This past week I blogged about the following:
Category: Uber Tales
Uber Tales – Working for an Algorithm, Edition
Over the last six years, I’ve worked for an algorithm. Prior to that, I worked for humans for seventeen years (give or take). And I’ll take the algorithm over the humans because as one of my passengers said to me recently when we got to talking about human vs. algorithms: with the algorithm it’s nothing personal.
Over the last six years or so since I’ve done gig work as it’s called, I’ve read a fair number of articles about working for an algorithm vs. working for humans. In my definitely not-so-humble opinion, most of these articles weren’t written by people with the level of experience I have working for both humans and algorithms. So, with that being said, I’ll talk about working for an algorithm vs. working for humans and yes, I will point out both the pros and cons of each.
First, are algorithms biased or flawed? Hell yes because they’re designed and programmed by humans. Anyone expecting perfection from an algorithm is an idiot, so this argument is bullshit in my opinion. Because to me, if an algorithm can be programmed with biases, it can also be programmed without those biases and go strictly by the data it’s fed. In my experience, algorithms mostly go by data and honestly, I don’t see how they factor in my age and gender for example. I’ve busted my ass to have the stats I have and in corporate America, that didn’t always translate into success.
Second, do algorithms change? All the time and sometimes I can see it and sometimes it’s subtle I can’t. Is there anything I can do about it? No, and that’s because computer programming and algorithms are way above my pay grade so I won’t claim any knowledge or expertise on how they work or anything like that (unlike some people on this planet unfortunately).
For me, the algorithm just wants me to do my job. And my job as an Uber driver isn’t that hard to be honest. I drive safely, get my passengers where they need to go, and be nice to them. I also do reserve rides and I go online when the app tells me to, get to my pickup early, wait patiently, and get my passengers where they need to go. The more I do this, the more opportunities I get. Also, I don’t turn down every other ride or cancel every other ride. I’m online to do a job and if I don’t want to do it, then I need to go offline. One big problem I’ve seen with some people is they want to dictate the schedule and the work and that’s not how it works at all. When you work for wages as my daddy once told me, you do what the boss tells you to.
How about the money, you may ask. There has been speculation that the algorithm adjusts rates in many ways, but I have no knowledge of this at all as again, that kind of thing is way above my pay grade. Also, there has been speculation of disparities in rates in cities and yes, even among drivers. Again, way above my pay grade so no speculation on that from me here. But I will say this: there were pay disparities were in corporate America, and I knew that for certain. Those disparities are why employers erroneously tell their employees not to discuss pay rates with each other. Trust me, it pissed me off back in my corporate chicken-shit salad days to find out someone with less experience and tenure got paid more than I did simply because the company chose to hire them at a higher pay rate than me.
Now about equal pay for equal work: is there such a thing as equal work? By this I mean what if you have someone who meets or exceeds set metrics for their job, who shows a commitment to quality work, and who shows up on time and doesn’t create extra work and messes for other people to clean up? Shouldn’t they be compensated accordingly? Is it fair to pay them the exact same wage as someone who doesn’t really do the job well and at times makes things difficult for everyone else? I worked with people who did the bare minimum and as long as they didn’t cause too much trouble or act like an asshole too often, I left them alone. But for the most part, that’s not the case.
I’m not saying everyone who gets canned or de-activated from an app is a slacker or has an attitude problem. Apps and algorithms are flawed because of the humans that design and program them. In the event something goes wrong, there are humans behind the app you can reach out to. I will admit I’ve had very few issues with the apps I’ve worked for, and they’ve all been resolved fairly and in my favor. Back in my corporate days, that wasn’t always the case.
For me, the best thing I like about working for the algorithm is the fact it’s not riding my ass every five minutes like some humans I worked for. It’s not petty or stupid like some of the humans I worked for. I like the fact that unless I take on a reserve ride, the algorithm doesn’t care when I work or how long I work. So, if I’m just not feeling it, I can log off and go home. Now I know not all jobs are like mine here but trust me, I don’t need to be told when to work or how long. I’m an adult and yes, I can manage my time.
Finally, the financial hardships I’ve had with this job are due to the nature of the business and it’s not just gig-work this happens in. A lot of jobs are ebb and flow, and you just have to ride those tides out as best as you can. But if anyone thinks things are perfectly stable, they obviously didn’t live though 2020, or if they did, they’re in a serious case of denial.
In the end if you ask me what I prefer, I prefer the algorithm because it lets me do my job without having to deal with the whims, politics, and the mental and emotional hemorrhoids of some humans.
The Best Dating App Questions
I’m currently not a dating app user and last posted on a dating app over ten years ago. I quickly realized they weren’t for me but I know many people use them and this morning I came up with what I think might be the best question to put on a dating app:
How do you handle your date and or significant other talking to other people in a social setting like at an event or a party, especially when they’re talking with someone of the opposite gender?
This question came to me because last night I picked up a couple from the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo (I’m an Uber driver here in San Antonio) and yes, they were drunk (which they admitted to me) but as the old saying goes, alcohol brings out the truth. With these two, it made me want to message the young lady (she had just turned twenty-one and the guy said he was a millennial so I’m thinking there was a bit of an age difference here) and tell her to dump this sorry loser’s ass. Why? Because of the way he practically interrogated her because she talked to this guy and girl they were seated next to. The loser-jerk kept telling her the guy was hitting on her and so on. The young lady said something very telling in reply to this loser jerk in that she was conflict-adverse and just trying to be nice.
There’s a quote from the author Margaret Attwood (she wrote ‘The Handmaid’s Tale): “Men are afraid women will reject them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”
And before I go any further here I want to say this:
I’m not saying all men are insensitive assholes, and I’m not going to address women who are insecure and jealous because that’s not the topic of conversation here so if you want to come at me with these bullshit arguments, I’m not going to tolerate that bullshit at all.
Now, back to the situation last night:
Another thing that really bothered me about this couple was how he kept telling her not to do things, like laugh too much or just talk about anything he didn’t want to talk about. Very controlling and domineering, acting like he knew better and that she was just being drunk and stupid. I will say most drunk people these days are borderline jerks because a lot of shitty behavior is exposed like this. And I know controlling and domineering behavior is rooted in deeply-buried insecurity and emotional issues, so I think a second question for any potential dating app or relationships in general is this:
Have you worked on your emotional issues and shit?
Because another thing I want to say when people are being irrational and insecure is work on your own shit!
A good number of people in this world have what I would call borderline-shit social skills and can’t read a room very well. Most people can’t really interpret social cues nearly as well as they think they can and because of that, people feel like they’re walking on eggshells, especially women. Because I was wondering how many women who are called ‘flirty’ are that way in order to not be accused of being a bitch if they don’t want to talk to someone, especially a man? Quite a few, I bet. I bet a lot of women subconsciously are hyper-vigilant around men because of bad experiences. It’s a damned if you, damned if you don’t kind of thing and that is complete and total fucking bullshit. No one should feel like they have to be a certain way or be hyper-vigilant around people just because they’ve had to deal with so many insecure assholes in their past (and present).
Now some naysayers have said social media has eroded people’s in-person social skills to the crap we’re dealing with now and I’m calling bullshit on that. People’s social skills were just as fucked up before the advent of social media and the internet because I remember life before the internet quite well. Online you can create a persona and craft your responses very carefully if you choose to or let your guard down completely and be good or bad.
As the great author Maya Angelou once said: “When people show you what they’re like, believe them.”
So, for me, if someone shows me they’re an insecure douche-canoe, I’m not going to write that off to alcohol or anything else. It’s going to be a neon-sign warning that I’m going to heed. And if some moron wants to come at me and say my standards are too high and I’ll end up all alone then good for me.
If dating apps allowed profanity in questions (which I’m not sure if they do or not) I’d put this piece into one question:
Have you worked on your emotional shit and if so, do you know how not to act like an insecure douche-canoe asshole in public or private?
The (slightly) Defiant Reason I Drive an Uber
Whenever I’m asked why I started driving an Uber I always say it’s because I needed a job and I wasn’t able to get anything else going at the time. And that is true as it was a financial need that drove me to sign up for Uber.
When I first signed up for Uber, there were no tutorials or instructions on how to use the app or any instruction on what to do if there was a problem other than solve it on your own (no live support back then). But I’m a problem solver and I’m pretty good at figuring out stuff so these weren’t problems for me. What I quickly discovered was how I liked not dealing with asshole-human managers and being able to set my own hours. Now the money does fluctuate, and sometimes it really fluctuates hard. Not long after I first started driving, Uber got kicked out of Austin (they got into it with the city of Austin over the issue of background checks though after a couple of months the state legislature stepped in and got the city of Austin and Uber to kiss and make up). But that influx of drivers drove demand pretty low and I seriously questioned my choice of gig-company yet I stayed with it. That was my first lesson in how to ride out a downturn (which happens quite often as this business is highly-subject to supply and demand).
Where the act of defiance comes into play is this: if my father was alive he would have told me ‘no, no, and no’ in taking on this job. My late father was terribly over-protective of me and thought I should work a nice office job or hopefully make it as a writer so I could live and work in a nice little house somewhere. He would have told me it was too dangerous unless I carried a gun (which is prohibited under Uber driver rules) or if I did defy him he would tell me to only work during daylight hours or something like that.
Yes, I’ve driven in parts of town that a lot of people wouldn’t consider ‘nice’ or ‘safe’ though I’ve never, ever had any trouble. I’ve just dropped people off then went into ‘unavailable’ status and headed out, or as I like to say, I don’t stick around for autographs. Also, I don’t work past midnight unless I’ve picked up someone from the airport and nine times out of ten these people nap in the backseat on their way home because they’ve been traveling all day. I have done late-night 2am bar pickups but drunks haven’t been fun since covid so I’ve taken myself out of at the risk-factor of mean-ass behavior and the potential for puke (luckily, no one has ever puked in my car).
All my life, or at least until the last few years since my dad died, I did think I was fragile and not able to go anywhere near a potentially ‘rough’ place. But I’m going to talk about something here I’ve never really talked about before because there are potential ‘risky’ places and situations everywhere.
I worked in call-centers for the better part of seventeen years and those places could be soul-sucking pressure cookers. In one of them, rumors began to go around that security was going to start searching cars and bags at the entrance and desks for weapons. We began to talk about what to do if someone walked in the place and started shooting, always making a note of exits and where to hide. Another place I worked we used to talk about how security was a useless joke and how easy it would be for someone to walk in and start shooting and how the escape routes and hiding places sucked. So, there were times when I feared for my safety in these places.
The closest I ever came to getting really nervous about my safety in my Uber was in the summer of 2020 one weekend when these right-wing gun-toting bozos paraded around Alamo Plaza with guns and got a fucking police escort instead of being hauled off. I was boxed in by traffic and I just prayed these assholes wouldn’t lock and load and start shooting. I saw a phalanx of riot police that day and yes, I was scared fucking shitless something terrible was going to happen. The left-wing counter protestors were unarmed and peaceful and I’m glad I got to pick them up instead of the right-wing nuts.
But other than that day, I’ve never truly feared for my safety. And I can deflect and defuse people who start to act like assholes muttering shit to me or hitting on me though I can count the number of assholes who have done that and still have fingers and toes left over. The incredibly-vast majority of my passengers are awesome, and I think they make the Uber gig truly worthwhile. But even after close to six years on the road, sometimes I still feel like I’m defying my late father’s over-protectiveness and other people who have tried to follow his lead.
When I’m on the road, I lock in and drive and though my mind can wander sometimes, I’ve got the thousands of hours and miles of driving experience where I can successfully do that. And I do maintain what I call ‘situational awareness’ on the road and where I’m at all times, but then I do that no matter where I’m at.
So, my take on this: be defiant in doing what you want to do but be smart about it and don’t take risks you don’t have to while you keep your shit together at all times.
Uber Tales: Never a Dull Day, Edition
I still haven’t had a completely wacked-out Uber driving experience but in the last couple of days I’ve had a few quirks in the driving Matrix here.
Last night I was taking this lady home from the airport, and she lived in a high enough-dollar subdivision that had a guard at the gate. She was a nice lady, really friendly and a good tipper. Now when I was coming back out of the neighborhood the guard is standing by the guard shack and he waves at me to stop. So, I stop and he comes up to my car and he says he loves my haircut. Okay, I’m thinking that’s an interesting compliment and say thanks to be polite. Then I tell him I cut it myself and he says he’s a barber (though maybe not the most successful barber if he’s working as a security guard on the night shift, but to each their own). He then goes on and on about how he’d love to cut my hair and would be willing to do it for free. He says he’s cut ladies hair as short as mine and in fact, offered to cut mine into a flattop. I keep politely declining him and trying to get him to stop talking. Now I’ve had hair stylists compliment me on my hair all my life and gush about how they love my hair is really awesome according to them (it’s thick and wavy and when back when I had it monstrously-long it was a major pain the ass to maintain so that’s why I keep so short now). Finally, just before I was about to flat-out tell him I needed to get back to work, he let me go.
But jeez, Universe, why can’t I get the attention of someone who doesn’t come off as a total borderline-perv loser (he was an older white-haired dude who did give off a slightly pervy vibe)? Why can’t I attract, even for just a few minutes, a Keanu Reeves or George Clooney type?
Then earlier in my day yesterday I get what I thought would be a nice lady but a lady whose dumb-ass arguments I had to demolish one by one. First off she asks me how I feel about President Biden’s administration hiring a bunch of new IRS agents because they’re going to go after little peons like me. I told her that was a bunch of whack (politely) and said it was to go after the big tax cheats (which it is). Then she talked about gas prices and how the President sets them and how they went up because he stopped fracking. I immediately schooled her on the greed of the oil business and how we don’t need to frack for oil. Then she talked about the evils of labor unions until I set her straight there and told her how labor unions ended child labor and brought about protections for workers. Then just as we were turning in to her hotel she says the country is going downhill because we got away from God. I let that one slide because her God and my God are two different entities. I also didn’t tell her how she’d probably shit bricks if she walked into the grocery store nearby and saw women in full chadors and veils and African women in their very colorful and beautiful dresses. Because the side of town I live on is a mix of rich and poor, and at times my lily-white ass is in the minority, and I love that. But to buy in to those dumb-ass arguments because Fox News says so- not in my car.
Then early Monday morning (around five a.m.) I head to a pickup with a slight case of dread. The location tends to mess with the GPS so I’m not entirely sure sometimes where my pickup is in this area. Well, the pickup was outside the sleazy strip bar next to some apartments. And my pickup was waiting at the end of the parking lot for me- a single guy who seemed reasonably sober. So, I pick him up and it’s not a long ride back to his drop off (a hotel downtown). He tells me his buddies left him at this strip club and I told him that sucked. Then he says something about picking up a ‘scoundrel’ like him. He wasn’t Han Solo in any way, shape, or form so I said NOTHING to that. Instead, I focused on turning up my ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe, which must have worked because he clammed up and didn’t say jack till we got to his hotel and he thanked me for the ride (and tipped me well like my right-wing nut lady and the lady who lived in the neighborhood with the guard-letch).
I don’t like strip-club pickups because I had one guy hit on me so bad he made me an indecent proposal (which he immediately apologized for after I called him out on it with a simple, “Excuse me?”) and others where the guys were drunk and pissed off because they didn’t get a blow job from one of the strippers. I have so much respect for women who work in strip clubs because of all the shit they take. But these days us ladies seem to take so much damn shit (even from other ladies) and I think we’ve had enough. I was talking to one of my fellow woman-drivers and she was telling me how she told off one of the other drivers at the airport waiting lot for being an asshole to her (he hit on her and she turned him down and he got all pissy about it so she chewed him out in front of all his fellow-guy drivers- I would have paid good money to see that).
So, there’s never a dull day on the road and the tips are very good.
In Search of Subtitles (for my books)
Ever since I started my non-fiction book projects, I’ve been in search of a subtitle for each one that fits the book. Why? Because I feel like the subtitle gives the reader an expectation about what they’re going to be reading about. The title is like a summary and the subtitle is like a bit more detail. Today as I got out of the shower, five subtitles came to me and I scribbled them down onto a piece of notebook paper before I updated each page here with the subtitle. Now here’s the story and meaning behind each one:
Breaking Radio Silence: A Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid
In the Fall of 2016 when I first conceived of what would become ‘Breaking Radio Silence’, I simply labeled the file ‘Untitled Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid’. The goal at that time was to use writing to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did and to use my own experiences to illustrate anything I learned in the process. The title ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ wouldn’t come to me till the Spring of 2018 and it fit perfectly from the moment it came to me. But for the last four years this has been a book project in search of a subtitle until today. And as I start writing this book in earnest now, I need all the focus I can get so this is why a subtitle was so important for this project.
Stand or Fall: A Rebellion of Hope
After the US Presidential Election in 2016, I (along with millions of other people) went, “What the hell just happened?” I came up with an idea to use writing to try and figure out how things got so fucked up. Now of course I didn’t know what the next six years would go nor could I have imagined what’s happened even in my worst nightmares. At the time I first came up with this project-idea, I simply labeled the file, ‘Untitled Political Book’ because at that time I knew this book was going to be seen as political. Like, duh but I’m not a scholar so I thought I’d make it personal and tell my own story alongside what’s happened in the last forty years or so in terms of politics and the world in general. I was searching for a subtitle for this book because I kept asking myself what the purpose of writing this if not just for myself? And then the quote from the movie ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ came to my mind, “Rebellions are built on hope.” That’s what I want this book to be, a statement of rebellion and hope.
Behind the Story: How I Write and the Stories Behind My Writing
This book’s origins are a bit murky though I think I came up with this one sometime in 2018, I think around Fall if I remember correctly. Initially I wanted to do a straight how-to book but then I realized for me writing is more than just how-to. There’s a lot to my writing and I think my story in regards to that is worth telling. Now the title of this book was a struggle for me as the title just came to me a couple of months ago but without the subtitle until today.
Uber Tales: Stories and Observations From Behind the Wheel as an Uber Driver
Not long after I started working as an Uber driver in 2017, I began to post on my personal Facebook page stories and observations from the road that I titled ‘Uber Tales’. They took off and people really like hearing my stories and observations so I began to think there was a book in there. As of right now, I don’t have any really crazy or outrageous stories from the road and a lot has happened and changed since I started driving. Also, I’ve read a lot of news articles about Uber driving and I don’t really think a lot of these journalists have talked to a lot of drivers, or any at all. So I want to tell my story and it’s just my story because each driver has their own unique experiences and observations though over the years I’ve talked with other drivers and we do share some common thoughts and experiences.
Dirty Thoughts and Stories: Talking Dirty About Sex and Other Naughty Things and Fiction Inspired By My Dirty Thoughts
This is in its’ earliest stages right now mostly based on my blog here though I think over time I’ll have enough material for a book. This is a mix of non-fiction blog entries that might get expanded into longer essays along with fiction stories. The title is sort of self-explanatory as talking about sex is seen as dirty by a small yet very vocal segment of our population who really just need to learn how to get over their hang-ups and have some fun in life instead of trying to control every aspect of everyone else’s life, especially their sex lives. And naughty fiction is just fun to write and I’m not going to back down on that.
So this is where I’m at on these projects just to give out an update. It feels good to have subtitles I like and that fit well. Now I just need to get my ass to writing, which I will be doing in addition to everything else I need to do (like earn a living, eat, sleep, bathe, take care of my pets, etc.).
Uber Tales – Married Conversations, Edition
In five years of doing this gig, I’ve had plenty of married couples in the car. And yes, I can gauge the temperature of the relationship by what is said, or not said, or how it’s said, or what they do (or don’t do).
Have I had any couples that were in, shall we say, a frosty mood?
One comes to mind: It was late one night and I pick up this couple (lady and dude) with their dog. They’re not going too far but they’ve been drinking so I’m keeping them out of the clink. She starts in on him about this friend of his who, according to her, is a jerk. She really didn’t like this guy and from what she was saying, I think she was right in feeling like she did. Hubby really wasn’t defending his choice of friend too well and when we got to their house she got out of the car and just walked up to the house without looking back or waiting him. All I could think of was that he was probably thinking about shacking up with the dog in the doghouse because that’s where it felt like she was putting him up for the night.
Have I had any drunk couples and if so, how did it go?
I’ve had a few and a couple come to mind:
One couple I picked up I watched them walk out of the house together and I thought they were just hanging off each other. No, he was practically carrying her down the driveway. Luckily, we weren’t going too far and both were in a good mood and laughing about their predicament. The couple that gets drunk together stays together.
Another couple I picked up one night late from a swanky hotel-resort wasn’t happy. Hubby was practically carrying wifey out of the place and when she got in she cracked the window, leaned up against the side, then moaned and groaned all the way to their place (and had me hoping she wasn’t going to puke in the car- luckily she didn’t). We get to their place and hubby got her out of the car and started walking with her up to their house. But when she reached the mailbox (a nice big stone one), she ducked behind it and proceeded to hurl really hard (only had audio and not visual, thank doG). Hubby just nodded his head and kept walking up to the house. I honestly wonder how much she was going to remember the next morning but was forever grateful she didn’t puke him my car.
Usually when I get a couple in my car, they either clam up and don’t say much or they talk about boring stuff that doesn’t merit an Uber Tale. But in the last week, I’ve had three conversations that were a mix of dumb, condescending, and possible gaslighting.
I pick up this couple early one morning and the hubby contradicts every single thing the wifey says, like dates and what happened and any other detail. I’m thinking one of two things: she’s a ding-bat with a faulty memory (slight possibility on that as she did admit she had their driveway paved with a slight bend instead of straight, which would have been more practical), or hubby was a dickhead who always had to be right. My take was that this was a dysfunctional marriage these two seem to be stuck in.
Then I pick up this other couple and hubby acts surprised by every single thing wifey says, like he’s hearing it for the first time. Wifey doesn’t sound stupid or anything but hubby sure acted like he was a dumb-ass. To me, it sort of felt like he was talking down to her.
Then I had another couple in which hubby was like trying to explain to wifey every single thing he was seeing from the back passenger seat (okay, I understand not a lot of people get to be a passenger in a car looking at stuff). Again, the slightly condescending tone rubbed me the wrong way because he was also contradicting her replies to him, too (attempted gaslighting, anyone?).
From these conversations I was beginning to ask myself: are there really marriages that are this messed up? And I’m wondering how many women think they’re ding-bat idiots when in reality they’re just married to condescending gaslighting assholes?
I’m just glad I’ve never been asked to be a marriage counselor with any of these couples because that’s something I wouldn’t do except for the promise of a record-breaking tip ($100+).
Uber Tales, Advice Given (and not given), Edition
Over my five years as an Uber driver, I have been asked for advice and have been careful in giving it. And in my five years as a driver, I’ve also kept my advice to myself even when I really wanted to give it.
This past Sunday evening, I picked up this young lady from the airport and when she got in the car she proceeded to call someone like a lot of people do (people call family to let them they’re on their way home a lot). I hear her tell someone she’s landed and on her way home then she goes, “I’m not being sassy.” Then she proceeded to argue that she was just calling to tell this person (sounded like an asshole-boyfriend) she was on her way home and no, she had things to do and was going to order in dinner. All I could think was that she didn’t sound ‘sassy’ at all on the phone and why did she have to put up with this shit? I really wanted to tell her to dumb this douche-bag and save herself the hassle of dealing with an idiot who seemed to want an argument. I think douche-bag boyfriends who do this kind of shit, accuse the girl they’re with of stuff she didn’t do are probably fucking around or just trying to be controlling douche-bags.
Another time I picked up this couple from a bar one night and on the radio the song, ‘Baby One More Time’ by Brittney Spears came on. Well the chick began singing along and she had a good voice and in the rearview mirror I could also see her getting down and wanting to do lap-dance on her boyfriend (or husband, I wasn’t exactly sure what his significant-other title was). He was totally ignoring her and making snide comments about my driving just loud enough to where I could hear them (I was taking it a bit easy since the road I was driving down was bumpy as hell). All I could think was his girlfriend-wife was horny and if he played his cards right he could have gotten laid as soon as they got to their place. But because he was mouthing off at me I wanted to tell her to dump this douche-bag’s ass, or at least make sure he didn’t get laid that night.
Then another time I picked up this guy one afternoon and he got on the phone with a friend of his and proceeded to talk some serious shit about this girl they both knew. My douche-bag passenger was saying how he’d lied to this girl and said she was pretty and stuff when in reality he was calling her fat and ugly and all kinds of nasty shit. All I could think was I hope this girl kicked this guy in the nuts the next time she saw him because I was hoping that my mental yelling to her would reach her in some way.
Then another time I went to a convenience store for an early-morning pickup and there is this couple there. Chick is laying into this guy accusing him of cheating and stuff and he’s trying to tell her he’s not. He’s the one that ordered the Uber so he put his stuff in and was trying to get this chick to calm down but she wasn’t having it. Then she grabbed his phone out of his hand and started scrolling through it. At that point, he’d had enough and got in and I let him use my phone to call a buddy of his (his buddy’s apartment was his destination) to let him know he was on his way and that his psycho girlfriend had his phone. I think the chick was pretty drunk but man, she was a crazy-ass drunk. I wanted to tell the dude to cut off his phone plan, report his phone as stolen, and dump this crazy bitch.
In the above three situations, I didn’t say anything because people have to figure things out for themselves. But one time, I was asked for some advice and I carefully weighed and measured it out.
I picked up this young lady one night and as we got going she goes, “Can I ask you a question?” I go, “Sure, what is it?” She asks me if I think long-distance relationships can work. I tell her I think they can if both partners are committed to one another and work at it. Then she asks me if that applies if both people live in the same city. I go, “Huh?” and she must have heard the puzzlement in my voice because she proceeds to lay out her situation. She tells me she and this guy in question had been together off-and-on for about three years or so and had just gotten married a couple of months back. But a few days before this ride, he’d moved out to a place across town but wasn’t telling her why. She then asked me if she should try talking to him. I told her if he was willing to sit down and talk with her to just listen to him without interruption and think through what he said. Then she told me she’d just gotten out of the hospital and found out she was pregnant. Then I told her my personal take was that he might want to have his cake and eat it, too and if so, she was going to have to make some hard decisions. I wished her well but in reality, I wanted to tell her to dump the asshole and that if she kept the baby to get as much child-support as she could from him.
I like to think most people are good people, and they are. But when I encounter a shit-head or someone dealing with one, it’s hard not to lose a little faith each time. My take is why be with someone if they’re just going to shit all over you? I know a lot of these shit-heads tell their victims they can’t make it on their own. I want to tell anyone, male or female, you can do just fine on your own. You’ll be a lot happier without dealing with this kind of hot-and-cold insensitive bullshit. Because the piece of advice I’d really like to give here is this: it’s not your purpose in life to pull someone’s head out of their ass. And as my late mother used to say, people like this very rarely, if ever change so to me, there’s no reason to stay with someone who makes you feel like shit more often than not.
But this is just my advice so you can take or leave it.
Uber Tales, Roll With the Flow, Edition
A couple of days ago, I had a passenger ask me what lessons I’ve learned from being an Uber driver. It was an interesting question and one I’d never been asked before so I gave it a go.
The first thing that came to me was that I’ve learned to just roll with the flow. I’ve said the only predictable thing about this gig is its’ unpredictability and because of that, you’ve got to learn to roll with that. A good example of this is what I call a ‘doldrum period’. On average this happens at least twice a year: right after New Year’s when everyone’s worn out and broke and after Memorial Day weekend when again, everyone’s worn out and broke. I have to remind myself these times will happen and to try and be better prepared.
Another roll-with-the-flow lesson can be applied to travel times. During morning or afternoon rush every so often I’ll get stuck in a traffic jam. Luckily I’ve never had a passenger complain about this. In fact I’ve had a few apologize though I tell them traffic jams aren’t their fault (and they’re not because the route we’re on sometimes the only way into their destination). I tell them traffic jams are a part of my job and besides, I’m on the clock so I’m still getting paid.
Another roll-with-the-flow lesson is in talking to people. The vast majority of my passengers are awesome and whether or not they want to talk is entirely up to them. Now in the past I used to hate having right-wing idiots in my car because they can be a bit forceful and I used to get nervous about them flying off the handle and doing something stupid. Now I’ve learned how to counter their dumb-ass arguments so well they’re agreeing with me. For example, the shitty one about immigrants overrunning the country is one I counter by saying immigrants are probably one of the most exploited groups of people in this country and they’re not coming for anyone’s fancy white-collar job, or even blue-collar job. Instead, immigrants usually work under-the-table and behind-the-scenes and are out of sight for most people. The other right-wing dumb-ass argument I like to counter is that we’ve been taxing the wrong people and that’s not the government’s fault but Congress handing down tax breaks to the wealthy for decades.
Then there is the drunk roll-with-the-flow. And how do you know someone is drunk? The number-one indicator to me is most drunks are really repetitive, and usually repeat the dumbest stuff over and over. But I don’t call them out on it. Instead, I just go mumble and keep driving. Most drunks are okay and pretty friendly and if I get a nasty one I just keep my mouth shut and tell myself at least I don’t have to live with them and listen to them puke.
Yet another roll-with-the-flow is what to do when you ask someone how they’re doing and you get a crazy story from way out of left field. Like last night when I picked up this young lady and I asked how she was doing and she said better now that she hadn’t been ‘jumped’ today. Then I got the story behind that: the night before she’d gone out drinking with some friends and they ended up at a party at an abandoned house out in the middle of nowhere with this crazy chick and her eight brothers who all claimed to be armed with guns. Crazy chick kept telling my passenger she wanted to kick her ass and that if my passenger fought back her brothers would shoot her dead. Luckily, my passenger got out alive and without getting shot or beaten. She also said she was cutting off the friend who took her to this little gathering to begin with. When you hear a story like that you just have to roll with it though I told her I’d stick to the city if I were her.
Finally, the best take on roll-with-the-flow is that it keeps you from driving like an asshole. I deal with idiot drivers all the time and the worst driving I see is the following:
Texting and Driving
DON’T DO THOSE THINGS WHEN YOU’RE IN THE CAR!!!
Speeding in and out of traffic is dangerous because there are other cars and it doesn’t make you look cool. In fact, I say it makes you look like the pencil-dick and or dried-up coochie (for the ladies who do this) asshole that you are.
Tailgating is just dumb as hell because that’s an accident waiting to happen. And if someone is boxed in there’s nowhere to go riding their bumper isn’t going to magically clear the road in front of them. And if you’re too fucking stupid to go around if you’ve got the room, then you should get out and walk.
And NO ONE is capable of texting and driving so just stop doing that shit. Also, don’t hold your phone and drive with one hand. Get a freaking mount if you want to talk and drive or just put your damn phone down and concentrate on your driving.
I think the biggest lesson with roll-with-the-flow is that you learn how to think through things and also be considerate of others. Which is the most important lesson I think anyone can learn in life.
Uber Tales – Frequently Asked Questions, Edition
I’m going to list some of my most frequently asked questions (FAQ) here but if you have any questions for me that are not listed here, just let me know in the comments.
How long have I been driving for Uber?
- Five years as of this year.
Do I like it?
- Yes. (If I didn’t I don’t think I would have stayed with it as long as I have because of the freedom I have with this job).
- Current record holder is three hours (would have been three and a half if I hadn’t taken a couple of alternate routes around some high-traffic areas)
- Current record is still $100 though if anyone wants to break that record they’re more than welcome to.
Any really strange or outrageous passengers?
- Nothing totally bizarre or anyone I couldn’t handle.
How much time do I spend at the airport?
- Enough to where I sometimes call it my home-away-from-home.
Are you from San Antonio?
- Born and raised, and I’m old enough to remember when things were built, or something else.
When do you drive?
- Anytime I want to though my bank account pretty much dictates when I work and for how long.
Has anyone ever puked in your car?
- No, which I am forever grateful for. I’ve reduced that risk greatly by not 2 a.m. bar let-outs though I do get the occasional day-drunks.
Have I been like a bartender-therapist to people in the car?
- Yes. I don’t mind because sometimes people just need to talk and I’m more than happy to listen.
How many ‘morning after’s’ (formerly known as the ‘walk of shame’) have I done?
- Lots. And occasionally I get the story. And I call them ‘morning after’s’ because I had a family in the car one night (mom, dad, two young girls) and the mom was up front with me asking me questions. She was about to say ‘walk of shame’ but I stopped her with ‘morning after’ then angled my head towards her daughters in the backseat. I didn’t feel right saying ‘walk of shame’ in front of young kids and I think I also kept the mom from having to explain that term to her daughters.
- I was offered pot in lieu of a tip twice in one week. First time was when I dropped this guy off and he said he didn’t have any cash on him for a tip so I told him he could tip me through the app. Then he offered me something to eat or drink (I politely declined) then he went, “Can I offer you a bag of weed?” I went, “Uh what?” because I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly. He said yes rather enthusiastically but I declined and got out of there. Second time was a couple of days later when I was driving this lady home and she said she didn’t have cash for a tip so I told her she could tip in the app. Then she asked me if I wanted a joint but I declined smoothly by saying, “No, thank you, ma’am. I don’t smoke.”
- I’ve been asked out several times (declined firmly but politely) though I got a rather indecent proposal from this guy one night. He was drunk and hitting on me then he offered me money for an indecent time and I went, “Excuse me?” in a tone of voice that made it very clear he crossed a line. He apologized all over himself and I let him flop around like a fish on a hook for a minute or so before I told him, “Apology accepted.” He tipped me well so I let it slide.
If you would like to ask me something that wasn’t addressed here, please ask in the comments here and I’ll do my best to answer it. Thanks!