On using Uber every day for six months

For the last six months or so I’ve been taking Uber (or Lyft, whichever is cheapest at that moment) to go from work to home at the end of the day. The ride is short — just a few miles — and usually takes about 15 minutes. The cost lands mostly between $8 — 10, assuming non-surge pricing. The following are a few observations in light of this.

It’s always a little awkward

Most of the time when I’m being driven in an Uber I’m concentrating hard on something else and not paying too much attention to the obvious dynamic in the car. But my mind of course often wanders and then I can’t stop thinking about the drivers and why they’re doing this; why they likely have to do it. Ultimately, I end up feeling bad and thinking that in most instances they’d rather be doing anything other than shuffling nobodies from A to B. The only thing that helps is to remember how many taxi drivers there are (were?), and that there’s really nothing new about this transaction. (DoorDash, however…)

Please don’t talk to me

I have zero desire to talk to you. I realize you’re probably bored, but I’m legitimately trying to get stuff done. That’s why I’m paying you to drive me. It’s not always a problem, but when it is it can make the entire trip somewhat pointless. The worst is when I have my headphones in and am clearly busy (or whatever), and the driver is motioning me for something other than help with where they’re going. Look, I can give you the best and funniest conversation of your life, but I don’t want to — I’m busy.

No joke; I think this should be a setting in the app. How much would you like to interact with your driver? Zero → sex.

It’s never cold enough

I run hot. Like, really hot. Like, “manopause” hot. It seems every Uber driver is most comfortable when sitting on a heat rock in the sun. This is California. I don’t get it. Instead of being able to control the car’s stereo (via Spotify, which is super cool, but something I’d never do, because I’m not an asshole), I’d much rather be given control of the A/C system.

They still haven’t worked out where to pick me up

Uber, it seems, has no memory. I work at Facebook, and get picked up from the same location every single day. I place the pin in the same spot every single day. Yes, the campus is large, but it’s not that large. Often I can watch my car — via the app — go right past me, and I just sit there waiting for the eventual u-turn. Routinely the drivers reach out asking which building I’m at, and sometimes they even call to request this information. I’m pretty sure I’ve never answered the phone, because that defeats the whole fucking point of using the service/app.

They still haven’t worked out where to drop me off

I get dropped off at the same apartment complex every day, but I always have to say something to the driver about where to actually let me out. Uber’s mapping software takes the driver one of two ways home, each of which ends up on a different side of my complex. No matter the side, I have to give explicit instructions to the driver as to which building is actually mine. How is this not yet codified in their system? “Yep, it’s Blanton again, at that same spot. Go here.”

Surge pricing sucks

And it sucks not just because it’s more money; it sucks because it can’t be predicted. There really seems to be no rhyme or reason to when this occurs and how much it’s going to hurt my wallet. I leave the office close to the same time each day, but often I’m hit with a 1.4–2x price hike. When this happens I of course open Lyft and see if they’re offering normal rates. Sometimes, they’re both in surge mode, but usually only when there’s some sort of event going on.

There’s been discussion recently about Uber getting rid of surge pricing; great for riders, terrible for drivers. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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