Once upon a time there was a young woman who believed in fairy tales named Alice. She had read a whopper of a tale, something about how the average Uber driver in NYC makes $90,000 per year, and how easy and fun it was to make “great money” during her free time. She doesn’t live in NYC, but her city is pretty big and there are a lot of college students who don’t own cars there. She decided to try it out.
Down the rabbit hole
Alice’s vehicle was 18 years old and did not qualify for Uber, so she decided to buy a ‘more recent’ vehicle. But Alice is no dummy, she knew that if she went to a used car dealership that they would talk her into some piece of overpriced junk. So instead she went to a new car dealership with the intention of buying a used car. After all, a new car dealership is more honest, right?
The salesman was a really nice guy, who had a terrific handshake and nodded his head a lot. It appeared that he really cared for her and wanted to do everything in his power to make her happy. Not at all what she expected from a car salesman! When she told him that she was buying the car to do Uber, he got real excited. He said he was thinking about doing it himself, what a fantastic way to make some extra money! He told her that if she wanted to do it right she should get a new vehicle, it would come with a warranty, and that it would (obviously) be free from any hidden mechanical defects that used cars sometimes have, and that he could get the payments down to under $350 per month for her because her credit is so outstanding.
Alice figures that with a new car, customers were likely to be more impressed, and with the extra tips that she would get she would pay it off in no time. She hasn’t ever tipped a driver herself, but is positive that everyone else on the planet does, so she should be fine!
Alice bought a new car. She was ready for her great Uber adventure!
The Walrus and the Carpenter
On her first day out Alice asked herself, Where should I go to make the most money? The first thought that popped into her head was the airport. After all, there are planes landing all the time, and when you get a ride it is always a big one, right?
Alice had been told by most of her past Uber drivers that the airport is a horrible place to go. But Alice is human, and humans have to find out for themselves that the stove really is hot even though mommy and daddy said don’t touch. Alice promptly drove to the airport holding lot, then turned on her app. And waited.
She decided to get out and talk with some of the other drivers that were around there. She tried strolling by a man who was wiping his windows down. He didn’t even look at her, obviously he didn’t want to talk. Okay, no problem, next….
She walked over towards a gentleman just standing there, leaning on his car. I’ll chat him up, she told herself. As she got closer, the man started speaking random sentences in a foreign language. Oh, he has a Bluetooth in his other ear, he is on the phone. Oops.
She heads towards the firepit, er, the smoking area, and braves the cloud of smoke. The drivers were all staring at their phone while simultaneously telling stories about passengers. Every story started with “I got a guy….” and ended with “Can you believe that shit?” The stories were fascinating to Alice, but seemed like they were commonplace to the other drivers there. She wondered if any of them actually knew each other, they seemed friendly, but something was off ...
Alice eventually got a ride, and made a few dollars, but decided that the airport really wasn’t the place for her unless she wanted to commit to becoming a chain smoker.
The Mad Hatter
A few days later on one of her rides, Alice picked up the Mad Hatter. It took Alice three minutes to arrive, and when she did she sat out front for a good 5 minutes before the customer got in the car. The pax proceeds to inform Alice that it is such a busy day, and they are in such a hurry, boy this day really sucks, I have to be somewhere in 5 minutes even though it is 20 minutes away, I really hope you are a fast driver! Alice thought to herself, If you are in such a hurry then why did it take you 5 minutes to get to the car?
She starts the route and the GPS tells Alice to take the freeway. The pax says “Don’t take the freeway, it always routes drivers that way, the streets are much faster.” So, being a good little Uber driver, Alice follows the customer’s directions. But the city streets are packed, traffic lights are working against them, and there is construction up ahead which is causing delays followed by traffic being rerouted. The pax is upset about being even more late, and mumbles “I can’t believe this. Your GPS should have known this. Your GPS should have told us to go the other way. Now I’m gonna be really late, and this is the 3rd time this month!” Alice gently reminded the customer that they were the one who insisted on taking the city streets.
Alice got a 1* rating and Navigation and Professionalism complaints. She is pretty sure she knows which customer gave it to her. Her perfect 5* rating is now a sad memory. She posts a venemous rant on the internet forums about it, which is immediately met with sarcasm and laughter sprinkled with sympathy and open arms. She is pissed, and has added 4 people to her ignore list, but she feels better now.
The Cheshire Cat
Alice was getting tired of daytime traffic and is thinking that maybe the bar scene isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. She psyches herself up and heads out for a Friday night of driving.
Around midnight she picks up a man from a popular strip bar. The man sits right up front with her, and she can smell the alcohol oozing from his skin. After the driving starts she notices from the corner of her eye that he is staring at her breasts. She glances at him and he turns away quickly, but as soon as she looks back to the road he starts staring again. He says “I like your shirt, what does it say?” She is wearing a plain T-shirt. She says “My husband bought it for me.” She figures that he will take the hint and get his mind out of the gutter. Little does Alice know that the man has been staring at bare boobs for the past 2 hours, and his mind isn’t going anywhere else.
At the stoplight, she turns to face him. She says “I’m happily married.” He tries to make eye contact, but just can’t seem to raise his pupils that high for more than 2 seconds. He spends the rest of the ride playing with his phone, with a shit-eating grin on his face the entire time.
Alice decides that maybe night time driving isn’t for her after all.
One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
As the days go by Alice encounters people from all walks of life, with all sorts of backgrounds and issues and stories. She is happy for the couple that just got engaged. She is saddened by the man whose mother was just diagnosed with leukemia. She is anxiously nervous for the young woman going to a blind lunch date. She feels proud that she saved someone from a sudden rainstorm. She is pissed that a mother decided to open a package of crackers for little Johnny and let him ‘eat’ them in her car.
Off with her head!
One morning Alice tried to log on, but a message popped up saying “Your Account Needs Attention”. Clicking through the buttons it informed her that there was an issue that needed to be resolved, what could it be? Her insurance … when does it expire? No, that’s good. Maybe they reran her background check? No, that seems dumb, she just signed up 2 weeks ago.
She calls support. Between the static and broken English she somehow gets the impression that there was a complaint filed against her and she has been deactivated while Uber investigates. COMPLAINT?!? Panic grips her as her mind races. What did she say? When? To whom? Did she run a red light? Was it the woman who whined about Trump? Was it the man who asked her out 3 times? Was it the older man who kept touching her shoulder from the back seat? What did she do??
The un-support person would not tell her anything. Alice jumps in her new car and races to the GLH, a mere 50 minutes away. When she arrives she is put in the queue. She is in luck, the wait turns out to be only 35 minutes to see a ‘specialist’.
The GLH person tells Alice that there was a complaint against her, someone reported her as driving impaired. Alice is dumbfounded. That’s insane! I never drink and drive! The GLH person said that impairment could be anything, like marijuana, or alcohol, or pills, or even a lack of sleep could give someone the impression that their driver is under the influence. Alice offers to take a drug test right then and there, but it doesn’t matter. She will have to wait until the investigation is completed, and they will notify her by email within a few days.
Alice asks which passenger said this about her. Can’t tell you. What day was it? Can’t tell you. Was it the couple from 2 nights ago around 7:45pm? Can’t tell you. What did they say I did? Can’t tell you. Well, if I was supposedly drunk, then why did this customer finish the ride? Can’t tell you.
She is amazed that this is really taking place. And the support person, they are acting like they don’t even believe her! Do people lie to Uber? Is this for real?
36 hours later Alice got an email. Uber has concluded their investigation, and they take these issues very seriously, and have decided to deactivate her permanently. Thank you, have a nice life, buh-bye.
On the bright side, her new car payment is only $347.92 per month for the next 6 years.