When Your Uber Driver is “Mom”
They take care of you when you’re sick. They ask you about school. They give you a little spending money when your wallet is empty. Moms look out for you. They’re there for you—no matter what. But when you’re a college student living miles away from home, sometimes mom can’t be there (in person, anyway).
For a group of students at Fairfield University, “mom” is in fact just a tap away. Though their real moms (and dads) live back at home, they have Della—or as they call her, Mama P. These students (“my kids” she refers to them as) all rely on Mama P for the same basic things we rely on our moms for—comfort, safety, dependability, and sometimes even a home-cooked lasagna. So you may be surprised to find out that Mama P is no relative or close family friend of these students, but rather their frequent Uber driver.
With 2 grown daughters living out of the house and a boyfriend living in San Francisco, Della felt she had too much time to herself on the weekends. Though she works a full-time job during the week, she wanted to fill up her free time with something rewarding and fun. Her daughters recommended she drive with Uber, so she went ahead and signed up.
Since then, she’s built strong relationships with a long list of students who ride Uber around campus. When Nicole, a student whose family lives in Peru, got sick, it was Mama P who brought her to the hospital. It was also Mama P who sat with her for hours in the waiting room, and who took care of her for a week while she recuperated. “I was happy to share my home and help her out. I think the parents really appreciated that,” says Mama P.
“My daughters are thrilled. They knew this gig would be a good fit for for me. They don’t have to worry about me. I don’t ever have to be alone anymore if I don’t want to. I have so many children I can count on.” – Mama P
The parents do appreciate it. One morning, Mama P dropped Molly, a nursing student, off at the train station. When she found out that Molly didn’t have any cash, she insisted on giving her a little spending money for coffee and breakfast—something she would have done for her own daughters. “It was the nicest thing anyone had done for me,” remembers Molly, who barely knew Mama P at the time. “I told my parents and they couldn’t believe it.” Molly’s dad later sent Mama P a Facebook message saying thank you. He told her that he sleeps better at night knowing that she’s there taking care of his daughter. “I look at it like—this is someone’s child,” says Mama P. “I just do for them what I would do for my own kids.”
It’s true, she does. She sews and hems pants for the boys. She listens and gives advice. She let Nicole store boxes at her house when she went home to Peru for break. “I really do see her as my mom here,” says Nicole. “Our relationship is so loving. Everyone in my family is so grateful.” So grateful that later this year, Nicole’s family will host Mama P’s daughter when she travels to Lima during a trip to South America. According to Nicole’s grandmother, the entire city of Lima knows Mama P!
“Uber has been a fabulous outlet for me. As an empty-nester, I now have something to do with my spare time. Coming home to that silence on the weekends and having nothing to do was so against who I am. This has been the perfect win-win for me, and for these kids.”