Sorry Seems to be the “Uber” Word

On occasion when I am driving, I have had people cancel on me when I am actually on my way to pick them up.  For the most part, it has not been too bad.  I have either been there waiting for them to come out, in which case I at least got the minimum fare, or the person texted me saying that they were sorry.  In the later, I don’t get any money for the time I spent trying to get to them, but hey, at least they apologized.

As a driver, you really don’t want to cancel too many rides because it can affect how you get rides in the future.  So, I try to make it a point to accept pretty much any ride when it is requested. Just refer back to Uberring Right Along or How to Succeed in Uber Without Really Trying as proof.  Although, I cant say I have never cancelled a ride.

First time I did have to cancel it was pretty much my own fault.  Everyone else had been out and I was just at home, trying to get stuff done (really watching football on TV, but don’t tell them) and had no intention of driving.  I opened the app, just curious to see how busy it was and if there was any “surge” pricing.  I never turned the thing on to accept rides, at least that is what I thought.  About 15 mins later, I hear the app go off, pinging me for a ride.  Now, at least point, even if I did want to go pick the person up, I couldn’t because I didn’t have a car so I had to cancel.

There was one time when I actually thought of cancelling on purpose.  I had just dropped someone off by the The Promenade Shops at Center Valley and before I could even pull away, I got another request.  I didn’t recognize the name of the town, so I hit the navigation before I even started off.  It tells me that it is going to take me 20 mins to get there and it is heading towards Philly which is NOT on my way home.

I figured, “You know what, screw it, I should just cancel”.  Well, before I even started to reach for the app, I get a text message.  The person I am supposed to pick up text me asking if I am really coming since the last 3 drivers had cancelled on her.  So, off towards Philly I go.

I pick her up and she proceeds to tell me that the first person never even showed up. The second person called her to ask where she wanted to go and when she told him, he cancelled and the 3rd person waited for her to actually get in the car and then told her he couldn’t drive her.  Talk about having a bad morning.

As it turns out, this person volunteers to read to children and the elderly at a library near Philly and needed a ride to the train station.  Since her last few rides cancelled, she had missed the last train that the station close to her house.  That is why she needed a ride to another station that was on the way but much closer to Philly.  I was not sure why she doesn’t drive, but she said normally, her mother could give her a ride to the station.  This week though , her mother was away, and she didn’t want to cancel on the people at the library so she decided to take an Uber.

We get to the station and I drop her off.  She was kind enough to tip me a few dollars, which at first I felt guilty about even taking seeing the trouble she had earlier.  After a little of “No, you don’t have to do that” and “No really, please take it,” I end up taking the money.  There was a Wawa right across the street from the station and on my way back home, I decide to get something to drink.  As I am getting out of the car I get another text from her.  She tells, while she was sitting there waiting for her train, she reached in her pocket and found an addl $5 that she had meant to give me on top of what she had already tipped.  I was close enough to where I could have gone back to get it seeing I was only across the street, but after what she had been through that day, I just thanked her, said that I appreciated it and but not worry.

Not sure there is really a moral to this story, other than if you are either a rider or a driver and you need to cancel, “Sorry” doesn’t have to be the Uber (hardest) word.

Photography by Suzanne Drake Photography

 

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The Fabulous Uber Boys

Most of the time when I am out uberring and get a ride, it is just one or 2 people.  On occasion, I will get rides with 3 or 4 people, but that is not really the norm.  Now, I have a Subaru Impreza, which can seat up to 4 passengers pretty comfortably.  Any more than that and someone is going to have to find another ride or they are going to have to sit on laps (do not try that at home).

One of the first times that I had large group of people was when I was on the Southside of Bethlehem and got a request to pick someone up at Molly’s Irish Grillle.  I pull up to the corner and I see a group 5 college kids waiting (4 guys and 1 girl).  At first they all try and get into the car.  I apologize and let them know that my car can really only fit 4 people – Ruh Roh.  They all start looking around at each other and I half expected them to start playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would have to get another ride.

In the end they pick the guy who was there with his girlfriend.  I am thinking to myself, wow, chivalry really is dead.  As we’re driving, the guys start talking and it turns out, this was supposed to be boys night out, and the 3 that got into the car were not thrilled that the 4th guy brought his girlfriend.  To this day, I wonder if they did this on purpose so they could ditch the guy or if they really did meet up with them someplace later.

Another time when I picked up a bunch of guys who were going out for a boys night, it was much different.  These were 4 guys who were heading out to Bethlehem for what they called; preparation for an all day baby shower the next day.  One of the guys (and his wife) were expecting their first child and this was like his Last Hurrah!

On the way there, one of the guys wonders if “Sam” (name changed to protect the innocent) the bartender was working.  They start talking about other times they had been there when “Sam” was working.  The guy who is having a baby any day, starts reminiscing about the time “Sam” kicked open the door to the bathroom stall while he was in there have sex with someone.  And then he wonders, if “Sam” realizes that the girl ended up being his wife.   At this point I am thinking, “Could that have been the night his child was conceived?”  They start to talk about it a little more, but at this point, we arrive – CRAP!!  Now we will never know if that was “the” night.

All in all, my experiences driving for groups like this has been petty good.  They were mostly well behaved and very nice gentlemen, at least to me.  Although, I would recommend, that if you do plan a “Fabulous Uber Boys” night out, that you either not bring your significant other or at least run it by the other boys before you show up.

As always, Photography by Suzanne Drake Photography

 

 

Uber Can Wait

There are times when you drive for Uber that need to wait for your riders.  Most of the time you are just waiting for them to get in your car.  For instance, one of my earlier rides was picking up a dad who was taking his son to the movies.  It was the first time he had used Uber and wasn’t really sure how the app worked. And too be honest, I wasn’t really sure myself, at least from a rider perspective.  So, the father comes and tells me he is going to take his son to see the new “insert popular action move here” and just asked if I could wait a minute for his son to come out.  Not knowing any better, I said sure, no problem.  Well his son was a teenage boy and he apparently was still “primping” in case he ran into anybody at the movies.  So after about 5 mins, the son came out and we were on our way.

Now, most examples of waiting for the rider is before the trip, but there are times, when you are in the middle of a trip and the rider ask if “we” can make a quick stop.  First few times this happened to me, it really was just a “quick” stop.  One guy just wanted to stop and get a coffee on his way to work and even asked me if I wanted anything. I thought, how nice is this guy.  Next guy, just wanted to pick up a paper and got a drink.  So the 3rd time someone asked me if we could make a quick stop, I didn’t think anything of it.  Turns out, I couldn’t be more wrong.

So, I am out running errands and I turn the app on, like I usually do.  Well, only a few minutes into it, I get pinged and head off to pick up my ride.  I get to the pick up location and it turns out it is a women who looks pretty young but it is hard for me to tell if she is a college student or just someone right out of college.  She gets in the car and I go and hit the navigation and off we go.  Only about 2 mins in, she ask if we can make a quick stop. At this point, I am thinking sure, why not.

Turns out, she wanted to make a stop at the hardware store because she wanted to get some wallpaper.  I pull up to the entrance and she said, I will try and make the as quick as possible, only a few minutes.  So, she gets out of the car and I sit there an wait.   About 5 mins go by and I am thinking to myself, OK this a little longer then I expected, but that’s OK.  It shouldn’t be too much longer – WRONG.  Another 10 mins go by, and at that point I look in the back seat and realize that she left her phone, and backpack in the back of my car.  She was much more trusting then I probably would be, leaving all of her stuff in the car.  Some more time goes by and at this point, I have pretty much caught up on my email, facebook and instagram and cant believe she is still in there.

Finally after about 30 minutes, she comes out.  I will give her credit, first thing she does is apologize and ask if it cost me anything for sitting around.  I let her know that with Uber, you get paid more per the mile than you do for the time and that if I hadn’t had to wait that I could have been picking up more rides.   She offers to give me a little extra for the wait, which at first I tried to decline, but after a little back and forth, I finally cave and just take the money.

Turns out our destination was local college – Kutztown and she was a student there.  The whole ride, including the wait was about 30-40mins.  Before she gets out she ask, how much the ride would cost her.  I tried to let her know that with Uber I don’t even see what I get until several minutes after the ride is over. I even showed her the app that says it is “still processing your last fare”.  The idea is, that Uber doesn’t want the rider and the driver to compare the cost of the ride so the final cost does not appear for a while.  She keeps checking her phone and the final cost is not showing on her end either.  I apologize and let her know that I really need to head back because at this point it is going to take me 30mins to get home.

First, let me say that if I realized she was a college student before I dropped her off, I might not have taken the extra money.  But in the long run, you need to realize that if you think “Uber Can Wait” it might end up costing you more in the long run.

Photography by Suzanne Drake Photography

How to Succeed in Uber Without Really Trying

When I first started Uberring the only time I turned the app on was when I specifically set time aside to get rides.  I never really thought about just turning it on while I was running errands or even to and from work.  Now, is some of my other post, you have heard about the stories of picking up High School kids who were going to school (see Uberity), which were always quick rides.  After doing this for awhile, I got to thinking, why not try it on my way home from work.

I might have mentioned this before, but while I live in Bethlehem PA, I work in NJ.  The first time I tried Uber on my way home, things were great.  It was Surge pricing, I got 2 short rides and the last one was actually on my way home.  I thought, this is going to be awesome.  Well, let me tell you, the “awesomeness” didn’t last long.

After the success I had the first time, I was eager to try again.  So, the next day, when I left worked I turned the app on.  At first, it was fine.  A short ride close to the office and there was surge pricing, SCORE.  Just as I drop the first ride off, I get pinged again, although this time the surge pricing had just ended.  This should have been a sign that things were not going to go my way.  I accept and head off to pick up my next ride.  I get to the address and it is one of the larger companies in the area.  I never really thought about it until then but the really are a bunch of large offices in the area where I work.  I pull up, get out to help them with their luggage (another sign that this was not going to be good) and then get back in the car.

Now with Uber, you don’t know where the person wants to go until they get in the car.  So, we all pile in and I hit the navigation button so I can see where we are going.  At thought point, I see the street address first – Broadway.  I thought, Broadway is a pretty common street name it might not be bad.  Then I look at the city and the travel time.  City=NY, Travel time = 1 Hour and 40 mins.  CRAP!!.

Turns out it was 3 people in their 20’s who had traveled in from various parts of the USA and were there for a business meeting.  The entire ride they just talked between themselves complaining about the people they work with.  The only time anyone said anything to me was to ask if they could turn the heat down.  Of course I said, “HELL NO, it’s my car and I am cold. I like the heat where it is at”.  Well, it didn’t come out exactly like that. More like “Sure, no problem”.

So, the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.  I dropped them off, turned the app off and then got ready to head home.  First thing I did was to call home and let them know I am going to be a “little” late.   I had a lot of time to think on the way and come to the realization that maybe turning the app on so close to work is not such a great idea.

Moral of the story is, if you want to “Succeed in Uber”, you might need to try a little and be ready for the occasional long ride that you might not expect.

Photography by Suzanne Drake Photography

Uberity

I have always been a fairly social person and enjoy meeting new and interesting people.  I love volunteering for the local festivals in the area, Celtic Classic, Musikfest, & Oktoberfest to name a few, because it is fun and just another way to meet more people.   Then, when I started to get the idea to Uber, I thought, now here is a chance to meet some more interesting people AND get paid.  Count me In.

For the most part, when I started it was pretty much what I expected.  Driving people to the airport, driving drunks home after a night of partying, driving hung over partiers back to their car the next morning, or even just driving people to work.  One thing I didn’t expect was giving kids a ride to school in the morning.

One of the first times this happened, I had just got done dropping my kids off at school and figured, what the hell, let me turn the Uber app on and see if I can get any rides.  Sure enough, within about 2 mins of turning the app on, I get a ping to pick someone up.  Now, we live right across the river from Lehigh University, and the person I was picking up was right by the campus, so I just thought it was a college kid.  WRONG.

Turns out it was a high school kid who missed his bus and needed a ride to school. I really wanted to ask him, “Is this normal?  Do you take Ubers often to get to school? But like most kids just out of “Uberity” he got in the car and just put his headphones on, played on his phone and didn’t say a word until I dropped him off. Although, in his defense, he was very polite when he got out of the car, thanking me and wishing me a nice day.  Such a nice young man.

Another time, there was a high school girl who was in my youngest daughters grade.  Again, I had just dropped off my daughters and decided to turn the app on.  I pull up to the address thinking it is just going to be someone going to work.  Again, WRONG.  Turns out this girl does not live that far from the school and could probably walk. Since she didnt put the headphones on as soon as she got in the car, I figured I would ask – “Do you normally take an Uber to school?”  She tells me, no, it is just that she was running late, missed the bus and if she was late one more time she would get Saturday school.

Then there was the kid who I picked up a 7am and was also just going to their High School.  When I picked them up, I looked at the destination real quick and recognized the school name but still hit the navigation link just so I could take the quickest route.  After about a min or so into the ride I hear the GPS say, you will arrive at 10:30am.  At this point, I am thinking, “3.5 hrs for a 3 mile ride – the clock on my GPS must be off.  I drive a little farther and look at the GPS again and see that is says the ride will take 3.5hrs.  WHAT??!!!

I pull over, and confirm where they wanted to go.  They say, Easton High School, in eastern PA. Well, that was not the address they keyed in.  They did keyed in the address for an Easton High School, but it was in Maryland.  Luckily, we had not gotten that far and I was still able to get them to school on time.

The whole thing just kind of feels weird driving these kids around.  I mean my oldest daughter just started to drive so now we don’t have to drive her around that much anymore.  But now thanks to Uber, I get to drive her classmates around. On the upside, I never got paid to drive my daughters around.

Photography by Suzanne Drake Photography