Intuitive Ubering

intuitionI’ve never been one to swear by The Secret. I can’t even remember if I ever finished the whole book. But there’s something to be said about what I’ve experienced with the laws of attraction as an Uber driver. I sometimes like to think of it as a bit of happenstance, others might call it Godwinks. But as certain situations have unfolded in ways that can be attributed to coincidence, I’ve started looking at it as good old fashion intuition. What am I talking about? you ask. I’m talking about those moments when I’ve decided that I have had enough, and I absolutely want to go home but I’ll take ONE MORE RIDE… and that ride ends up taking me directly to my neighborhood! You can’t image the “wow!” feeling when I pick up a passenger, swipe their ride to begin, look at their destination (which is only revealed after their ride has started), and Voilà! they’re being dropped off within a block or two of my home.


The first time it happened, I was driving in a neighborhood somewhere in Prospect Lefferts Garden where I’d dropped off a passenger. Generally, when I’ve driven so deep into Brooklyn, it could take anywhere from 15 minutes to a half hour before I get a next passenger, and since it was later in the evening I figured I’d just go home. But, as most people who hustle would, I decided that I’d leave my driver’s app on just in case one more person needed to go somewhere. “I think I have one last ride left in me tonight.” Well, as it happened, I finally got a request to pick up a young lady on New York Avenue. I extended a greeting when she got in and swiped to start her ride, ready to put off my own homeward-bound destination by at least forty-five minutes. I’d have to drive her to wherever she was going, then turn around and come back to my neighborhood. Only, when I looked at her destination, I calculated that her destination WAS my neighborhood! the wiz taxi “Are you going to the corner of Halsey and Lewis???” Not only is this an intersection near many of Bed Stuy’s most popular eateries and bars, but is only a few blocks away from the apartment that I call home. She confirmed that this was her destination and I thought “Score! I got a fare out of Prospect Lefferts Garden! And BONUS! I’m getting paid to drive home!”


So, I already hear you: it was a fluke, dumb luck, fortuitous happenstance. And I would be inclined to agree. Only, it has continued to happen. There was the recent Sunday afternoon when I was ready to leave the Midtown traffic behind and spend the rest of the day outside of my vehicle, when I got a request to pick up two girls at the Pier 86 on the West Side Highway. They could have been going anywhere between New Jersey and Long Island, but they were heading to Fort Greene, a couple of neighborhoods west of Bed Stuy. I was home in twelve minutes. There was also the time I picked up a young lady in Williamsburg just as I realized that I sort of had to go to the bathroom. I was amazed that her destination was one block over and two streets down from my place when I had just thought of going home. We had a nice laugh about how she was paying me to drive myself home and take a break after dropping her off. It turns out she was also a New School graduate, and we talked about the work she did at Parsons during the ride. Since it wasn’t an emergency bathroom break, I decided that I would take the following Uber request that came in immediately as I dropped her off. And, Boom! Wouldn’t you know it, THAT passenger’s pickup location was on the same street as my house, one block over. This particular follow-up coincidence was completely ridiculous because here I was just steps from my stoop, which I wanted to be walking up to go into my apartment, but I was stuck picking up a passenger going to God knows where. Thankfully her location was only ten minutes away, and I immediately turned off my driver’s app once she got out and drove back to my place. I learned right then that IF the thought occurs to go home, but the intuition to take just one more passenger occurs, and it’s revealed that the person absolutely will be dropped off within a three block radius of my house, then DON’T ACCEPT ANOTHER REQUEST!


My favorite occurrence of Uber intuition was when I was driving in the city and picked up a woman from ABC Studios on 66th Street near Central Park West. Again, it was late — around 10pm, I’d been driving a few hours that evening and had decided that wherever this person was going, THIS was going to be my last ride of the night before heading back. I arrived outside of the studio and waited for the passenger to come out. Once she got in, I swiped her ride to begin and looked at the address preparing for it to be someplace else in Manhattan, hoping it wasn’t Jersey. “Where are you going????” I asked while looking at the address. She answered the name of the street I live on between the exact two avenues where my apartment is located. She was my neighbor by just six or seven addresses. I literally pass her house every day. Didn’t know her, though, but was super amped that she was going to be paying me to “take us home” (at surge pricing, no less!). The entire ride across the bridge I kept thinking, “There’s gotta be something to this! At the precise moments when I’m ready to go home, I keep getting passengers who are going to my block.”


Driver-Destination1Later I would read that Uber Technologies had actually been working on a feature in the app where drivers could set their destination when they wanted to be matched only with riders traveling in a similar direction. Though it was announced in November that Uber would be testing out this feature in Northern California, I’ve yet to hear that it has actually been added to the driver’s app as an update. So, even in knowing that this feature could have added some correlation to my receiving passengers who were heading in the direction of my house, it still could never explain how these trips truly unfolded for me in New York City. It likely has more to do with the high demand for Uber in Bedford Stuyvesant. In October 2015 Politico reported that Bed Stuy is one of a handful of “highly gentrified” NYC neighborhoods where a high concentration of pickups occur. I can absolutely attest to that, as I’ve seen more surge pricing in the Stuy than many other Brooklyn locales. I’m still going to choose to believe that intuition and being really settled on what I want (in this case, to go home!) played the biggest part in getting those fares heading to my front door!


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