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

Uber Mario and the 6 Foot Bear

So, as promised, this is the story of the Stoner Gamer Dude and the Man in the Bear Suit.  Since, both of these stories deal the conversations I had with these individuals, I am going to write it as dialogue in a play.  Stoner Gamer Dude will play the part of Uber Mario, Man in Bear suit will play the part of 6 Foot Bear and I will play the part of Super Awesome Driver (hey, its my play and I will name my characters however I see fit – don’t judge).

Scene 1:

Super Awesome Driver (S.A.D) is riding along looking for his next ride, when all of a sudden – “Ping, Ping, Ping”, a rider has requested a pick-up.

S.A.D arrives at pick-up

S.A.D:  Hey, whose it going?

Uber Mario:  Hey, what’s up man?

S.A.D: Not Mu……. (S.A.D gets cut off in mid sentence)

Uber Mario:  My best friend just tried to kick my ass.

S.A.D: Really what hap……. (cut off again)

Uber Mario:  Well, you know how it goes (S.A.D shows confused look, as if “No I Dont”).  Hey, take a guess at what I do for a living.

S.A.D: (Again with confused look), No, idea, what do you …… (yes you guessed it, cut off again)

Without going into the rest of the back an forth, basically it comes out that the guy is a 20 something professional gamer. He was even sponsored by a major soft drink company.  He goes on to say that he lives at home with his mom (yes, really), his dad is not around.  S.A.D tries to ask what happened since it seemed like this guy wanted to talk, but then the subject changes back to gaming.  He tells S.A.D that he enters tournaments where the top prize is $300K.  He enters with 4 other players and the split the pot. Funny thing though, he never says if he ever won, just what the potential prize money is.

We arrive at Uber Mario destination, which took all of about 5 mins.  Uber Mario had a lot to say in a very short period of time.

Uber Mario:  Thanks for the ride

S.A.D:  You’re Wel…..(door slams)

Scene 2:

S.A.D once again riding along, when “Ping, ping, ping”; next ride.  S.A.D proceeds to pick-up location and sees a furry 6 foot figure with a hood that has a top hat attached to it talking with a women.  He stops and said furry creature, gets into the car.

S.A.D:  (thinks to himself, this could be interesting) Hey, how’s it going?

6 Foot Bear: Grrrr (not really but he grumbled something that S.A.D couldn’t make out – it could have been a Grrrr or Growl, who knows.)

That was pretty much the extent of the conversation. They rode in silence until they reach 6 Foot Bear’s destination – one of the local bars.  6 Foot Bear gets out of the car, says Thank You (that was clearly audible) and tips S.A.D.

S.A.D:  (thinks to himself) What a nice Bear.

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Annnnnd Scene.

So there you have it.  I really think this should be a new reality show – Uber Mario and the 6 Foot Bear.  Just think of the stimulating conversations they could have. Cant be any worse than some of the other shows on TV right now.

Photography by Suzanne Drake Photography

 

 

 

Uber Me This, Batman

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So you would think, working for an insurance company, that when I started driving I would have thought about how I am covered.  Well turns out after the first week of driving, it never crossed my mind.  I was just glad to finally get approved to try it out.  It was actually my wife, the brains in the family, who said, “what happens if you are in an accident or something, how does the insurance work?”  At first, I was like, “That’s a really good question”, then I thought, crap, why didn’t I think of that – like I said, she is the smart one.  Then the questions started coming in waves.  How does it work in paying taxes, do I even have to declare any of it since I just started and wasn’t really making that much, if I do declare it, what expenses can I write off?  All good questions.

I figured since there was still plenty of time to think about the taxes, I started to call around about insurance.  First, I called my current carrier at the time, let’s just call them the little lizard or Killer Croc for you DC fans.  First they tell me that they have a hybrid policy that could cover me for both personal use and for Uber.  I thought, great, that was pretty easy, how much?  They said they needed to ask a few more questions.  When they got to the part about other licensed drivers in the house, I tell them I have a 16 year old driver in the house.  At which point, they tell me, never-mind, we cant cover you under the hybrid since all household drivers must have 3 years experience.  They then say, but wait, you could try a commercial policy.   I ask, how much is that roughly and was told it would likely run over $1,000 and that was just for my car and no one else in the household would be able to drive it.  Well, that was not an option so onto insurance company #2.

Seeing that I work for an insurance company, why not try them next.  Let’s just call this company Snoopy’s former employer.  Well, they pretty much tell me the same thing.  They have policy, but cant cover me because of the youthful driver. Strike 2.   Next – Onto the next company – This was the company that covered Merr-Mutts, why wouldn’t they cover me for Uber driving?  Well, sure enough, no luck there. Strike 3.  Next was the “Kiss my Grits” company, the one where Flo works, and once again, denied. Strike 4??

At this point, I started to lose hope that My Uber Life was coming to an end before it even really got a chance to start.  But, not one to give up I tried a few more companies before I came to “Brad”.  Brad, said that they’d be more than happy to write me a policy and if I moved my home and Auto to them it was only about $200 more a year, which I could easily make driving.  SOLD – Brad it is – He’s my hero 🙂

So, the moral of the post today is if you do decide to drive, remember – “Uber Me This” and try and think through all of the questions first before you start driving.  Definitely helps to have that planned out ahead of time.

OK, so enough about how I got started.  Next time, I will get into some of the more interesting people I have met along they way so far – Like Bear suit guy or Stoner Gamer dude.  Thanks

Photo By Suzanne Drake Photography

Uberring Right Along

OK, so where did I leave off?  Oh yeah, after my first ride the rest of Musikfest would be a breeze, or at least I thought it would be.  At first, it was going great and it was where I first learned about “Surge” pricing. Surge pricing is your friend, at least from a drivers standpoint.

For those that dont know, Surge pricing is when there is a greater demand for rides than there are drivers in a certain area.  When this happens, they increase the rates.  Great if you are driving, but not so great if you are a rider.  At one point, I was actually looking to end my night and head home when I got pinged to pick someone up right by my house.  Turns out they were heading to the festival and I guessed they planned on having a few beverages, so they didn’t want to drive.  Well, I picked them up and the drive of about 4-5 blocks, normally about $4, but with the Surge pricing that night, the fair was $15.  Total trip time was about 3 mins.  At that point, I figured I could get use to this and decided I would stay out for a while longer.

My next ride was a couple, who had enough “festing” and just need a ride home. Turns out they were the Aunt (Uma) and Uncle (John) of a younger couple, who were staying behind to enjoy the festival a little longer.  I drop them off and then head back towards the festival.  I got a few more rides before getting pinged to pick up a man and his wife.  We got to talking a little during the ride and they tell me, that they were down there with his wife’s Aunt.  At that point, I ask, is our Aunt’s name Uma, and sure enough, it was. Turns out, it was the younger couple of the Aunt and Uncle that I had picked up earlier.  So I drop them off and decided I will see if I can get 1 more rider, before I head home – big mistake on my part.

There is a local music venue by us and I guess a concert had just ended.  I get pinged to pick up a couple who were heading home for the night.  Now, I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but with Uber, as a driver, you don’t know where the rider wants to go until they get in the car.  Turns out they live about 35miles away and it is already close to midnight.  At this point, I really wished I hadn’t decided to take one more ride.  So they get in the car and I start to head out on our way.  After a little conversions, they both got quiet. Turns out they both had fallen asleep in the backseat of the car.  Thank god they woke up when I pulled into the driveway.  I really didn’t want to have to be the one to wake them.  At that point, they got out of the car, I backed out of the driveway, turned the app off and went Uberring Right Along, all they way home.

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Photo by Suzanne Drake Photography

*Names of the riders were changed to protect the innocent

  • On a side note, if you are looking to try Uber for the first time as a rider, feel free to use this promotion code – 5vfz542wue and your first ride will be on me.

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