Tag Archives: Uber driving

Uber New Year

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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.

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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).

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, heroes, humor, irony, self pity, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Driving, Driving, Uber Dallas

crazy old driver

I find myself actually working again and earning money.  This time, I am Uber driving.  Yes, I am driving around the Dallas, Texas area for a freelance cooperative driving service based on a phone app.   I pick people up when called and take them where they want to go.  I can work whenever I feel well enough to do it, admittedly not often enough to keep a real job, and I can choose where as well as when to work.

But it is not all rose-smelling wonderful work.  You don’t get to see or know anything about the people you are carrying in your own personal car before you have to decide if that is a good idea or not.  It is true that you will probably not be mugged or robbed by the passenger.  Uber knows where to find them if they commit a crime, and I can rate a passenger so low that it affects whether they can get their next Uber ride or not.  I probably won’t get raped either.  After all, a grumpy old man in poor health is probably not that attractive to potential rapists. But people talk to Uber drivers.  Well, all but the pretty young woman I drove to her place of work in central Dallas, but she was probably worried about the creepy old potential serial killer that was driving her and she didn’t get to approve beforehand.  And what people say when they talk can be potentially inflammatory, monumentally stupid, and, yes, this is Texas we are talking about, mind-blowingly racist.  I guess because I am a white guy in Texas, they believe I must be amenable to any toxic tirade that may bubble up in their pointy little heads.

But talking for a living is what teachers do.  I learned to do it well.  If you argue with a moron, you get his back up and he digs the trench deeper that he is willing to defend and even die in.  It is far better to listen, make neutral listening acknowledgements along the way, neither agreeing or disagreeing, and then when they allow you to state your side of the case, offer it up as “have you ever considered this?” backed up by coherent logic, and they may not only agree with you, but even commit to trying it your way even though you are suggesting the polar opposite of what they told you they believe until their dying day.  “I understand that you think Mexicans are dragging the economy down by taking services like public education without paying into the system through taxes because they are undocumented workers.  But did you know that most of them have taxes deducted automatically from every paycheck, but can’t claim anything in refunds… ever?  They are not eligible for food stamp assistance or unemployment payments without documentation and valid IDs.   And even green card holders don’t have all the rights of U.S. citizens.  Maybe we should make it easier for them to become citizens so that they could be productive American workers and everything could be legal again.”  They at least listen to me respectfully because I listened to them first.

And so, I have worked for Uber for over a week.  I have made fifty dollars.  And I think it works out to a little over four dollars an hour.  Wow!  Significantly below the minimum wage.  Oh, well, at least I am working and talking again.

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