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, which unfolds when he shows up at Padua High. Though I haven’t watched the movie in ages, the title got me to thinking about all of the things I love to hate about driving Uber! It’s incredibly easy to tell people about all the things I totally love (the autonomy, getting paid once a week, freedom to roam around the five boroughs and meet interesting people), but the last few months have given me the type of insight and firsthand knowledge that CERTAINLY makes a girl frustrated at times. So, the next few Uberlicious posts will be a part of series I’ll call:
10 Things I Hate About U(ber)!
#7 – Backseat Waze Drivers.
It’s taken me a while to write this one because I wanted to be sure of what I REALLY wanted to say. So, here it is: Backseat driving Uber passengers with this condescending preference for WAZE navigation TRULY get on my last good nerve! The nerve that’s actually needed to drive through these New York City streets! And I do have nerves of steel.
It’s not Waze that I hate. And it’s not the Uber passengers who simply like Waze because it can do things that the G-Maps interface don’t incorporate. It’s that one passenger who gets in with this air of authority that Waze absolutely is the supreme sat/nav. That it’s better than Google Maps. That you, driver, are some incompetent muppet who doesn’t have the privilege of driving around Manhattan with Waze. When in reality you COULD choose to use Waze but it’s just not your preference. Therefore they insist on directing each and every lane switch, turn, and exit towards their destination thinking that they are helping or doing me (or any other driver) a service. I beg you to understand, dear Waze-loving Uber passenger, that this is actually a disservice.
Let me explain. Usually a passenger gets in, often high strung and running late, often talking on their phone or otherwise distracted by some other app they’re on. They usually get in during rush hour, and usually in the most congested parts of Manhattan, and their first question is: Are you on Waze???? I always treat this like a rhetorical question, and start their Uber trip with my Maps. Or I might downplay the question like, “Nope, but my navigation will definitely get us there!” Ultimately, the “But WAZE is so much better” statements of “fact” start with an insistence that they will “help” me by dictating which directions Waze is recommending. Often times, they get distracted in the middle of their dictating their preferred route and I end up using Maps anyway. I used to oblige and listen, but when I realized most of the time that what they were saying is the same thing that my Google Maps was saying, I started finding the backseat Wazers obnoxious. Which is the opposite of helpful. MAYBE Waze will say turn down 13th Street instead of 17th Street to save three minutes. I get it. But, I also know that on 13th Street, a fire truck might stop traffic in both directions so that it can pull into the firehouse during those same three minutes that were supposed to be saved. Maybe Waze will say take Park uptown over Madison to save eight minutes. But I’m cognizant that anywhere between the 40s and the 60s on the east side of Manhattan, the navigation (whether Maps or Waze) tends to screw up rendering the directions inaccurate by about a mile anyway. On most occasions, when I look at the arrival time on my Google Maps but let the passenger direct me via Waze, I end up arriving at the same time I would have had they sat back and just enjoyed the ride. There was no real advantage. Therefore, I hate that they THINK there is. My less than five-star rating as an Uber driver is probably due to the quasi-debates I’ve gotten into with passengers over Google Maps vs. Waze and why I won’t use it!
So, I won’t be a complete Wazer-hater because I do know that Waze is more efficient at times with updating actual road blockages or letting you know when police and speed cameras are around. I’ll definitely give them that. With so many drivers using Waze, I guess more and more people are adding the updates in real time so that other drivers on the road will benefit. But, one of the main reasons Waze isn’t for me is because of the little emoticon-face characters that represent your car and other cars on the road. It looks too much like a video game to me, and I dislike paying attention to video games. There were also pop ups on the screen from time to time when I used Waze for a little while, which is another distraction when I’m driving. It also drains your battery. And it doesn’t prevent everyone from being pulled over by the cops, as one Uber passenger told me regarding why he stopped using Waze! I prefer Google Maps because the platform is more standard and accessible. The directions appear at the very top section of the map inside of a green area that resembles highway road signage. The font is a clean Arial bold in white. Along with directional arrows indicating which way to go next, the number of miles you’ll drive before the next direction are clearly labeled in white below the arrow. There are no extra colors beyond the pastel yellows and tans or popups or smiling police icons in the way. There is also a simple way to avoid tolls and highways in the route options, and also a quick way to change the destination address. So it works for me.
Now, I’m not saying that Google Maps is PERFECT, or even better than Waze , either. (By the way, Google purchased Waze back in 2013 for $1.1 billion.) There was at least one time I had come across the George Washington Bridge after leaving New Jersey and was trying to follow the directions to enter Manhattan into Harlem and drive over to the FDR Highway heading into Brooklyn. But, in a moment of utter confusion, the Google Maps navigation got screwed up and directed me BACK ONTO the GW Bridge, New Jersey bound. I was heated because that meant I’d have to drive all the way back into Jersey, only to exit in Fort Lee, circle back to the highway towards Manhattan and pay the toll a second time to enter New York. I almost threw my entire phone along with Google Maps into the Hudson River! But if Wazers are willing to be truthful with themselves, they know that Waze is not one hundred percent all the time either. Regardless, I just need these non-driving, Waze-gospel, backseat-directions-giving Uber passengers to relax a bit, put their phones down and let me do my Uberlicious job!