An UberPOOL Love Story

One of the things that annoys me most about driving for a rideshare company is their pool features.  If you’re not in a major metro area, it may not be available to you, so I’ll briefly explain:  for a little less money, you can share your Uber or Lyft potentially with other people who are headed generally in the same direction.  It takes longer, but if you’re all about the bottom line and don’t mind fraternizing with the freakshow general public, this is your deal.  For Uber it’s called UberPOOL, for Lyft it’s call LyftLine.  Most of the time, people don’t want to talk to each other, so it’s twice the social awkwardness for half the price.

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But every now and then, you get someone who wants to talk.  I once had a great conversation with a guy and a girl and they ended up exchanging numbers.  That was maybe the only time it was a good trip.

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One of the things that makes it awkward, is that people often don’t realize that there is already someone in the car, so they don’t know where to sit.  Sane people tend to sit in the rear passenger side seat, which is perfect.  But sometimes they’ll sit up with me, which I hate.  I can not stress it enough:  your driver wants you to sit in the back seat, no matter how cool of a passenger you are.  Trust me on this.  Without realizing, you may start to forget that you’re not in your friend’s car.

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Sometimes people open the door without looking and see that someone’s in that seat, then walk all the way around the car.  It’s weird, uncomfortable and awkward.

One morning I’m in a Northwest suburb in the valley and a girl orders an UberPOOL, and naturally, I’m immediately in a bad mood.  I make a lot less money on these trips, and I’m already in a zone that has probably never surged, ever.  How much fucking cheaper do you need the ride to be?

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So I ask her if she meant to do a Pool trip, because sometimes they do it accidentally.  She says it’s fine.  And I can’t help but think, “Is it?  You cheap prick?”

They add another passenger and when I go to pick him up, he of course tries to enter the wrong side, and the girl is still in that seat, buckled in.  He opens the door and shouts “WHAT THE FUCK MAN???” and slams the door shut.  Oh, hell no.

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So he comes around to the rear driver’s side and gets in.  “This never happened to me before,” he says angrily.  And I’m like, dude?  Get real.  You’re probably paying $2.00 for this ride and I’m making far less than that.  You ordered a Pool, get over it.  Sometimes you get lucky and have it to yourself, but the price is lower because sometimes you do have to share it.

The car is now completely silent as the two, in classic UberPOOL style, completely try to ignore each other.  That’s when the guy speaks up.

“Sooooo, um……. How have you been?”

O.

M.

G.

These two have a past.

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She responds in a sullen, depressed tone, “I’ve… I’ve been good.  How about you?”  You can almost hear the acoustic rom-com magical moment music playing as you read this, can’t you?  I’m thinking something from Sheryl Crow.

They start to talk a little, and they’re only together in the car for a few minutes.  Long enough for him to invite her to a party that weekend, which she tentatively agrees to.

I have to drop off the guy first, so we get to his address and he tells her it was good seeing her, and that he’s looking forward to this weekend, and she says the same.  He exits, and she rolls up her window and just about explodes, almost crying.

“That guy is such a fucking asshole!”  I agree, lady.  But what is YOUR reasoning?

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“That was my ex boyfriend.  He dumped me after he hooked up with my best friend.  Then to get out of it, he told everyone in my sorority that we broke up because I was pregnant to his best friend.  He’s such a lying dickhead!  He fucking ruined my life!”

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RIDESHARE TIP #21418:  If you’re looking to dodge an ex, don’t use UberPOOL a block away from him in your teeny tiny suburb.

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UberPoor

One morning I drove an Uberpool trip from Venice to Beverly Hills.   Let me start with a few judgmental statements:

  1. I have never had a positive interaction with a customer going to or from Beverly Hills.
  2. UberPOOL customers largely are absolute garbage.

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I may be biased because of how Uber financially rapes their drivers with pool trips (speaking to Los Angeles, specifically.  I don’t know the rates for all cities).  In LA, if you take a Pool trip, you get a  completely made up “upfront price” that in no way reflects what the driver is making.  He or she is paid $0.57 a mile and $0.08 a minute from the start to the end of your trip, no matter how many people are in the car.  They recently upgraded that, so that for each additional pickup during a pool trip, the driver gets $0.95.  95 whole cents, you guys.  Have you ever noticed that if you do a pool, your driver is kind of angry as fuck?

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Annnnnywayyyyy, so I pick up the Beverly Hills d-bag and I’m praying that we get another customer joining the trip before I hop on the freeway, because after that it becomes increasingly more annoying.  I have to stay in the slow lane during pool trips, because Uber can add another passenger at any time and I often have to exit at the drop of a hat.

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I sat waiting for a solid 3 minutes at a light to turn onto the 405, and my customer, Johnny Confidence, is huffing and puffing in the back seat.  I’m praying that someone will join before I get on that freeway.  The light turns green, I make the irreversible turn, and as soon as I’m almost fully merged onto the 405, I get my next passenger joining the pool.  Her location?  At that intersection where I just sat for 3 or 4 minutes.  So this will now take another 10 minutes to get to the next exit to go back (it’s rush hour in the morning, mind you.)

I’m at the next off ramp trying to turn right but I’ve got a red light.  Good news is that there is virtually nobody on the road.  I turn right and immediately hear a siren and see the red and blue lights in my rear view.  A motorcycle cop is waving me to pull over.

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Did I have a tail light out?  Did I speed at some point?  Does he just hate gay people?  I’ve never been pulled over before so I  have literally no idea what I’m in for, and I am about to throw up in the car.

I pull over in traffic and he waves me on to go into a parking lot.  I oblige, and he keeps waving me to go further and further forward.  I’m starting to think he’s going to gay bash me once he gets me into a remote area.  He motions for me to stop the car and he takes his grand old time making his way over, and thats’ when I see the sign “NO TURN ON RED, 6AM-9AM.”  It was 8:58.

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I’m sweating bullets, I know these guys don’t like minorities.  But the news has shown that the shootings tend to happen to brown and black people.  Was I safe?  Police always made me nervous anyway.

He asks me if I know why he pulled me over, and I say, “Well, yeah.  I know now that I see that sign.”  He asked if I was around here and I wanted to say something proverbial and thought-provoking and sarcastic like “The road is my home” but I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate my sense of humor (I’m an acquired taste).

So I told him I’ve never been pulled over and I don’t know which is a registration and which is an insurance document.  I hand him the loan details of my car and the receipt for my last oil change, because I’m really that stupid under pressure.

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He appreciates that I’mt trying to do the right thing, and ultimately after several minutes of deliberation, lets me go with his “final” verbal warning of the day.  THANK GOD.  I drive away with the biggest sigh of relief and maybe just a drop or two of pee in my pants, and I remember I have a customer in the car.

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“So sorry about that, we’re on our way now.”  I look at the Uber app and see THAT GIRL HAS STILL NOT CANCELLED FROM THAT OLD INTERSECTION.  I go to pick her up, and it’s now been nearly 20 minutes.  She gets in, a small Asian college student, and is upset, but not overly upset.

“You took so long!” she says to me.

“Yeah, I’m sorry.  It sent me the request as soon as I pulled away from you onto the freeway.”

“Yeah but you stop for really long time.”

“About that…”

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The best part of her trip is that she was literally only going a few blocks away.  She was in the car for less than two minutes.

Rideshare Tip #999: Use UberPOOL if you want to save 50 cents and get to your destination within three to four hours!