Uber. To some, it’s the fresh air of technology making finding rides easier. To others, it’s a company responsible for making the oft-criticized cab industry seem like an afterthought. For me, it started out as simply a way to somehow quickly make money after finding out I was being laid off. For nearly a year, I had been roaming the streets of New Orleans and beyond in an attempt to provide myself the funds I need to survive.
Now, before we get into the meat of the article, Uber may be many things to many people, but for me, it not only provides countless stories that help to propel my writing, but it also represents freedom in how I shape my life and manage to do more with less in terms of a steady, solid, eight-hour work day. Today, however, I’ll be sharing some interesting tidbits from my experiences.
Usually, my day starts before 6 p.m., and if I’m lucky (which isn’t always the case), I can come home after a full day of work with way more money than a normal job would provide me. Such is life, though; you have to take the good with the bad. Most rides end with me at least partly getting to know my passenger, and while nearly all are easy to deal with and friendly, sometimes things can get difficult. One early encounter had me wondering if this was going to be a typical thing.
This first story is a tale of unnerving anger between two people, neither of which happens to be me. Picking up a couple and immediately realizing that the pair has been arguing is never a great way to start the trip. Over the course of the ride, I find out a few interesting tidbits, all while still just trying to drive. For one, the lady in the car makes sure to mention to me that they had “obviously been fighting.” Great, but it gets better from there. Second, the man starts screaming at her. Apparently, they had left the engagement party of one of his best friends, because one or both of them were drunk. It’s hard to be sure who started it, but by the time he calls her “some girl,” you’re pretty sure it’s going to hell in a handbasket, especially when it’s very obvious that she’s not just some girl.
The ride suffers until the very end, when the male party makes sure to tell me that I’ll be properly tipped “for having to deal with this.” Obviously, this was fun for all, and with that, I drop them off and hope for the best.
Things aren’t always so easy, though. For a moment, imagine you’re a white person, male or female, it doesn’t matter. Then imagine you picked up someone who had a ride requested for him by his employer. Imagine even further that this black man instantly starts telling you about how much he hates white people, which I happen to be. Imagine how safe and comfortable you would be at hearing that. That was my life during this trip into the deep Bywater and beyond, as we cross the whole French Quarter en route to, and past, the bridge at the edge of the world. It’s over in relatively decent time, and given that I didn’t end up in a gutter having been butchered at the hands of a rampant racist who hates every other color besides his own (which is a direct quote from Mr. Passenger of the Year) and you just appreciate how badly a situation could have gotten if something had gone afoul.
Other rides are the exact opposite of that. People come to NOLA for an escape, to some degree. They let their hair down, go crazy, maybe meet a person of the opposite sex and see where it goes. I bring this up because it pertains to the last entry I’ll share with you today.
I pick up five gorgeous, voluptuous women from the great city of Atlanta (notwithstanding my hatred for all things Falcons), and boy oh boy, are these ladies hungry for fun, in a variety of ways. All five of these beauties are incredibly nice, but one special lady stands out among all of them. She stands out, you see, because of how much she expressed a certain kind of interest in me. I think you see where this is going. I pick them up at the Country Club, which is known … hmmm … for being a little crazy. Over the course of the next 20 or so minutes, this lady targets her eyes, and probably other things, right on me.
Now, I’d like to think I’m a somewhat attractive, smart, and humorous fellow, but by the way this lady was acting, you would have thought I was her Adonis or something. Arm stroking and playing with my hair from the backseat quickly become her main focus. Even with her friends asking her to stop and me not really responding, her quest would not be impeded. Shortly after that, the questions start. I’m asked what color lingerie I prefer for my “ride or die” lady (I can’t use the actual words for what she called herself), how I like my women groomed, and also how many male friends I can get to join us in their room after the ride is over. This happens in the first seven minutes of the trip.
A few more questions come, all in an overtly sexual manner, and all of which don’t seem as important as the fifth or so question she asks me. That fifth question is, “Do you have a girlfriend?” And unfortunately for this hungry vixen, it doesn’t end in the way she hoped. I note that I have an awesome lady with whom I’m very happy, but my hunter isn’t deterred in the slightest. The next response pretty much puts everything else to shame. “How am I gonna get your seed if you have a woman?”
This essentially puts every other person in the car into a “Oh my God, I can’t even” trance, and within the next few minutes, we arrive at their hotel, and the ladies are struggling with this woman to get her out of the car as she repeatedly tries to give me her room number and asks me to come up. Oh, to be a single man in New Orleans. But, given her excitement, I’d be very surprised if she didn’t eventually set her sights on someone else while visiting our fair city.
These things happen. Not couples arguing in my car or girls asking for my very essence, but drunk passengers. It’s totally understandable, but you really never know how hard it is to do a job when individuals under the influence are making your own sobriety yearn for some peace and quiet. But it comes with the territory, especially if you’re choosing to drive at night on a weekend in our Crescent City. Sometimes it’s funny and the passengers are bundles of joy who will gladly tip you after a successful trip (which doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should). Other times they might passive aggressively comment about how Uber drivers don’t know what they’re doing and how dumb they are while I’m driving, but for the most part, if you’re courteous to the passengers, it will likely be returned to you.
In short, Uber provides an alternative to making money the traditional way and offers drivers and passengers alike a friendlier, cheaper, and often cleaner experience than those provided in the old world of taxis. And with that, my tale of adventures in Uber comes to an end. In closing, I’d like to say to be nice to your Uber driver, and tip, because they’re helping you out!