Ultimately this was a fun social experiment discovering meaning out of 100 brief connections with silicon valley strangers as an Uber driver.
Here are the Top Five #UberFails as a driver:
1. Ride #87. Cost conscious 49ers taking Uber Pool to save money.
As I started driving a couple for Uber Pool, I received another request for a pool ride very close by. I drove over and two 270+ lb men holding drinks in hand on the side of the road. There was a moment of fear for all of us on whether we could squeeze into my hatchback with these huge strangers. The two guys were immediately very courteous and polite by saying hello and diffusing the situation with ‘how are you’s’. I checked the couple in the back to see if they were okay and I asked if the new guys would want to wait for another one. Since the first couple only had a short ride, we squeezed in.
Very quickly we learned that the new guys were 49er players trying to make the team and had just played tonite. One played on the offense – 2 catches! The other played defense and sacked the quarterback! I wonder if he got Cal grad Aaron Rodgers or if it was a backup.😛 Despite being fans or players of opposing teams, the folks were friendly and no fights ensued. (Don’t mess with the 2 big 270 lb dudes)
Despite the aura of being NFL athletes, the pair was very cost conscious. They were trying to make the team just like Jimmy Garappolo before he started playing so well. There was a deliberate decision to use pool vs uberX to save money. The hope (as with many pool riders) is that they might not need to share if it’s late at night. The second reason was that they discussed looking for an apartment to share if they made the team. One of the guys discussed finding a decent 2 bedroom condo at about $2700 which is pretty good in the bay area. I’m used to hearing people pay over 3K for a 2 bedroom. I wished them best of luck and would root for them to make the team and have a great season.
Update: The offensive player made the team and the linebacker made the practice squad.
Sign up and Drive – Uber’s $750 incentive for hitting 100 riders (promotion changes from time to time)
Lyft driver sign up promotions are good too.
2. Ride #2: OMG, I picked up my neighbor – I hope he doesn’t recognize me!
Uber pinged me a familiar address. Oh crap – it was a neighbor who only lived a half block down from me. I’m not embarrassed about being a Uber driver, but it feels awkward to me to pick up some one I might know. I drove to the house and no one was there.
Then I got a call from the rider. He explained to me that his Uber app was not adding the address properly and that he was really at a local dive bar. He provided the address and I went over. He had been drinking and he explained to me that a fellow drinker was slurring and mumbling to him so he wanted to go some place else. On the phone, he was very clear about making sure he wasn’t paying a fare (i.e., as a driver there is a “start” slider to trigger the beginning of the ride) until I actually picked him up.
“Where you from?” he asks. I lied to him and told him Milpitas (a neighboring city) so as not to raise suspicion or invite questions about being in the same city. I dropped him off at the next dive bar and moved on.
As I gain courage and comfort in my new job as an Uber Driver, I prefer to remain anonymous. Being recognized by a neighbor while I’m still learning a new job is a bit nerve-wracking. Being recognized by a married, drunk neighbor I’m shuttling from one dive bar to another to increase his chances of meeting a girl may be embarrassing for the both of us. Fortunately, he did not recognize me.
3. No. 50 – First ride of the night resulted in me hitting a black cat.
I was driving a girl from the Philippines who moved to California for a new life. On our way, there were some smaller roads and this black cat jumped in front of me. It stopped and froze as it stared a my headlights. I braked and tried to safely avoid the cat, but then I heard the sound of my car rolling over it -bump, bump over the tire when it tried to make a last second dash away. I won’t be able to un-remember this crunching sound. I feel terrible and never want to hurt, let alone kill an animal. It may have been someone’s pet. The next day I went back to the site with my kids to re-trace my steps and pay my respects to the cat. My daughter sang a mourning song.
The rider did not realize what had happened until I told her. She was on her phone. She was ok.
4. No. 74 Rider: Tell Candy at the Cheetah club for me, her Uber driver says “Hi”! I picked up this pair of students as part of an Uber Pool ride with the friendly couple above. As a standard question, I ask where they were going. The students didn’t say much except that it was near Santa Clara.
#UberFail: Learned that in Uber pool, asking about destination or what your plans are for the night may be a little bit tricky – especially when you’re going to a local strip club.
After I dropped off the other couple, the students ‘fessed up and noted that that it was a guys night out with the boys. He explained why he was being a little bit coy earlier with the other married couple in the car. We laughed about the importance of privacy in the car, then we hit an ATM at a local Bank of America and I dropped them off and wished them a wonderful time.
5. Rider #16 – Woe is the non-married one in a Korean love triangle:
It was 2AM, it was really time to go home. I’m 20 miles away, but I figure I’ll try to find another rider headed in my direction. Seriously, I need to just turn off the app and go home. Ping! I drove to my next stop – a Korean Karoake bar. (Maybe they were singing to the hottest new korean boy band – BTS.) When I got there, I had to wait a bit for the folks to get to my car. After a few goodbyes with their friends, a guy and girl got into my car. He punched in the address . . . Santa Cruz!!!!! Oh man, I’m going the wrong way – an hour farther south from my warm bed. I debated whether to take this fare or not, but it was a good fare . . . especially since the guy was going to need a ride back as well.
I drove the windy road down to Santa Cruz while they conversed in Korean the whole time. The pair had been drinking, so with fear that some one might throw up, I asked them if they were ok. They responded that they were ok and asked if I was ok. Once we arrived at the destination, the pair had a smoke outside and chatted. They hugged and he got back into my car. I invited him to the front seat – I probably needed some help staying awake.
Then things got a bit juicy. He said that he was dropping this girl off at home and that the husband was at home. Every few weeks when they would Karaoke or go out drinking – he would pay for Uber to take them home. What?? He explained that he’s known this girl for 20 years and that he liked her, but that it was complicated. He even said the husband knew that he liked her. Also, she would call him when she needed some one to talk to and he would be attentive to her. He was friends with the husband and the husband would also ask him to make sure his wife was safe. How unfortunate, love that can never fully be fulfilled.
Uber’s $700 incentive for hitting 100 riders
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