The picture above is not a recent session of Uber driving. The truth is, I haven’t earned a single fare since the accident in August. Don’t get me wrong. I am still bankrupt and desperately in need of extra money, but I have had a long road of recovery and a serious loss of confidence to overcome.
And the mean streets of Dallas and the DFW Metroplex are easily as hairy to navigate as the scene above (Which is an artist’s recreation of events on Keller Springs Road while construction was still going on due to mini-mudslides.) It takes a good deal of confidence just to make your way along in a car and at the same time stay alive with a functional automobile beneath you. (Notice the little-boy passenger who was actually rescued by aliens rather than eaten by an alligator.)
And yet, you can’t avoid city driving. I have to do it every day even if I am not making any money from Uber. And there’s the rub. I was forced to retire early from teaching because my 45-stop-light-one-way commute was wearing me out. I experienced a black-out while driving to work one morning and narrowly avoided crashing into a light pole. I am not forbidden by doctors from driving, but diabetes and age are making long drives perilous. Signs were pointing to the end of enough energy to handle a classroom too. So, I retired on a pension and started Uber-ing for extra dollars. Any time I am planning to drive and feel the least bit light-headed, I have to change the plan and cancel the drive. I can still drive for Uber since I can drive whenever I’m actually well enough. And Uber is desperate as there is more work than there are available drivers much of the time.
Another rub is the fact that things have changed while I was forced into a break from Uber driving. Uber has gotten greedy. They have reduced fares in order to take business away from Lyft. But they didn’t take that reduction out of their profits. No, it had to come out of drivers’ pay. So, now if I do work up the nerve and energy to drive, I have to work harder just to make less than I did before. And we are independent contractors, not employees. We have to pay all our own expenses and we get royally screwed over at tax time since they don’t withhold any income tax.
I tried to do my first-in-a-long-while drive yesterday. I sat in my car, ready to go, for fifteen minutes before giving up due to “Still no requests.” And today I passed out after breakfast. So, maybe tomorrow, although possibly not then too. I really don’t know when I will see a giant armadillo driving a Cadillac again as I am on the road for Uber. I believe I must. But not today, and maybe not tomorrow.