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 Youcame 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)!
#2 The Pain of UberPool
Nothing gives me momentary anxiety as a driver like receiving a request for UberPool. I know that it’s supposed to be the best. thing. ever! for both passengers and drivers alike when ALL works out. But, in my driving experience, more often that not, UberPool is like the worst! Okay… maybe saying the worst is putting a thousand on it, but it does have its moments of vexation and quandary attached to it. I’ll just say that while I’ll tend to accept all UberPool passengers, my preference on any given day is X to Pool for a handful of reasons.
First off, when someone requests your car via UberPool, they automatically get to pay a lower rate for that ride. They are basically getting the discount for agreeing to ride with a total stranger IF someone happens to be going their way during their trip. In theory, that should be a win-win. But in actuality it’s only a win for the passenger and Uber Corporate if a second rider never gets in, which is half the time (by my non-quantitative estimation). IF a second rider never gets in, then a driver is shortchanged by taking someone to their destination for a fraction of the earnings. C’est la vie?? More like, Que, sera sera! I, personally, am of the position that a driver deserves the full fair, despite a shared ride, but I get it.
So, one would assume that a second passenger requesting to join in the Uberliciousness of riding with me would be outrageously entertaining, right!? Well, on occasion I’ve facilitated some delightful Uber happenings in the way of available mobile phone chargers and eclectic music choices. But there have been other times when I’ve wanted to pull my hair out because, inevitably, one of the Pool passengers gambled on having the ride to themselves but is actually in more of a rush than what sharing a ride calls for. Once, a woman on her way to LaGuardia Airport for a flight claimed that she didn’t even know she was requesting UberPool. It just so happens that when I accepted her ride minutes before the second request came through, both passengers were on the exact same block in Midtown Manhattan between 5th and 6th Avenues. This made it super confusing when picking them up because one of them expected UberX and insisted that she hadn’t chosen Pool. It was in my system as Pool, though, so I explained, “Yeah… looks like you did, in fact, request UberPool!” Long story short, she got in but had to wait for me to drop the other passenger off on the Upper East Side before we made it through the Midtown Tunnel and to LGA’s curbside. To this day, I bet she still hasn’t figured out how she inadvertently chose Pool over X. I think it’s because, whereas the passenger app used to default to single-ride option, at some point it started defaulting to the shared-ride setting. I told her to pay closer attention moving forward so that she doesn’t have undue stress on her next airport ride.
The other thing that sometimes-sucks about UberPool, but is also sometimes-cool, is that you have two to three strangers in your car all at once. In the incident where the woman inadvertently chose Pool on her way to the airport, it worked out because both women were world travelers who worked in Marketing & Advertising. While in traffic, they bonded over shared experiences of excruciatingly long work hours and traveling to spectacularly exotic places for work yet often being stuck in the hotel conference room. With them, I actually chimed in on their convo, being well-traveled, myself, with some experience in Marketing & Advertising. So, what started out as a stressful ride ended up being completely pleasant. Then there was October 30th, when I picked up a couple of African American transgender women coming from the hair salon getting ready to turnUP! on the eve of All Hallow’s Eve! The two of them got in, one on speaker phone discussing costume attire for an epic party night out in the city. It was all fine by me; I mean, when better to do your planning than in the back of an Uber! I didn’t realize that they had done UberPool, though, until the next request came through. “This will be interesting,” I thought, because I didn’t know who I was going to be picking up next, or their level of acceptance of the trans-community. There are a lot of prejudice bigots around and you never know when someone is going to say something or do something volatile. I wasn’t concerned, per se, just hyper aware. I told my passengers that we’d be stopping to pick up someone else, which was fine, even to be expected. When I stopped to pick up an older Black woman, she decided to get into the front seat leaving the two women in the back with space to be comfortable. The phone speaker conversation and planning appropriately came to a halt, as well, when the other passenger got in. I noticed that no one was really talking to anyone else, so instead of trying to force a conversation, I turned on Janet Jackson’s new Unbreakable album, which completely mellowed out the vibe in the car. I even heard someone in the back singing some of Janet’s lyrics on the way to their destination!
At the end of the day, I guess UberPool isn’t so bad. It only really gets on my nerves when a person requests Pool to go around the corner. Like, really?? You’re trying to pay a fraction on an $8 fair?? WHY!? UberPool from Brooklyn to Harlem, or JFK to Jersey, I get it… UberPool from 14th Street to 19th Street??? Stop it!