Last month, a Lyft driver named Travis Grossi published a blog post about a project he started in his car. Travis placed a notebook in his backseat with “OPEN ME: #BOOKOFTHINGS” spelled out in block letters.
Travis, who calls LA home, explained that his reason for creating this #BookofThings was twofold. First, most people rarely have time for a little unfettered creativity during the day: “When we’re not busy staring at screens, we’re usually asleep,” he wrote. The second reason, Grossi admitted, was completely selfish. He was genuinely curious to see 1) if people would even be open to jotting things down during a bit of downtime, and 2) what they would choose to write during a 5-10 minute ride.
Travis gave his passengers a few prompts to get the creative juices flowing.
The first few days were a total bust. People would glance at the giant “Open Me” invitation, shift uncomfortably in their seats, then return to some absent minded app-swiping. He was shocked. He knew this wouldn’t be for everyone, but no responses? Travis didn’t want to make people uncomfortable by bringing it up, and he began to think, maybe people aren’t interested in a creative outlet. Maybe they just want to swipe.
Just as he was about to give up and remove the scrapbook from the backseat, a few passengers started to take interest. Travis wrote, “People started picking it up. And opening it. And laughing to themselves.” Then a few would grab a colored pencil or two and scribble away in silence. The result? Entries ranged from book recommendations, to posing meaningful questions, to inspirational drawings.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Since then, the idea has really caught on, and other Lyft drivers have reached out to Travis to ask if they, too, could keep a Book of Things for their passengers.
Local drivers even asked to meet up with Travis to share stories, and Travis is regularly updating his @BookofThings Instagram account with photos of the newest additions.
What was Travis’ favorite part of his little social experiment? He was blown away by how kind people were. Their messages were geared to uplift other passengers, not mock or sneer. Travis wrapped up his post with the thought, “It’s all too easy to see the worst in humanity rearing its ugly head all around us,” and that sometimes, “It’s helpful to be reminded that deep down, at the end of the day, we all just like to doodle.”