Here we are again, on the other side of Thanksgiving, and barrelling towards Christmas. What better gift for the holidays than sarcastic Uber Drivers telling their passengers what's what.
This another entry in our regular series of articles that dives into the 'Golden Thread' of UP.NET (from the fine folks in the Washington D.C. sub-forum)
For years, the clever drivers of the nations Capital have been dealing with adversity (people are hard) from problem PAX, and, afterwards, reporting their travails using a healthy mixture of calm observation, and razor wit. It is a style that takes a few years to learn, and even longer to master. Suffice it to say, no driver in this space is beyond stooping to the level of bad PAX, if those seeking a cheap ride from A to B cannot fulfill the basic tenets of the social contract. Those drunk on the nectar of entitlement shall be smited, with magnaminity.
But it's not only Washington, we begin with a driver from Australia, @Borisdog who has coined the wonderful phrase, "Eye-Contact Shuffle."
Thanks for your ping at 4:30am, my first job of the day. It looked a good trip too, 16mins and me only 4 from you.
I get to your pin, but no Jeremy!
At this point the timer had started and I see 3 guys about 100 yards away on a different street. No-one else around so its just gotta be you doesn't it Jeremy. So I drive up, and by some miracle the timer keeps going. I get to you, you look at me and point at your cigarette and mouth to me that you're just going to finish it. Sure Jeremy, no prob, as the timer hits the magical UBER 3 minute mark.
See ya Jeremy! You didn't think my time was important and you didn't think sending me to the right spot was either. I didn't think I wanted your stinking cigarette odour in my car for the first trip of a long day. I only regret I couldn't 1 star you for thinking so little of my time. But look on the bright side - you've got time for another cigarette now.
I love eye contact shuffles! And the look on your face, Jeremy. Well, it got me through the day.
The next is a lesson from @SOLA-RAH to would-be downtown PAX: If traffic isn't moving in front of you, walk away to somewhere it is moving before requesting your ride. Requesting a ride in the middle of stopped traffic is only going to make the jam worse. To wit.
You called to tell me that you're at Grand Central, and traffic isn't moving on 18th Street?
Oh, you'll wait?
OK, hang tight, be right there.
I parked at Starbucks on Columbia & 18th, and walked a block towards you to trigger the timer.
I saw you on the sidewalk, Jessica, but meanwhile traffic jam on the street hasn't moved an inch
"WTF?" you say to your friend. "It says he's here?"
I slide into Pizza Mart for a jumbo slice, and with a minute left on the countdown timer, then you call
"It says you're here?!? WTF are you? I don't see you? What does your car look like?" You exclaim, "OMG, he just cancelled!!!"
Thanks for the free slice, Jessica!
Little did you know that Jason, was standing five feet from you.
I call out his name, show him my phone, explain we have to walk a block to the car because traffic is effed, and I gotta scarf down this pizza anyways.
I say "Bye, Jessica!" as I walked by you. But, sadly, it didn't click and she had no clue who I was.
Yours in pie,
The next is the usually snappy bit of brevity from one of the great shuffle-champions of U-Pee-dot-Net, @Another Uber Driver :
I thought that I had seen it all, especially with "Sexy" supra. I guess that I had not. NO; not just NO, not just one thousand times NO, not just HELL NO, but ONE THOUSAND TIMES HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Never to be seeing you,
Another Uber Driver
But we will end on a high note, literally. You can "believe it or not!" But what a lovely one it is indeed, from @kbrown in Arlington, VA. (You can see, even if the LOVE-LETTERS state of mind, we're not all so mean!)
I got the strangest call.... driving down the GW Parkway, I got a ping to pick up. What the heck... I'll bite. I've never been pinged to pick up at Long Bridge Park in the early afternoon on a fall day. I'd only been there when riding my bike and figured it would end up being a decent shuffle, so off I went!
Stephen, I arrived at the park and noted that there was no one in that parking lot. I was intrigued. I drove through the park, noting the cars and seeing waaaaaaay off in the distance, the Pentagon South parking lot. NO WAY was I going to drive over there and have the government looking in my car- it's not worth the cancel. I decided to call once just to check in, then roll.
Stephen, I heard your voice... desperate, uncertain... a bit lost. You seem nice, so ok... I'll bite. I decided to drive around a little more and see if I could find you. I've got nothing but time anyway. There's no surge and I'm in a pretty good mood. As I'm driving, I'm seeing zip, zilch, nada. I sighed. I stopped my car and called again. This time, you pleaded with me. Apparently, the other ubers have left, and you've got an important appointment you can't miss. I tell you I can't find you, and I tell you I'm going to stop and park my car, put the blinkers on and honk a few times. "Follow the song of my honking," I instructed you, as I began to honk. I know this is wrong. I know the other drivers would ream my a$$ for sticking around, but it's been 15 minutes, you sound like a nice guy, and heck.... I'm bored and you sound like a nice guy. So I honk and honk. And several minutes later, you breathlessly show up at my car, running with all kinds of equipment and suitcases, looking really flustered, but relieved. Older guy- probably in his mid- to late 60s. I was momentarily annoyed, but heck.... I'll bite. I cracked my window and ask him to verify his name. Yeah, I know you're Stephen, and there's no one else in this park, and I've been waiting 15 minutes, but I'm not about to get my butt raped by some stranger who wasn't Stephen and may have stabbed you in the back and then took your stuff and ran to my car to get a free ride to god-knows-where. I know I was being a jerk, but you were so good-natured, I said to myself "awwww heck." I'll take him.
Stephen, I appreciate you apologized for being so late. Stephen explains that he flew in and rented a car and was driving to your appointment, but you got turned around, and then your car broke down, so you ended up in the Long Bridge Park. You tried to call for a tow, but they couldn't figure out how to get to you unless you were at the Pentagon parking lot. So you found a jogger who helped you push the car to the Pentagon South parking and walk all the way back to Long Bridge Park and get an uber, but none of the ubers could find him. Stephen tells me he'd almost given up when I pulled into the lot and hadn't left. Stephen explained he didn't know his way around and got lost. Well, ok. Glad I could be of help. I start the trip. We're going to downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.
Stephen, you were a really really nice guy. You asked the usual dumb questions- "Do you like driving for Uber?" I was honest and told you, hell no. Uber sucks. Stephen laughed. I don't know. This was the day I decided to answer honestly for a change. I don't know why, but you seemed like a really nice guy. But I'm not dumb. Sometimes the nicest people turn into raging a-holes once the ride ends. I still have my guard up.
Stephen, I asked you what you did. You said you were a music composer. OK. I can roll with that. We chat the entire way up about music, and somehow, the conversation turns and we start talking about old television shows. Well, I love old TV shows. We compare our knowledge about shows, and you start quizzing me about my favorite shows. I don't know why, but I told you the best shows were the ones with the best theme songs. So you ask me, what shows did you like with good theme songs. I sing to you "The Greatest American Hero"- the ENTIRE theme song for that show. You're quiet for a moment, and then you tell me that you're a composer for television shows. Wow.... television shows. I asked you, what's the most famous television show you've written a theme song for?" And goddamn it if you don't tell me with a laugh- "THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO." What???!!!! I just sang Stephen's song to Stephen.
Stephen, so I'm fascinated at this point. I ask you about the people you met (we're in rush hour traffic, so we've got time), and you tell me about all the old school people you've met, and I'm fascinated. You mention names like Sherwood Schwartz and Sidney Shelton. I'm totally buggin' at this point... The doods from Gilligan's Island, Knight Rider, The Brady Bunch.... all those old TV shows in reruns I loved to watch when I was growing up. You reveal to me you're in town because you're going to the music studios in Silver Spring to work on a television jingle, and that's why you had all that equipment. I'm fascinated. And suddenly, this ride really seems like it was worth picking up.
Stephen, I'm glad when we arrived that you thank me for the trip once again. You tell me how enjoyable it was, and how I saved your appointment, especially because you're not from here. When you get out of the car, you handed me a $10 bill. I'm thinking... ookkkaaayyyy..... I deserved more, but heck.... you were entertaining and you sang for your supper. I somehow didn't believe you, with your funny accent, really wrote the theme song for the show I happened to sing, but heck.... I had a good time driving you up to Silver Spring. I had a crappy day up until that point, so OK. Cool.
As I'm driving back, I get a moment to check my totals for the day, and I see I have more money than I thought. When I look through the Uber calculations, I see someone has tipped me $20 in the app. Stephen, I see you've tipped me an ADDITIONAL twenty bucks and left a nice little note about being the best driver ever for not leaving your ass behind when everyone else had.
Stephen, I still don't believe you, so when I get home, I check Wikipedia. There in Wikipedia, is a reference to THE Stephen Geyer, who wrote television theme songs for these old television shows. Stephen, you old dog! I had as big of a celebrity as I've ever had in my car when you climbed in and I took you to your recording session.
Adios, amigo.... it was a good conversation and I enjoyed myself. And I got an extra 30 bucks out of that too, "believe it or not!" Thanks, dood!