Confessions of an Uber Driver
By Kristen Flowers
By now most people have heard of the ride-sharing app Uber but if you haven’t let me explain it to you. Once you download the Uber app I come by, in my little gray Mazda, and pick you up then take you where you want to go. The payment is done through your credit card and there is no reason to tip (but we will take it if you offer!).
My qualifications as a driver is somewhat limited. I am not a professional driver nor do I have a class C license allowing me to drive bigger vehicles. All I had to do was pass a background and traffic test and have a 2005 or newer vehicle four door car. After clearing all of those things I was good to go as an Uber driver.
Why would someone want to be a driver? It’s pretty simple. Money. That’s the reason that I do it but believe me when I tell you, this is not something you will get rich from. Also, after having moved here a year ago I still needed to learn more about my town and driving gives me a great excuse.
What it also gives me is some great stories!
The First Pickup
Off to the side of the road and reading a book in Midtown I got a ping, which means I am close to someone that needs a pick up. I accepted the ride and turned down I Street to find a young 20-something year old handsome guy in nice clothes. It was the ideal first pick up. He sat in the back, played on his phone and didn’t say a word until I dropped him off on T Street. Easy money. He was a great first client and helped me build my confidence as a driver, which I would need later.
The Afternoon Drunks
While you sit in your office working on important business there are people getting smashed all over town and lucky for me they all need Ubers. One afternoon, I picked up a man and woman in Midtown and brought them back to their apartment complex while they discussed the best way to give a guy a blow job. Needless to say, they were so drunk and could barely keep their eyes open while I laughed away at their techniques. It was a fun and educational ten minute drive.
Ugh, I hate pulling up to the people covered in filth and barely clothed. I have the option of declining the ride and driving away but it’s hard when they have already asked, “Are you my Uber?” as they look at the big Uber sticker on my windshield. This time it was three people, a woman and two men. The guys did not have shirts on and were covered in sand. One “gentleman” was wearing a bathing suit that clearly was too big for him since it slipped down exposing…well, you get the idea. Politely, I invited them into my car and once in, they rolled down all the windows and stuck their heads out “wooing” at everything they could. I breathed a sigh of relief when I dropped them off but then had to go get my car washed due to all the dirt. This is one of those times I wish tips were allowed.
Close to my house I got pinged and swung by to pick up a younger girl. Slipping into the front seat she informed me that she too was an Uber driver. I thought it odd that she was using the service instead of driving her own car but pushed the thought aside when she wanted to go on a long trip. The more mileage, the more money for me. But it didn’t seem worth it after she wanted to know everything about my car, the application process, why I had an Uber sticker, and how much money I was making. I realized at the end of the trip that she was not an Uber driver but simply someone who just downloaded the app and was wondering why she never booked any trips.
The “I Know a Shortcut Guy”
I cannot stand this person. My state of the art GPS system provided by Uber has never let me down and is taking you on the shortest possible route but you want me to go “your way”. I try to oblige people like this but it’s difficult to hear people mumbling directions from the back of the car and then yelling at you when you got it wrong. The only less than five star review I got was from a guy who swore he knew the back way to a Davis restaurant and when we got turned around, blamed me for taking us out of the way to charge him more. Considering how badly I wanted him out of the car I can say with complete sincerity that was not the case.
The Errand Runner
I normally don’t mind these patrons but I do feel a bit odd when I run them all over town. One guy that I picked up first thing in the morning instructed me to go to his neighborhood Walgreens so he could pick something up. Reading a book while I waited he returned with some prescriptions. Our next stop was the bank, where he took out some cash and that led to our final drop off at the bar which in a few hours will put him in the “Afternoon Drunk” category.
Let’s get one thing straight, if I am coming to pick you up, before you even open my car door I have already tried to fit you into one of the above categories. When I rounded the corner and saw my pick up standing outside the Safeway with Panda Express in his hand while wearing a flat rim hat, a dirty white tank top and sagging jeans I had him pegged for “The Drifter” group. Getting into my car he told me to take him home and on that three mile journey we got to talking. I was shocked how wrong I had been about this man. He told me he was celebrating passing his car mechanic certification class with a little lunch and an Uber. I asked him why he chose that as his celebration and he told me that he put all his money into his education and couldn’t afford a car, because of that he had to walk five miles each day to his school so he could make something of his life. He choose to spend his last few dollars riding in my air conditioned car. I wished him well at the end of the trip and I really meant it. His story struck a chord with me and that experience will remain with me.
The Drunk Girls
If you are an Uber driver in Midtown on a Friday or Saturday night you are going to get the drunk girls. Normally in a group of three, these ladies pile in with their skin tight outfits and ask for the music to be turned up only to scream to each other over it. The topics of conversation? They range from “my friend is really a skank”, “my boss is an idiot”, “I don’t need a man right now” and “I wish I didn’t have to go out tonight”. All of these discussions are talked about with the importance of the war in the middle east and trade embargoes but it’s hard not to be affected by their girlish laughter and upbeat spirits. For those minutes they are in the car I too am young again and unaffected with the daily struggles of adult life. That is until you pull up in front of their house and they are so drunk they forgot where they live.
Uber has provided me with some great stories and I have met some really interesting people. Doing this job part-time has given me a chance to meet new people, see new parts of the city and a little extra money in my pocket. Over all, it’s been a great experience but I am sure my attitude will change the first time someone throws up in my car.