One of my Uber Chronicles stories.
Next up, I’m wandering through a mess of a mall parking lot trying to find my rider. My GPS is telling me to turn right, now left, then left again, oops, rerouting, now right. Finally, I text the guy. Can you give me a landmark, please? He’s near Nordstrom and the Cheesecake Factory. I find him with ease after that. He gets in.
He’s a big guy. Kinda tall. Definitely round. 28. White. Nice, soft-spoken. Might be Latino; there’s just a hint of an accent in his voice. He’s a cook at one of the cafés in the mall. He likes to cook. He likes his job. What do you like about it, in particular? He thinks it’s important to make food look nice so that people will want to eat it.
He didn’t go to college. He has a girlfriend. He likes her a lot. Their anniversary is coming up and her birthday is coming up. He’s going to take her out to a nice restaurant. He has a car but doesn’t have car insurance, and he has to get that taken care of soon, he says.
This is the second time ever he has used Uber, though the first time he was with a group, so this ride is the first time he is using his own account. He’s a bit nervous. I don’t know the area well. I’m a bit nervous.
To get to his home, there is a major highway with a separated express lane; I get in it, thinking it’ll be faster. Unfortunately, I discover too late for correction that I couldn’t turn on to his exit from the express lane. Erg. I have to drive beyond his exit and get to his home via another route. Le sigh.
He’s concerned about the extra cost. I ask him how far I went out of the way with the missed exit and ask him to tell me when we’re about that same distance from his house so that I can end the trip early. I have no interest in charging him extra for my mistake.
He’s concerned about kids these days. Why? They don’t have manners. I chuckle to myself. He’s all of 28 and is talking about “kids these days.”
Key experience: I know cars are expensive to own, drive and keep on the road. Being upfront and personal with people who can’t afford to have their car on the road yet have to take Uber rides really brings home to me the cost of transportation for the lower end of the working class in America.