A Look Back at the Year of My Uber Life

With the arrival of Musikfest (10 day music festival here in Bethlehem PA), it marks my 1 year anniversary driving for Uber.  I have not been driving as much lately because of my schedule and it got me thinking.  Do I really want to keep driving for Uber?  And to be honest, I am not really sure.  I mean I have definitely have some interesting experiences, like driving Stoner Gamer Dude and the time I drive the offensive coordinator for Lehigh football but has it really been worth it?

To start, since I began last August, there are a lot more drivers in the area and it is harder to get rides, at least harder to get as many rides as I used to.  Plus, I have had a few unexpected rides where I had to drive into NYC or just even from Bethlehem PA to Somerset County NJ, which was about an hour ride.  On top of that, there are all these changes/issues that Uber is having.

Not sure you have heard, but the company seems to be kind of a mess.  First there was the sexual harassment scandal where a woman accused a manager of harassment but it was dismissed because the manager was a high performer.  REALLY?!?!?  So if the manager was a crappy worker, they would have investigated?  Eventually, Uber did start an internal investigation, only to find out a few days later that this might not an isolated incident.  A week or so after that we find out that one of their Senior VP’s steps down after allegations of sexual harassment at his former company.  Stay Classy Uber.

Then Google sues Uber, accusing them of stealing their “self-driving” technology.  Which Uber denies and plans to go to court.  Then, using this alleged stolen self driving technology, one of their cars runs a red light, almost hitting a person who was in the cross walk.  They decide to blame this on human error since there was someone in the car who could have stop this.  Now granted the person assigned to make sure this worked screwed up, but really wasn’t it the car’s error first and the person just failed to react in time?

After that, a video surfaces of the CEO berating a driver.  Now, I give the CEO some credit, he does come out and offer public apology and says that we will get “leadership” help.  Not sure that will help, but it is a start.  The list goes on.  More lawsuits, more executives resign, another self driving car crash, etc…  Like I said – total mess.  And, not that it affects me, but since I started, they have added about $0.70 additional rider fees, so while it is costing the passengers more money to ride, the driver does not see any of it.  Probably because they need the money to pay for the lawyers and increase insurance fees.

Now, you might ask, why did I keep doing it as long as I have?  Well, they are looking into getting flying cars as early as 2020.  How cool is that.  Really, I am not kidding, they are looking to demonstrate these electric plans that would take passengers at 150mph through the sky.  Although with their history with the self driving cars, this would make me a little nervous.  But to be honest, this was not the real reason I haven’t quit.

Since I hadn’t been driving a much, I really have not paid that much attention to all of this until recently.  I think I am going to see how things go this week and half with Musikfest in town and decide after that.  Although at this point I am leaning towards calling it quits.  WHAT!?!?! you say.  Calm down. I do still like writing, so while it might be the end of “My Uber Life”, I might just need to start thinking of other things to write about.

Any suggestions???

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

My Uber Life

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I always thought it would be fun to start a blog, but never really had anything all that interesting to write about, Then I started to Uber and wow, there are some interesting people out there. So, this blog is going to be based on “My Uber Life”. My experiences in getting started and some of the more colorful passengers that I have had.  Like the grown man dressed in a full body bear costume or the 20 something professional gamer who smelled like a used bong to name a few.

 

Now I work for an insurance company as my full time job so you can see why I didn’t have too many interesting things to write about. But like thousands of other people, when I first heard about Uber, I was like, this could be an easy way to earn some extra money and hell, it could be fun.  I had debated about it for a few months, but then, the local music festival (Musikfest) was coming up and I thought, no time like the present. This festival is a 10 day event & I knew it would take a while to get approved so about a month before the festival I decided it was time to give it a try.  I got all my information together and submitted my application.  They said it would take about 2 weeks to get approved so I thought I had plenty of time before the festival started.  Well 2 weeks go by and then 3 and I still have not heard back.  I reach out to Uber a few times and never heard anything back.  At this point Musikfest had started and I figured that was it, I was rejected and that was the end of it.  Sure enough, with 3 days left of the festival, I was approved.

 

So, my first day out, it didn’t take too long to get my first ride.  Although, it turns out the people I had to pick up were about a 15 miles away, just to get to them.  So, I start on my way to pick up my first ride – YAY.  After driving down these narrow roads for most of the trip, I hear the navigation say “You have arrived”.  Problem is, I am looking around and I don’t see the address.  I waited on the street for a little bit and finally realize there was a hidden driveway – A LONG AND DARK driveway.  So, as I make the turn down the driveway, I am thinking, this is it – my first ride and I am being lured down a dark driveway, far from the road so someone can rob/mug me.  Well, turns out, I couldn’t be more wrong.  It ends up being a husband and wife with their son and his girlfriend who were really nice.  From that point on, I figured, I could get used to “My Uber Life”

 

Photo by Suzanne Drake Photography