Five things I’ve learned from driving for Uber

After four months on the job, a few things I’ve learned.

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When you drive for Uber, the skepticism around the profession and rumor mills are put to rest. Everybody thinks about driving for Uber, but stay away due to certain issues ranging from anxiety around strangers, a certain cash flow expectation, and general paranoia about picking up Tom Cruise from Collateral.

Today marks the three month anniversary of driving for the San Francisco based profession, and I love it for a few good reasons. I’ll get to those later after I debunk some common Uber myths. Let’s start with five.

1) Uber drivers should talk

A subtle greeting is a good thing when a stranger gets into the car, because it breaks the ice and shuts down the suspicions of a new rider. Let’s be honest, you have no idea what’s picking you up on the street, so a greeting works. Remember this: Uber riders want to talk. 95 percent of the time, the rider starts or continues a conversation with me, not the other way around. If I stay silent, the ride becomes uncomfortable, thus ending with a bad rating and zero tip. Judging from my 4.96 (out of 5) rating over 550 rides, I am doing it right.

2) Yes, we know where we are going

You see that navigation on our dashboard showing the map and streets? It’s called Uber Navigation and it works. Sure, there will be times where the Siri rounding lady will run us into a traffic jam or deadend street, but more often than not, so will a human guide. I can’t tell you how many times navigation got me out of a bad spot or saved me minutes. Certain riders think they know every route so well and most of the time I listen to the paying customer, but we do know where we are going. Trust me.

3) Presenting yourself does make pickups smoother

When you are getting picked up in front of a popular bar or club on Saturday night, it helps to present yourself outside the establishment on the street. Think of me as Jason Bourne and you are Julia Stiles, and we have assassins after us. I can’t tell you how many times I have done circles around a place only to see the person sitting inside the door hoping for a door opening gesture while Clark Avenue becomes congested. Cops and security don’t like a load of cars in front of the front door, so work with me. Get outside and be ready, because we are coming. Also, answer your phone, because that’s probably me and not Mom.

4) Yes, we have other jobs

And no, it’s not serial killer tryouts. A common question and a tiring one is asking the driver, who is busy navigating traffic and not getting the two of you killed, what else they do for a living. Conversations break ice, but they also nag drivers during traffic and tough spots. Let me save you the trouble. Unless I drove all day and night, didn’t have a family to go home to, I probably have other work. Usually, the response to my writing job is, “Aw, cool” or “Really!?”. I get it, writers getting paid to write is old fashioned, but still relevant and alive.

5) We don’t mind impromptu fast food pit stopsĀ 

That is, if you plan on leaving us a tip for extending the ride minutes and reducing our chance of getting other rides. You see, Uber pay breaks down to miles and minutes, with the latter producing the lesser cash income. By collecting more minutes, you are hurting our take-home. But we don’t want to say no to a request and lose tips, good ratings, and have that cold vibe over the car. Just leave us a tip. Two or three dollars will suffice. Return the favor.

There will be more to come. Uber has given me a chance to make your own hours and bring home extra scraps to the family, without the stress of a boss or annoyance of co-workers. Next week, I will get into some classic Uber stories and have some fun.

Until next time, be safe and choose Uber.

*In Case You Missed it on KSDK

Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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