Who knew that being an Uber driver required the skills of a swashbuckling hero?
But that is exactly what it is. I am approaching the end of my first $100 dollar week. And I have already been on a harrowing ride through the world of ride-sharing for money.
The key to successfully picking up and ferrying passengers to the site of their choosing is a matter of being personable and at ease with driving and talking. Of course, I have talking skills. My whole 31 year career was a matter of learning to effectively talk to kids all day long. And you may not believe this, but adults, people who actually have money and the freedom to choose their own path, are easier to talk to than kids. I have learned about people’s families, people’s jobs, opinions of their bosses, opinions of the government and taxes, and even some tell me about their love lives, both directly, and second hand. If there are two in the car, then they forget that the driver has ears and can hear (within the limitations of really old ears).
One recent passenger was absolutely convinced that no Uber driver actually knows how to drive. That passenger sat in the back seat and sent a barrage of traffic warnings and worries forward for me to deal with at the same time I was watching the road ahead. It was almost exactly as harrowing as driving with my wife as a passenger. I felt like a child again, driving for the meanest teacher I ever had growing up. (Sorry, Ms. Rubelmacher, I learned a lot from you. Don’t give me detention for writing that.)
But why did I say “Swashbuckling hero” if I am only going to talk about talking to passengers? And why all the Batman gifs?
Well, I am talking about driving in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, ain’t I? Do you know what Texas drivers are like? On Saturday I picked up a coach headed for a retirement party at a Luby’s on the border of DeSoto (a southwest Dallas suburb. That was a twenty-two dollar trip from east-central Dallas catty-cornered all the way across the city in a diagonal direction on the tollway and then I-35 South. I had three cars cut me off for driving too slow (by which I mean the speed limit. Hey, Uber monitors that through their app.) The Uber Navigator told me to keep right at a time when keeping right nearly threw me off 35 onto an intersecting highway, so I had to make a quick two-wheeled Starsky and Hutch turn through the corner of the median to stay on course. (Fortunately, Uber can’t monitor that.) Dallas drivers are a combination of speedy predators in WASP rockets, Texas killer grandmas in Cadillacs, and Elmer Fudds going too slow in classic cars from the 50’s. They provide you with a booby-trapped obstacle course to drive through, and go so fast that the speed limit becomes dangerously too slow.
So I definitely appreciate Batman for providing me with all the animated illustrations to use for portraying the high-risk life of an Uber driver. It makes driving this way easier to pretend that I am one half of the dynamic duo driving the Batmobile in Dallas downtown traffic. Yes, it’s true, I am saying I pretend to be Batman.