The 90s were a great decade for high school cult classic films. I was actually in college by the time 10 Things I Hate About You came out, nevertheless, it immediately ranked up there with Clueless, Can’t Hardly Wait and Never Been Kissed as one of my top faves! In this modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Kat Stratford (played by Julia Stiles) writes a sonnet poem for Patrick Verona (played by the late Heath Ledger) listing all of the things she loves to hate about their bittersweet puppy love romance that unfolds when he shows up at Padua High. Though I haven’t watched the movie in ages, the title got me thinking about all of the things I love to hate about driving Uber! It’s incredibly easy to rattle off the things I dig about being Uberlicious (the autonomy, getting paid once a week, freedom to roam around the five boroughs and meet interesting people), but the last three months have given me the type of insight and firsthand knowledge that CERTAINLY makes a girl frustrated at times. And since I’m a writer first!, I said, to hell with it, let’s make a list!!
So, the next few Uberlicious posts will be a part of series I’ll call:
10 Things I Hate About U(ber)!
#1 Glitchy Navigation!
My number one frustration with driving Uber is how often the navigation system seems to throw a monkey wrench into an otherwise smooth point-A-to-point-B driving experience. What do I mean? Well, I’m not the most tech savvy person, but I noticed early on how there are certain spots in Manhattan and Brooklyn where the navigation goes completely HAYWIRE while I’m en route to a particular destination. Let me break it down! Whether it’s in lower Manhattan near Freedom Tower, Park Avenue immediately north of Grand Central Station, the Eastside/60s in proximity to the 59th Street Bridge, or in the case of Brooklyn, Greenpoint and Park Slope, what happens is that the satellite navigation system (sat nav) will go completely bonkers, jumping around to other random locations rendering itself useless.
I’ll explain the Uber navigation interface: it’s basically set up so that once a driver accepts a passenger they have the option to navigate the best route in picking up said client. Once you hit “Navigation” the driver app will change over to your preferred sat nav system (I use Google Maps most often, but also have Waze as an option). When the stars align and there is no extraterrestrial interference, the sat nav will lead you to the person’s exact location. Otherwise, here’s what happens when things don’t go smoothly:
You either have a passenger in the car, or are en route to pick someone up. Everything is fine, and you know when to jump in the right hand lane to make a quick right in two blocks, and in six more lights, you’ll need to make a left. But there are still a few more directions that you don’t have time to glance at. It’s all good, though, because the NAVIGATION will let you know in due time where to go. Only, you hit one of those weird dead spots and all of sudden navi goes erratic. The directions become scrambled because the above satellites are now misreading where you are on the grid. It pretty much feels like you’re running in circles and the satellites cannot catch you! Somehow they think you’re located three blocks east of where you’re actually driving, and is giving you directions to your destination from THAT specific point. You start sweating, trying to remember what comes after that left in a half a mile, because now you can’t rely on the navi system. What I’ve learned is that by turning at the first sign of sat nav disruption, I will likely end up in a location where my navigation will reconnect with the satellites in the sky and recalculate the route to get back on track. I’ll make sure to to let my passengers know that the navigation is faulty and thrown off as well, so that they don’t think I’m joyriding out of the way of their destination (on their dime).
Here’s another scenario…
An Uber rider requests your car. You accept the ride, look at the address and start the navigation. Seven minutes later, you pull up to where the sat nav directed you, and either text or call your passenger to come out, only to realize that you are, in fact, NOT where they are located. For some reason, the satellites’ wires get crossed and tell a driver that a passenger is at one location when they are often around the corner or, more than you’d think, even on the next street. It’s particularly frustrating because the passenger thinks you are incompetent in driving to their pinned location, and you have to explain, ad nauseam, that it’s moreso an error in the navigational system. There is that one frequent Uber user who knows when she books a ride to call immediately and say “Hey, I know the pin says that I’m at Fourth and Union, but I’m actually at 3rd and Degraw in front of the bike shop.” I really appreciate that passenger over the one in Times Square who will cancel the ride just as I am pulling up because his navigation indicates that I’ve passed him by and am heading in another direction. Bless his heart; he doesn’t know.
And my personal favorite is when you have the correct address, but the navigation brings you to the rear of the building where the dumpsters and emergency exits are, as opposed to the main entrance. This is my favorite because it’s easy to drive around to the front of the establishment instead of the circles you’ll drive in when sat nav is feeling particularly shady.
Long story short, all of these navigational issues are enough to cause your blood pressure to rise when on the road!
But, for any of you drivers who can relate, it does help to commit to memory certain routes, cross streets, and directions of traffic flow for moments when you just can’t rely on the navigation. And to you passengers, I say, make sure you exercise patience when awaiting your driver, especially if they are flustered from trying to find you!