pick-up of only 3 minutes away, but it came with a long trip 45 min+ warning.

As he was roughly 45 minutes outside of the Portland city center, he expected this trip to position him favorably for the festivities.

He pulled up to the pickup spot, and someone came out right away and told him that the passenger would be right out and that they loved the decorations in his car.

The Waiting Began

The building where he was parked was a rehabilitation and care facility.

After 10 minutes of waiting (he could have canceled), the same woman who now identified herself as the facility administrator came out again and apologized for the delay but said she expected the rider to be out momentarily.

Finally, after 10 more minutes, he could see three mask-clad ladies in scrubs assisting someone in a wheelchair, and carrying his belongings.

Nathaniel put the elderly gentleman’s bags in his trunk, he drives a 2023 Chevy Bolt EV, then helped the rider into his back seat. Even through the surgical mask Nathaniel was wearing, the odor of urine was unmistakable.

It was a pretty long process getting the passenger into my vehicle, noticeably in a great deal of pain, and looking worse for wear. The gentleman could not lift his own legs into the car nor buckle his own seatbelt. Oh, the smell, I was already regretting this trip but I felt horrible for this poor old man and there was no way to cancel the trip now! The first thing he asked me is if he could smoke during the ride since smoking was not allowed at the rehab facility. It broke my heart to tell him that smoking is not allowed in rideshare vehicles.
Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman

Starting the Drive Was a Shocker

When Nathaniel swiped right to start the trip, his heart sank, this trip would take him over 100 miles and nearly 2 1/2 hours to another state. This was quickly escalating into a driver’s worst nightmare.

Over 2 hours in a car with an elderly person in pain, smelling of urine, with certain dead miles for the return, add to all this EV range anxiety.

Since the likelihood of him catching a return trip was minimal, he started to think that he might get stranded in the middle of nowhere with no EV charging facility.

I suddenly found myself at a crossroads. Do I decline this trip and channel my inner angry driver, or do I come down off the hill and soldier on like the little happy ant? And so I kissed my Saint Patty's daydream of making bank goodbye, and started making my way toward Southwestern coastal Washington.
Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman

nathaniel's first uber trip of the day

Nathaniel stopped at a rest area along the Sunset Highway so he could give the rider an opportunity to take a smoke break he so desperately needed. It also allowed Nathaniel to use the bathroom, which he so desperately needed.

Nathaniel asked the passenger what his bathroom situation was and he responded that he couldn’t get out of the car even if he wanted to due to a broken hip. At this point, Nathaniel fully expected him to lose control of his bowels, and urinate in his car.

After a Needed Break, the Conversation Began

After the short break, they commenced the journey and started to open up to each other. The passenger was an 80-year-old, second-generation veteran of foreign wars, whose father was a naval midshipman in the South Pacific during World War II.

He told Nathaniel the horror stories about losing his friends at battle, and whose best friend was exposed to Agent Orange, and was struggling with Parkinson’s disease. The rider also humbled Nathaniel with his story of falling and breaking his hip.

Unfortunately, he was unable to be treated locally and had to recover at a care facility over 100 miles away from home, across state lines, and isolated from family and friends.

The more mountains, trees, rivers, lakes and majestic beauty we passed, the more I started to realize that I was put here for a reason. Once we reached the Oregon Coast, and started heading North on the 101, I realized that God was using me to bring this poor old soul back to the comforts of his home he had so dearly missed. This was no coincidence. This was more than just a ride. Sometimes with all the minutia and gripes we gig workers have, we lose sight of why we got into this industry in the first place. We love being of service to those that need it.
Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman

All’s Well That Ends Well

After two and a half hours, they reached their destination. Nathaniel expected his car to reek of urine—it did not. It actually had the faint aroma of fresh laundry to his surprise.

He also didn’t expect to enjoy a warm sunny day in March, or all the wonderful beauty of the Oregon Coast and SW Washington. I hope the older gentleman is doing fine and they keep in touch as they promised each other they would.

To all my brothers and sisters on Wheels, expect the unexpected. This may be the Sunshine Award, but I feel blessed to have been awarded with the sunshine on this day. We need to put our own perceptions about people aside and remind ourselves that we are needed by those we serve. I'm thankful I could be of service, and also that my EV didn't run out of juice. Made it back home with 15 miles of range to spare!
Nathaniel Hudson-Hartman

NNathaniel's earnings

My Take

We live in precarious times. Everyone is in it for themselves, only money and profits are considered a sign of success. I totally disagree, as much as we all need money to buy stuff, the rewards we receive by paying it forward are priceless.

It is for amazing human beings like Nathaniel that I still have faith in the survival of the human race and that we can fix all that is broken.

He is the type of person that goes the extra mile. He will be a lifelong friend to call upon in times of need because he is dependable, he is gracious and he is willing to give without expecting anything in return.

These stories are not told by gig apps because to them we are just a number, an expendable commodity, really, but I am humbled by this opportunity to cover Nathaniel’s story, my brother on Wheels!

Driver Takeaways

Sometimes the job is more than just a job. It’s easy to forget that humans are relying on our services. Sometimes the situation is as simple as driving them to work, to hang out with friends, or just getting them out of the house for a bit. But there are moments in there as well where drivers are making a big difference.

It’s not always as obvious as Nathaniel’s story, where he clearly made a difference in his rider’s life and helped him gain back a quality of life level that he’d been denied while in recovery. But, drivers are helping people whether you realize it or not.

Sometimes it’s worthwhile to wait it out and not cancel on a late passenger. We’ve all had days where everything is going wrong and you just don’t make it out the door as quickly as you expected. Sometimes waiting is the right thing to do.

Please, forward me your stories where you paid it forward and went the extra mile, and leave your comments below. Would you have completed this trip? Would you have canceled it?