I Am a Phoenix Uber Driver
A Phoenix-based Uber driver shares stories from behind the wheel.
Two jobs, two sons, and a husband was not enough. I was in a rut and feeling bleh. After running into a childhood friend one day, she put the Uber bee in my bonnet and I was hooked.
I have had a romantic notion about cab drivers for some time, formulated in part by the song Taxi and the film Night on Earth. Becoming a taxi driver is expensive and full time, but becoming an UberX "partner" is fairly uncomplicated, almost free. I work when I want, and the money is nice. I have been able to do good things with the extra cash for my family and for people I know.
A certain amount of suspension of conventional beliefs about strangers has to occur in order for the app-based ride-sharing thing to work. I have to trust that my riders will not be serial killers or meanies, and my riders have to trust that I am not a kamikaze Formula One wannabe. Extreme scenarios aside, the system works well, and a by-product of this side job is a chance to meet interesting people and hear their stories.
After my second week of "Uber-ing," I began sharing stories from behind the wheel, changing the names and facts a bit to keep my riders' identities private. Here is a sampling:
Last night, I was thinking I would call it a day and head home, but took one last ride. A guy about my age got in the cab and pronounced, "I LOVE UBER!"
We were hitting it off famously, talking about this and that. He showed me a picture of his son and told me his name. It was then I realized I had grown up with his brother, who passed away a few years ago. After a few small-town Phoenix moments, we reached his destination.
He handed me a 20 and I tried to turn it down. (Uber drivers tips are included in the fair, so riders have a cashless transaction.) He said the 20 was from his brother, who had put us together in the Uber experience and would be upset if I didn't take it . . . sweet! (and sweet).
How to handle "Are we in a safe part of town?" after picking up three adorable Costa Rican college students (in town for the Clinton Institute in Tempe and unable to find any affordable rooms closer) on 24th and Van Buren Street.
Do I . . .
A. Say "Hell no!"
B. Give them a history lesson of Phoenix and Tempe, including tales of prostitution, stock yards and the mental hospital to distract them from the question
C. Give them small comfort by saying, "Well, it's not the WORST part
of town. Make sure you're packing and the door is locked."
Drunk people have bad ideas, and they are very insistent. It's one of the many fatal flaws of SuperDrunkGuy, or is it one of his powers?
SuperDrunkGuy thinks his wife would love to meet me.
I know there is no way this could be true, but in SuperDrunkGuy's world his wife and I hit it off and become best friends. That's because everyone is friendly in SuperDrunkGuy World.
SuperDrunkGuy tells me he will not get out of the car if I do not agree to meet his wife. "This is such a bad idea," I tell him. "She will LOVE you!" he says.
As SuperDrunkGuy and I head up the walk to the front of his house, he realizes something important.
"I forgot to tell my wife I was golfing today."
The door opens.