After I retired, I decided (actually my wife insisted) to try and do something that would get me out of the house. So I started driving for Lyft and Uber. It is obvious that their driver criteria are not too selective as I had 2 artificial knees one of which had been replaced 4 weeks prior. Driving when I lived in NJ had become the reason Ieft that state, but here in AZ, The traffic isn’t too awful, and I didn’t drive during rush hours very often. The philosophy behind Lyft and Uber are considerably different and the passengers you get on each platform most of the time reflect that. Lyft is a friendly platform that encourages its riders to sit in the front with the driver and converse. Uber wants you to be a chauffeur which tends to make the passengers want to sit in the back and “order you around”. I drove mostly with Lyft because the main reason I was driving was to meet people and converse! Here are a few of the experiences I had while driving.
One of my first Lyft passengers was a woman that had been shopping. I helped her load the groceries in the trunk and she sat in the front seat. As I pulled out from the store, she leaned over and started rubbing my left knee and said, “I just want you to know that I just got out after spending 10 years in prison.” My reaction was not as she expected. I told her, “I just want you to know that 4 weeks ago that knee was replaced and what you are doing hurts.” I then steered the conversation to another topic. When the ride was over, I helped her unload the groceries and she gave me a five star rating and $2.00 tip on a ride that was less than a mile long.
Apartment complexes can be a nightmare for some drivers. Lyft used to make it easy by posting a stick figure representation of the phone location of the passenger. Uber does not do this. I was sent to pick up a passenger at an apartment complex with about 20 buildings. Apartment complexes on the map are designated by their sales office location. but as I pulled up there, I saw there was a stick figure about a quarter mile down the road in the complex. so I drove there instead. The passenger was somewhat belligerent and complained that she had sent me a text message that said not to go to the front of the compound. I calmly told her that when I drive I do not read text messages, but I did notice her location and drove to meet her as soon as I did. She complained that I was the only driver she had ever been with that didn’t read text messages while driving. I told her that I had an excellent driving record and choose to not jeopardize it by trying to read texts while driving. While driving to her destination, a text alert came in on my phone, which she saw me ignore. When she asked me about it, I said that getting her safely to her destination was my only priority at this time and when we arrived I would check the message. This got me another five star rating and earned me a $5.00 tip on a 4 mile ride. The message was from Lyft saying I had another passenger to pick up about a quarter mile away from the drop off point.
Uber passengers convinced me to never drive Uber during the day. Twice I got stuck taking passengers with loads of smelly apparel to the laundromat! One load was so large that it filled my trunk and the entire back seat. It smelled so bad, I had to keep the windows open with the air temperature 100 degrees. The also didn’t tip!
I had to pick up another Uber passenger that was at a large company with multiple entrances. When I first arrived, I saw a man on his phone near the entrance I came in. but as I approached him, He looked at the car and then turned away. A few seconds later I received a call from the passenger saying he was near the flag pole. When I picked him up, he asked which app I liked better. I told him Lyft as with Lyft I would have seen his phone’s location and been able to go immediately to his location. I also gave him a coupon for 4 $5.00 off rides on Lyft.
There are 2 places you do not want to drive near if you value your rating, Universities and High Schools (during the school year). Universities are on this list as many of the facilities students use encourage them to rate your drivers a single star in order to get a free ride. High Schools are on it because the terms of service for both Lyft and Uber ban drivers from transporting underage passengers. Since most teens know how to use their phones and their parents credit cards, they will often attempt to get rides. Large numbers of drivers do give them rides which add to to the problem. The problem drivers face with underage passengers is that there is NO insurance coverage if you violate the terms of service and have an accident.
I no longer drive but if things change for the better, I may do so again. I miss the company.