Last spring Uber technologies released a short promotional video in an attempt to better bridge the gap between Uber corporate management, and their drivers. In this video, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is seen driving a car through the streets of San Francisco California while operating as a driver on the Uber X platform. The video was created in an attempt to show drivers that Uber understands their frustration when Dara himself is seen experiencing the same app and navigation issues that drivers encounter daily.
However, what was not revealed, was that Uber corporate management collectively agreed that in order for Dara to better gain a true understanding of what an actual driver experiences daily, he should be required to work a full shift alone (8 to 11 hours) post video production. This is a tale of how the rest of Dara’s day went;
Dara Khosrowshahi was feeling quite pleased with himself this afternoon. He had just completed a short field test to garner ideas for making much needed improvements on the current Uber driver app. He had greatly enjoyed his short escapade as a driver and with the exception a few glitches in the app, it had all went well for the most part. Why are drivers always complaining? This gig is awesome! When his management team came to him with the idea that he should fully embrace the Uber driver/partner experience by working a full shift on the Uber X platform and he couldn't agree more.
He was elated and brimming with anticipation as he drove to a busy part of town to begin his shift. Once there, he pulled the car over and parked curbside, eagerly watching the app for the first ride request. Should be any minute now…..….(Cut to 10 minutes later and Dara is still sitting parked, not having received a single ride request.) “What's wrong with my phone?” he muttered confused. Dara shook his phone curiously and held it up to sunlight to see if he could see the problem. Surely the problem was his phone, not the actual Uber app. Then he remembered. Uninstall and reinstall the app! That fixes everything.
As he was waiting for the app to reload, a Prius cruised by him slowly, the driver’s face contorted with his brow furrowed in anger as he studied the new Ant in his territory. Dara smiled and waved, but the other driver only scowled in return and drove off. “Huh,” thought Dara, “He must be a Lyft driver. They don’t treat their drivers very well.”
Dara decided to check the Uber Rider app to see if he could see how many Uber drivers were nearby. “Holy Smokes!” He couldn't believe his eyes. There were swarms of drivers all around him. “Hmm,” he thought, ”Maybe we shouldn't have recruited so many drivers.”
“Ping!.....Ping!” A ride request has just come in. “Finally!” Dara thought. He quickly hit accept and drove eagerly towards the waiting passenger. “Oh where is my adventure taking me?” he thought as he closed the final few blocks to the pickup location. It was then that he noticed the navigation was taking him into the parking lot of a Safeway grocery store.
There, just front of the store entrance, stood a heavy set middle aged couple. Their rumpled attire consisted of mismatched sweat suits covered with collage of greasy food stains. Next to them sat 2 overloaded shopping carts full of groceries. Dara pulls up in front of the couple and surveys the situation. The couple in turn, studied Dara. “Well?” The woman snarled at him. “Are you just going to sit there looking like an idiot or are you going to load our groceries?”
“I’m sorry what…….what did you just say to me?” Dara stammered, “Do you know who I am?........Wait no Dara….not today…..today you are an Uber Driver!.......I’m sorry ma’am. Yes I will gladly help you with your items.”
“Yeah you better or I’ll give you a bad rating!” the woman snapped at him. Dara looked at her husband, who had remained quiet this whole time. He quickly lowered his eyes. A look of fear and embarrassment washed over his face. Dara began loading the groceries, which included 4 cases of bottled water, while the couple climbed in the back seat. “Don't you squish my bread, driver!” the woman called out. “Yes ma’am, I won’t,” Dara replied, as he finished loading the rest of the contents of the shopping carts.
“Driver?!” the woman called out again.
“Yes ma’am?” Dara answered.
“I’m thirsty! Why don't you have any bottled water in here for me to drink?”
Dara didn't know how to respond to that so he said nothing as he continued to shuffle bags of groceries around in the trunk. The woman began to mumble under her breath to no one in particular. After five full minutes of packing and repacking the items to make it all fit, Dara eagerly climbed in the driver's seat and started the trip. “Now it's time to get paid for all my hard work!” he thought. Destination……...0.3 miles. (whomp….wah…. waaah...sad trombone.)
It’s now a half hour later and after dropping off the couple from Safeway, and unloading all their groceries at their doorstep, Dara is now cruising the Financial District in search of more professional riders. Ping!...Ping! “Here we go,”he thought. “Things will surely go better now.” As Dara turned the corner onto Clay street, he saw a young man (Jason) dressed in business casual attire, standing on the sidewalk holding his phone up at the approaching car. The only problem was, Jason was standing in front of a Muni Metro transit lane, with no place for Dara to safely stop and pick him up.
Dara motioned for him to walk further down the street to a loading zone, fifty feet away, but Jason angrily shook his head “No!” stomped his feet, and pointed his finger down at the ground where he wanted…...no….demanded Dara stop and pick him up.
Dara was aghast at the entitlement of this passenger but decided to dismiss the man’s attitude. After all, customers service is number one! He looked quickly in his rear view mirror to see if he could spot an approaching train or bus. Seeing nothing, he quickly pulled his car into the transit lane to pick up the young man. As Jason got into the car he muttered, “You do know it’s curbside service, right?”
Dara was about to reply back but decided against it. He turned his attention back to his phone to start the trip and when suddenly…..what’s this? New rider added? This wasn’t a Pool ride, was it? How could it be? Surely he would have seen the words Pool when he accepted the trip. (New rider added.) Make it stop!! (New rider added.) “HELP!” (New rider added…….)
As Dara frantically swiped through his app, looking for the “stop new rider” option, there came a sudden blast of sound so loud and startling, that it caused both Dara and Jason to scream out in fear. Jason slid down in his seat in whimpering while Dara turned sharply in his seat to look out his rear window. There, looming just behind his rear bumper, was a massive grey and maroon behemoth of an creature. A seemly living presence with a set of angrily glowing eyes staring back at him. The Muni Metro train had arrived.
“Whaaaaaamp!” the sound came again. Dara fumbled to get the car in gear and quickly drove the car to the end of the block with the Muni following closely behind, loudly singing Dara’s praises.”What’s wrong with you?” Jason asked. “Don’t you know you can't stop a car at a Muni station?
Seven Pool rides later Dara is finally dropping off his last passenger, which ironically happened to be Jason, his first rider. Jason by this time was in a foul mood. It had taken him 45 minutes to get home in what normally would have taken only 15 minutes had he just caught the Muni.
As Jason finally exited the car he announced angrily that he was giving Dara one star, before delivering a door slam worthy of the strength of a champion ball player. Dara drove a short distance down the street before pulling over and immediately typing a message to Uber support regarding this matter. Slamming doors was simply unacceptable behavior.
To Dara’s surprise, Uber Support’s response was swift and immediate. “Oh!” Dara mused, “Why are drivers always complaining about support? They're right on the ball! Let's see their answer.”
And so Dara moved on...
A couple of hours later, Dara’s day had improved some. He had picked up some decent fares and enjoyed lively conversation with a good quality of passengers. Unfortunately he also received a large amount of passengers who’s trips were less than a mile, even though he himself had traveled in some cases a distance of over 6 miles and sometimes taking up to 10 minutes to reach the pick up location. He couldn't understand why he was not paid handsomely for those rides. The Uber app had stated that the ride was a “premium pick up likely.”
It was now early evening as Dara pulled into a seemingly well to do neighborhood. He scanned the houses for the address of his next fare, a passenger named Ashley. He noticed movement in the driveway of a home and saw that it was a young woman wearing a large backpack walking towards him. She had the hood of her coat pulled over her head and was looking down as she walked. He realized he was unable to see her face but wasn't concerned. “Oh, no matter,” Dara thought. “This is a nice neighborhood.” The door opened and Ashley hopped in the backseat, closed the door behind her, and buckled her seat belt before removing her hood and looking up at Dara. What the…..?! This “woman” couldn't be more than 13 years old. Dara looked up at the house where the girl had just came from. “Are your parents coming?” he asked.
“Nope! Just me. Lets go!”
“Oh I’m sorry young lady but it's against Uber’s policy to give rides to unaccompanied minors. You are going to have to go get one of your parents.”
“No I don't! Other Uber drivers do it!”
“Well I’m sorry that other Uber drivers have led you to believe this was OK but I assure you, this is against Uber’s policy. You are going to have to exit the car now.”
“My parents aren't home, I do this all the time, and no, I don't have to leave the car and you can't make me!”
Dara took off his seat belt and prepared to exit the car. He was planning to open her door and politely ask her to leave, but one thing's for certain, he was not transporting this unaccompanied minor.
“Are you going to put your hands on me mister?” Ashley asked at the sight of Dara preparing to get out of the car. .
“Wha-aaaat?” Dara turned in his seat and looked at her. She stared back at him, with a look of smug defiance upon her face.
Dara read her message well. He quietly turned back around in his seat and started the car. Ashley, realizing she'd won, leaned back in her seat and placed her Earbuds in her ears before turning to look out the window. Dara drove in silence, terrified of further angering the child. A few spiteful words from this girl’s mouth could take away his career and possibly even his freedom. He was grateful when she finally exited the car. All he could hope for at this point was that she wasn't the malicious type.
It was now much later in the night and things were starting to look better for Dara. He had grabbed a quick bite to eat at Mcdonalds, and the mood in passengers had greatly improved, as most were in high spirits, being heavily engaged in late night social activities. Their foolish, drunken frivolities eased Dara’s mind some and helped him forget about little Ashley and her implied threats. “I guess if something was going to happen I would have heard about it by now,” he thought.
Dara’s next request came from Mezzanine, a popular nightclub in the Tenderloin District. As he pulled up to the curb, 4 young women all in their early 20’s approached the car. After confirming the name of the account holder (Britney) they all climbed in. The women, briefly greeted Dara, before turning their full attention to one another and the self indulgence involved in being them.
“OhMahGaaaaaawd……..Like…….that guy at the club was soooo dumb!”
“Oh I knowwww….He was so……..”
Dara cringed as each word spoken in that grating millennial vocal fry penetrated his eardrums with the croaky, graveled emissions of a car full of bullfrogs.
“I’m sorry,” Dara interrupted, “But are you girls OK? Are you girls sick? Your voices are kind of hoarse.”
“Noooooo its like, how we taaaalk…...OhMahGaaaaawd…….He’s so old!”
Will this night ever end Dara?
Dara was immensely relieved when he dropped them off 0.6 miles later, at the front door of another club. Almost immediately another request came in from the very same club he was sitting in front of. Two Brogrammers, both sporting matching Amazon embroidered Polo shirts climbed in.
“Bro! They were hot bro!” (of the exiting girls.) “Oh I know bro! Totally hot bro!....Hey bro!.....Driver…..bro?”
“Yes?” Dara asked apprehensively.
“You got an aux cord bro?”
Dara fished around in the glove box and pulled out a variety of cords, holding each one up for the Brogrammers to inspect. None of which they identified as aux cords. “That’s cool bro! I’ll just bluetooth it to the car.” Dara was then subjected to the nasally wail of a clearly intoxicated female vocalist set to the grinding backdrop of a heavily synthesized bass beat.
The brogrammers pumped their fists in unison, which caused the whole car to rock and shake in return. “Bro! This is so…...so…….wheh……..wheh”
“Oh no bro! Hold it bro!”
“What?” Dara craned his neck to see.
“Oh no bro! You totally blew all over my shoes bro!”
The car screeched to a stop as Dara jumped out and ran around to the passenger door, yanking it open. “Get out!” Dara screams! “Get out this instant!” The Brogrammers sheepishly complied, slowly shuffling out of the car. Dara slammed his own car door this time before climbing back in and speeding off, leaving the Brogrammers sitting shakily on the curb. Sick Bro with his head in his hands while the other tried to shake the vomit off his shoes while trying to hold his own dinner down.
Once again Dara pulled over to type a message to Uber Support. This time he included pictures. Surely he will get an accurate response this time. Within minutes his phone alerted that he had a new message. Good! It was from Support. Dara opened the message:
Having no recourse but to clean up the mess himself, Dara decided to do so. He would take up this issue with his management team in the morning. This was unacceptable. Heads were going to roll.
It is some time later and Dara is standing in the parking lot of a self serve car wash next to a freshly scrubbed car interior. He had just spent the past hour on his knees scrubbing the floor, seats, and door panels of the car, while he himself had to rush over to the garbage can a few times himself to spew his own lunch and dinner. Exhausted, he looked at his watch. One hour left in his shift. “This will be the last ride,” he thought. He climbed back in the car and cruised towards Noe Valley. “Perhaps a break from the bar district,” he thought. A request came in within seconds. Dara accepted and cruised down a dark residential street to a quiet local late night diner. As Dara reached the pick up location he noticed the Uber navigation app had frozen and and he was unable to access the Uber pick up screen. As he sat tapping the screen and trying to unfreezes the app, he noticed in his peripheral vision a man approaching the passenger window of the vehicle. Dara waved briefly at the man and motioned for him to get in the back, which the man so without a word. Dara continued to tap at his phone in annoyance. “Something wrong with your phone buddy?” the man called from the back seat. “Oh,” Dara replied, “Its this stupid app! I cant get it to respond! It won’t do anything! Very poor design if you ask me!”
“Poor design, you say?” the man replied. “Hmm, and you think you could write a better one?’’
Dara who had been insistently tapping his phone, suddenly froze at the sound of that voice, his finger paused in mid air. That voice brought back foggy memories of a squinty-eyed acquaintance. A once viable comrade but now a disgruntled foe. The app finally unfroze and the rider’s name finally appeared at the bottom of the screen. Travis.
“I said,” Travis Kalanick asked dryly from the back seat. “Do you think you can do better?” Dara was petrified, but did his best not to show it. How disgruntled was Travis after all? Here they were all alone on this quiet, isolated street. Travis sitting coldly behind him in the dark.
Dara decided not to answer the question and said nothing more as he started the trip. No matter what the distance on the trip, this was surely going to be the longest ride of his life. The ride ended 8 excruciating minutes later at the steps of the Inn at the Presido hotel. Dara wished Travis good night, to which Travis did not return the gesture, then Dara blissfully slid his app to offline.
As he drove home it began dawn on him that the reality of what he experienced with his short stint shooting the video, was not even close to what the actual drivers experience daily…..maybe…...then he second guessed himself. “Maybe it was just my lack of experience that contributed to all these mishaps, I’m certain actual drivers don't have these things happen to them on a continuous basis or they simply wouldn't drive for us. At any rate, I’ll pop in the office tomorrow and go over it with the board. Perhaps more changes are in order as we continue to move forward with the 180 Days of Change mission statement.”
Upon reaching home, Dara crawled into his bed too exhausted to even change out of his clothes. He had just drifted off to sleep when he felt a whack of a pillow across his face. “What's that smell Dara?” his wife yelled at him. “Dara! Wake up! Dara!!”
“Wha...What?” Dara mumbled as he looked around the darkened room. Again came the whack across the face, this time with enough force that he imagined he saw stars dancing around his head. Big, fat yellow Uber reward stars which are issued to drivers as compensation in lieu of higher wages. Stars are, after all, what every driver values so much more than any actual monetary reward. “Go sleep on the couch Dara! I don't want to smell whatever that is!” Dara, still half asleep stumbled out of bed and found his way to the couch. Within seconds he was asleep again.
By morning he felt quite a bit better. After a shower, shave,and grabbing a quick breakfast he was out the door and headed into the office for a brief visit to discuss the events of the night before with his team. As he pulled into the his parking spot at the Uber corporate office he gave a friendly passing wave to Dave, the long time security guard who manned the employe parking lot. Dave upon seeing Dara, did not return the wave. He quickly pulled out his phone and began talking to someone. “I wonder what's going on.” Dara thought. He parked his car and after grabbing his briefcase he began walking towards the building. Upon reaching the secured door Dara quickly punched in his code while reaching for the door handle simultaneously. To his surprise, the door did not open. Dara typed in his code again, slower this time. Instead of seeing the acces pad turn to green, it stayed a steady red color. Again!.... Still red. “What's this?” Dara thought. “The system must be down. Maybe that's what Dave was preoccupied with when I arrived. Why wasn't I made aware of this? “
Dara pulled out his phone and tried to contact front reception.To his surprise, his call went unanswered. Getting quite annoyed, he pushed the call button on the keypad. A voice came back over the speaker. “Yes? Can I help you?”
“Yes! This is Dara! What is going on? Let me in immediately! This is unacceptable that I was not made aware that the security system is down!”
Silence from the speaker. Dara rattled the door in frustration before turning to shake his fists at the camera. “I said let me in immediately!”
“Sir?” the voice finally came through the speaker. “We are contacting you to inform you that we received a report that your driving seemed impaired during a recent trip. Uber prohibits the use of drugs or alcohol by drivers using the app. Reports of this nature require us to remove you from the Uber platform while we investigate this matter.. A hold has been placed on your account until we complete our investigation. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter……
WORKS CITED: Dara Goes Driving. The Real Story:
Uber video, Published on Apr 10, 2018.
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Too many drivers
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Bottle of water
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Surprise . . . it's a pool
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Stealth Pool Ping?
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Tibet , Apr 17, 2018.
Pool in san francisco??? awful
dnlbaboof, Aug 30, 2018.
Slamming my door !
jaypremium, Jul 19, 2018.
Uber “support” is SO Bad!
Sirshoelaceman , Jun 13, 2018.
Pickup premium LIKELY
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Underage riders disaster
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shmiff , Mar 6, 2018.
Huge important tip for bar surge crowd...
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The Aux Cord Fallacy
Kurt Halfyard , Jan 15, 2018.
Do you have an aux cord? Yes I do and you can't use it.
Dave Bust , July 22, 2018
Puke cherry popped. Support confused
corniilius , Oct 16, 2018.
Puke in my new car
patsfan1212 , Sep 2, 2018.
Not impressed with Uber support
Papa-R, July 5, 2018.
Uber worse under travis or dara
tee hee , Aug 19, 2018.
If travis was..
Kevin7889, Feb 21, 2017.
180 Days of Change..Joke
Raja_mic , Apr 4, 2018.
180 Days of Change - RECAP
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Uber effect on marriage
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