‘He hugged me and cried’: Woman searches for Palm Springs Uber driver after heartwarming encounter
PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. — Erin Barsness is on the search for her California Uber driver hoping to welcome him into her family.
On Sunday, Barsness posted on Facebook about her chance encounter with an Uber driver named John on the way to the airport in Palm Springs, California. Her post has been shared tens of thousands of times.
All she has to remember him are a photo and his first name.
“It was an incredible, life-changing experience for me, and John said it was the same for him,” Barsness said.
She said she knows life moves fast.
“So many people are moving so fast through life that they don’t have a chance to look around or see that somebody else needs someone else there for them,” Barsness said. “We need to live in the moment and slow down a little bit.”
She suggests slowing down to appreciate where we’re going and who’s getting us there.
“I met an incredible person and he just happened to be my Uber driver,” Barsness said. “I asked, ‘Hey can I sit in the front seat?’ and he was taken aback, and he said, ‘Of course.'”
Barsness said John reminded her her late grandfather and she reminded him of his daughter who died three years ago.
She said John told her that his daughter’s husband died shortly afterward, leaving behind their 4-year-old son.
“My heart dropped to my stomach,” she said.
On the ride, they opened their hearts to each other all the way to the airport, according to Barsness.
“He hugged me and cried on my shoulder, and I knew it was just a special moment for both of us,” Barsness said.
It’s an experience they both could’ve easily missed.
“In a 25-minute Uber drive, I (could’ve) spent scrolling social media, instead of a life-changing conversation with an incredible human,” Barsness said.
She took the story to social media, hoping to reach the man who taught her the greatest life lesson she’s learned in a while.
“That is: No matter what you’ve gone through, no matter what you’re suffering with, no matter what tragedy has struck your life, you can still be a kind person. You can still be compassionate,” Barsness said. “He said, ‘Don’t let the world make you hard. Keep smiling your heartwarming smile.'”
Now, in snowy Wisconsin, she said she hopes this message makes it all the way to sunny California:
“John, I would tell you, you are so welcome into my family, and I hope that I get to talk to you again,” Barsness said.
Whether the ride was a chance encounter or a predestined detour, she is left with the reminder that life’s not about the destination but the journey and those you connect with along the way.
“We were made to cross paths,” Barsness said. “It’s pretty beautiful if you think about it.”
She said she is working with Uber to find John but is running into some roadblocks.
“I truly truly hope this reaches him!!” Barsness wrote in a Facebook post. “PLEASE help me find John! My family wants to meet him and welcome him into our family.”
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