Week Two: Uber Observations: Surprise!

I’m sitting having my morning tea at Peet’s and the local Uber app is lit up like a Christmas tree. If I was a morning person, I could be out there making 2x, but I’m not, so I’m sitting here enjoying hanging out with my posse at the cafe.

This week in Uber Observations is all about the element of SURPRISE!

I hate surprises. Really, I do.

For what it’s worth, my riders are the ones that are always surprised that I have no idea where they are headed until I start the trip. (I tried once starting the trip early, just so I could see the destination, but that backfired big time, when it was too far for me to drive and I had to cancel it.)

“Where are we going?”, I say.

“To work!”, they respond. Thinking that I somehow know where that is.

Or maybe they say, “I put the address in the app!”, with a tone that implies that I’m an idiot.

What I really want to know is, am I going around the block – yes, that happens – or should I pack an overnight bag? Last week I traveled some serious mileage – a few thirty+ mile trips one way – with no rider back. The overnight bag could have come in handy in that case. But instead, I ate a lot of gas and time. Sure I could have sat around San Rafael or Walnut Creek or down in Fremont and waited for a rider back to Berkeley, but how long would I have had to wait?

Seriously, until I swipe that bar, I have no idea. Surprise!

And then it’s a big surprise for you when I say, “There is no way I am driving fifty-four miles down to the South Bay in heavy traffic after driving already for six hours today. Sorry, you have to find another driver.” Are you ok with that? You better be, because I’m keeping you safe.

Another element of Uber surprise – the app shows you a photo of me and my car, but I have no idea who you are. I get a first name and that is it. I have no idea if that “Chris” is a man or a woman. No photo, no last name, no destination. Surprise! How many times has someone ordered up an Uber for their friend or girlfriend and aren’t even going on the trip? A lot.

Once I read the address and click on the GPS, I get the route map in chunks. I only know where the next turn is, I have no idea of the route. If the GPS is lagging behind me, which it often does, Surprise!, I miss the turn.

What else is a surprise? Fine print. Uber has a lot of fine print and it’s not easy to find. Yesterday I found out about an incentive to make more cash last week by filling a quota that was impossible to fill given the few hours left in the pay period by the time I got the memo.

I’m not a planner, but then I’m usually traveling by myself. I’m picking my own route, my own breaks, my own twists and turns. It’s nerve wracking to have a total stranger in the car and not know who they are or where they want to go until the last minute. Will they give me a five star rating or Surprise!, will they dock me to three or four for saying, “Have a beautiful rest of the day!” or “Have a safe flight!”. Multiply that by twenty times a day …

The map is still lit up, so maybe it’s time to take off to meet today’s surprises head on!

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