It’s been a successful day in the “office” if she can take one thing off her passenger’s list of worries, Allred says.

Share story

DRIVER COMPANION
Wendy Allred

What do you do? I am a driver companion for Envoy America, which is an Uber-style rideshare service that recently launched in Seattle. Envoy is a service that is specifically designed for seniors, and allows them to schedule rides for a doctor’s appointment, grocery shopping or just visiting with friends or family.

My main focus is getting my passenger to and from their destination safely, but I am so much more than a driver — I’m a companion to them. Due to a partnership with the American Cancer Association, I end up bringing a lot of people to and from their cancer treatments. A lot of my passengers are on a very difficult journey, and it inspires me to see how upbeat and positive they are in the face of difficult circumstances.

Envoy’s service area stretches into neighboring counties, so a lot of times I’m spending hours in the car taking a passenger from Tacoma or Puyallup into Seattle for their treatment. It is delightful for me to meet so many different people and learn about their journeys.

How did you get started in this field? I’ve always been interested in caring for and serving others. Before I started working with Envoy, I used to drive a school bus for special needs students, and after that I worked in retail at a pharmacy. I really enjoyed these jobs because they allowed me to make new friends and form real connections with the people I was caring for. I started working with Envoy because it allows me the same opportunity to interact with people, but also gives me a lot more flexibility with my schedule.

What’s a typical day like? My day typically includes lots of fascinating conversations, laughter and meeting tons of new people! I have strangers in my car every day and it always amazes me how comfortable we are with each other.

Occasionally, I even go into appointments with a passenger. Recently, I helped a passenger get into an appointment because she was feeling too weak to walk it on her own. In the appointment, we found out she actually had the flu — so I ended up spending eight hours in the emergency room with her to make sure she felt better before I drove her back to her home.

What’s the best part of the job? Definitely the interaction with my passengers. I’m a social person and I really enjoy getting to meet new people and hearing about their lives.

A lot of my passengers are elderly people who can’t drive anymore or someone who is on their way to chemotherapy. These people have a lot on their mind, so it makes me happy to be able to bring them some peace of mind and help them get a bit of their independence back.

At the end of the day, if I can take one thing off of their list of worries, it’s been a successful day in the “office.”

What surprises people about your work. People who know me are always amazed at how much my passengers mean to me. When I pick someone up, for the duration of that ride I consider them an extended member of my family. I go meet them at their door and help them to the car, they sit in the front seat next to me so we can chat, and by the time I drop them back off at their house we have formed a real relationship. I am so lucky to get to meet so many inspirational people through my work with Envoy, and I keep every one of them in my thoughts and prayers.

Do you have a cool job or know someone in the Seattle area who does? Email us with your recommendations for people to feature in Cool Job.