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Tales from the Driver’s Side: Meet the El Paso rideshare driver and devout lover of books

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- In a technologically advanced world consumed by digital media, one rideshare driver is proof that authentic connections can still happen anywhere.

Armando Esparza has been a rideshare driver for Uber and Lyft since 2021. Esparza told ABC-7 that this new occupation has provided flexibility and freedom unlike ever before.

His days are filled in the driver's seat picking up passengers and taking them to every corner of the Borderland. Unlike other drivers, Esparza is interested in cultivating genuine relationships with his passengers.

He is quick to offer complimentary candies and water, but in the backseat sits a box of books. All types of books, in different languages, and all sorts of subjects.

Esparza isn't quick to point the books out, but rather lets the passengers explore themselves.

He wants to share his deep passion of literature with others. He said this occupation allows him to do just that.

The small box of books is a quick conversation starter.

Some who come across Esparza and his backseat collection of novels take part in a special oath. A promise only a few dare to make.

Passengers who are interested in taking a book home must complete the 'honor promise.'

They must read the book in five days and give it to someone else when they are done reading it. The next person must also make the same promise, and so on.

Armando said he created this agreement because many times he would give away books and passengers would never read them.

He wants to share his love for literature with others, but he doesn't want to pressure his passengers.
The devout book lover will only offer books when someone shows interest first.

After that, he said it opens a door to get to know his passengers on a deeper level.

Armando said he likes to sow books in the lives of others. He compares it to the art of sowing seeds and seeing them grow and flourish.

"When you read it spark your imagination, your creativity, and there's no better exercise for the mind than reading," he said.

When Armando takes a break from driving around passengers, he's probably at a nearby bookstore.

He said he is like a child inside a toy store. This occupation has given Armando a deeper appreciation for life.

He said his entire life was spent inside an office space. Now, he's discovering the city all over again.

But Armando said meeting different people is the best part of the job. And some passengers said they enjoy the type of service Armando offers.

Passenger Diego Alvarez, who deeply connected with Armando, said he's making a difference and it's evident.

"He is leaving his own mark in this world," said Alvarez.

Armando said he will continue to drive passengers around the streets of El Paso hoping to inspire anyone he meets along the way.

And you'll always find him with books in the backseat.

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Rosemary Montañez

ABC-7 reporter and weekend anchor


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