My Life With Uber: Part Two – From the Bird’s Nest
My experience as an Uber driver has really been enjoyable. To be sure, there have been a couple of less than stellar experiences, but they've been very few and far between. Last week I began relating some of my experiences. If you missed last week's edition you can find it by clicking here.
To protect the identities, I have changed all the names of those involved, unless they are important to the story.
ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS DANCE - I got a notification for a pickup at a popular bar. It was an XL request, so I knew it would be a group. And, it was early enough to where I knew they weren't headed home. At the pickup a group of young women came out. There were six of them, which is the maximum I can carry at one time. They were all well dressed and were celebrating a birthday. One of the young women got in the front seat and said "Do you have an AUX cord?" (That's a cord that you plug into your phone which enables the music to go through your car speakers. I always carry one.) She plugged it in and started playing some heavy rap music. Loudly. While driving down the road I looked in the mirror and all of the passengers were dancing in their seats. Hey, they were having a good time.
But then a face appeared next to me. One of the passengers had a hand on each of the front captain's seats and was bent over. And, I got my first episode of twerking in my van. The other girls hooped and hollered...and then the video started recording. I don't know if the women still had her shorts on or not while doing her thing. Judging by the reaction, the answer was probably no. Snapchat is very popular.
WAIT...DID I JUST GET HIT ON? - I had a pickup at a wedding reception held at a prominent location. A couple needed a ride home. Laurie was coherent. Her husband Kevin, was not. He staggered to the vehicle and managed to get into the seat. It was a rather lengthy drive to an affluent area of town. Laurie was very talkative and we chatted about Uber, about his job and about her job. At one time, Kevin leaned forward and said something to me, but it was hard to understand him. Finally we reached the destination and I was ready to drop them off. Laurie thanked me and then told her husband it was time to go inside and she got out of my van.. Kevin leaned forward and, once again, said something I couldn't understand. But while he was mumbling, he had reached out and started rubbing my head with both hands. I'm feeling just a tad uncomfortable. Finally, Laurie tells him to get out NOW and he stumbles out. And, as I'm backing out of the driveway, he's blowing kisses. But he didn't give me his phone number.
I'LL BE RIGHT OUT--I received a notification to pick up a party in a (different) affluent subdivision. I pulled into the driveway and waited a minute, then called the phone number to let the party know I had arrived. No answer. Tried again. Nope. So, after a couple more minutes I went to the door. Someone answered and I told him I was there for the pickup. "Okay, cool," he said. I went back to my vehicle and waited. And waited. And waited. After about ten minutes, a second man came out and apologized for the wait. And, he gave me twenty bucks for my trouble. Now, here's the reason I told this story. This past week, Uber came out with a new policy. After the rider is notified that the driver has arrived, the party has two minutes to get to the vehicle. After that, Uber starts charging for the time the driver has to wait. And, while it isn't much, it does send a message to the rider that his group should be ready by the time the driver gets to the location. Previously, the driver could wait and had no recourse...unless of course, some nice guy came out and tipped him a twenty.
WOULD YOU LIKE SOME BEEF JERKY AS WELL? - I received a notification and headed for the pickup. When I arrived the only person I saw was an elderly man sitting on his walker. I was pretty sure he wasn't the guy, since he was dressed in a tee shirt, shorts and was barefoot. But after a minute I got out of the van. "Are you Uber?" he asked and I said yes. "Good," said Fred. "I need you to go to the convenience store and get me two packs of long Marlboro Lights and two Diet Pepsi's. And, he handed me his credit card. Now, Uber never said how to handle a situation like that. But it was pretty obvious this wasn't the first time he had requested something like that. So off I went, got his "order" and headed back to him. He thanked me for being so prompt as I returned his card. I've picked up several people from grocery shopping. But this was the first time I had to buy the groceries.
A LITTLE CASH WOULD HAVE SUFFICED - I had a pickup at the airport. It was the last flight of the night and it was after 11 pm on a Monday. A Vietnamese gentleman got into the vehicle. He was headed to a local hotel. He had no luggage except for a back pack. He told me another man summoned Uber for him and he had paid the guy in advance. He asked about restaurants that might be open. I told him it was after eleven and I couldn't think of anything in his area that might still be open. We got to his hotel and he mentioned food again. Now, I was headed home after the dropoff and it was pretty obvious the guy was hungry. So I told him there was a (chain) burger place open down the street and offered to take him. I couldn't keep the trip going because another person summoned the Uber. So I decided to take him at no charge.
We got to the drive thru and there were four or five cars in front of us. He said "I buy you dinner." I told him I wasn't hungry but thanked him. We waited. And waited. "Bring it home. Eat it tomorrow," he said. I thanked him again and said no. Well, we waited some more. And waited.
Evidently the man didn't have any cash (or wasn't willing to part with any of it.) but he asked me several times if he could buy me food. When I said no thank you (again) he got his back pack out and started going through it.
And, started giving me stuff.
Several packets of cleaning wipes. Eyeglass cleaner. An individual packet of mosquito repellent. Some gum. Two sets of earplugs. A Sharpie. A bag of Cheetos. A packet of instant Vietnamese coffee. And the french fries from his order because he doesn't eat french fries.
He was pretty excited he was able to "compensate" me for my time. We waited more than a half hour for his hamburger. But he got to eat. And, I can clean my hands many times.
But I haven't tried the coffee, yet.
If you'd like to know more about how Uber works, or maybe you want to drive in your spare time, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
More next week.