5.08.2015

Driving Uber - Day 1

I was accepted as an Uber rideshare partner this week, and today I gave my first Uber ride over lunch. It was fantastic.

I was leaving work to go pick up my bike from the shop, so I turned on the Uber app on my phone and made myself available for rides. Almost immediately, the Uber app jingled to let me know someone nearby needed a ride. I accepted, and began driving toward the pickup location as indicated by the Uber app on my phone. The app is synchronized with the phone’s GPS, so it gave me step by step directions.

My passenger was a vision impaired man with a guide dog, and his pick up location was quite close to where I work in Middleton. He was standing by the opposite side of the road with his dog, waiting, when I arrived.

I rolled down my driver’s side window and asked, “Did you call Uber?”

“Yes, I did,” he said. “That was fast.”

“I’ll turn around so you don’t have to cross the road,” I told him. I turned around in the nearby parking lot of the Claddagh Irish Pub and pulled up at the curb next to him.

“I can get out and assist you,” I offered.

“No need,” the man said. “Are you OK with a guide dog?”

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I have a dog of my own.” In fact, by law I could not refuse a guide animal in my car, but I wouldn’t even if I could.

He was going downtown to meet a friend for lunch and we had a nice conversation as I drove him. He was a very friendly guy. He liked good music and we talked a bit about Nashville and country music. He works in the hearing/vision impaired industry, which makes sense. His dog was a golden retriever. It took me about 25 minutes to drive him downtown and I made $16 via Uber, after they extracted their cut of the fare. If I had had time to pick up another fare downtown, I could have possibly cleared $25 for an hour’s work.

I think Uber will be a fairly lucrative and fun supplement to my side business income. When I am not playing gigs with the band(s), I can offer Uber rides and probably make a lot more money than I do at music (or even my day job…it’s about the same per hour…). Because Uber is app based and all monetary transactions are online, the risks are minimal. No money changes hands and there is no tipping. Everyone involved is registered with Uber and both drivers and passengers are rated on a five point scale, so it behooves everyone to be cool and cooperative. My passenger at lunch gave me full marks, the full five stars, so I am off to a good start. I am sure there will be some dickheads occasionally, but you’d really be biting the hand that feeds (or killing the goose that laid the golden eggs) if you treated Uber drivers poorly. But there is no way to get stiffed on a rideshare fare, because the passengers have to be enrolled in Uber with a legitimate form of electronic payment. So I am getting paid whether the person is difficult or not.

I am officially now a private contractor in the transportation industry. So far it’s a blast. Kind of addictive actually. I want to do it again ASAP. When I leave work today, I will probably turn on the app. Who knows, maybe a co-worker needs an Uber home and I will be right there to get them. Rush hour has got to be a high Uber time of day, right?

This weekend is also graduation at the UW Madison, so there will likely be a lot of families trying to get around town for various things. Since I have no gigs or pressing responsibilities, I will make myself available to give rides and begin filling the business coffer.

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