Woman Forms Friendship with 88-Year-Old Uber Passenger, Quits Full-Time Job to Become His Caretaker
Paul Webb called an Uber to take him to a nearby Verizon store to get his phone fixed in March 2020. Jenni Tekletsion picked up the 88-year-old man in her gray Toyota RAV4 at his home in Columbus, Ohio, where he lives alone.
“From the start, we really connected,” said Tekletsion. The feeling was mutual. “She was very personable, easy to talk to,” said Webb, who was diagnosed with dementia several years ago and has been unable to drive since having a stroke in 2017.
The 52-year-old driver said she could tell how lonely Webb was. “I had a feeling that he needed help. I told him I live nearby his house, so I said, ‘From now on, when you need a ride, just call me.’ I will take care of you,” she told him, giving him her phone number. “He trusted me.”
Webb took her up on her offer, and she began driving him to do various errands. She began stopping by just to check on him, and eventually the pair began going to eat together every day.
Tekletsion drives for Uber in her spare time to earn additional money to send to an orphanage in Ethiopia — her home country, from where she emigrated to the United States two decades ago.
For more than a year, Tekletsion has driven Webb wherever he needed to go, free of charge. This past April, Webb’s health started to decline, so Tekletsion decided to quit her full-time job to become his caregiver.
“The hardest part was to build trust with his children,” Tekletsion said. “I explained to them who I am and where I come from, and that I don’t need anything from Paul, but I want to take care of him and help him in his daily life.” Her own father passed away in 2003 in Ethiopia, and she was unable to be there to care for him.
Webb’s children eventually came around, seeing that Tekletsion was sincere. “There are people in this world that really care,” said Keith, one of Webb’s sons. Tekletsion’s kindness is “an example of hope generated in a nation that can feel hopeless.”
Tekletsion took a 50 percent pay cut to become Webb’s full-time caregiver, but her new job came with “so many other rewards” that surpassed what money could offer. Plus, she added, her husband works three jobs, which affords her some financial flexibility.
“She is the real deal,” Keith said of Tekletsion. “She’s been there through everything. I’m just so grateful.”
Image source: The Washington Post, ABC6