Soul-driving for Uber
I started driving for Uber right after I decided to walk away from an organizing contract, or should I say an utter catastrophic work for hire shituation, in mid-December of 2014. I did so because I needed the money. The wealthy country ass owner of the shituation was a simple someone and every one who worked there feared her. She had a ton of money and basically that’s it. I eventually spiritually read her and all of her contracted employees to themselves and because of that she withheld my last payment. I’d done everything but told her to go screw herself when I found out and because I knew that I’d had enough of her and what I started to deem as Houston’s finest. It seemed that a majority of the people here lied, stole, cheated and schemed their way to the top. Very few were original and I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t in Rome and these weren’t Romans. And so my quest began. I was soul-searching something horrible and wanted the Divine to answer whether I should remain in Houston or if I should pack up my babies and hit the road, onward to some other ego enriched, self-entitled town where people took advantage of others just because or was it time for me to settle into a place I could really call home. I figured I would find my answer in being of service to others and going back to my roots of wanting to understand sociology in respect to human psychology at very basic levels. I knew that if I could go back to my roots (SANKOFA) I could move forward in realigning myself with my life’s purpose. Yea, that’s why I did it. (It’s funny because as I typed this I thought about how I didn’t realize that when I signed up to Drive back in October of 2014, I just consciously thought it was a good way to make money). To identify. What better way to do that than with what makes me happy, writing. This, dear people, is my account of my experiences while driving for Uber.
Disclaimer: I decided to do this starting on January 1, 2015. I started driving for Uber 2 weeks prior and realized that I only remember spots of people. I’m going to do my best to conjure up what I remember and will blog about those experiences here and there but for now, let’s start with New Year’s Eve 2014. Here goes…
Last Night I got online at approximately 6:48 p.m. My first ride was a first-timer. He was in town visiting some friends for the holiday and had been asked to hang out. They told him to park his car and take a Uber over and so that is what he did. I dropped him off at a hidden gem in Rice Village and he explained to me what the other local gems were surrounding as he’d lived in Houston years prior and was familiar. He was a good old-fashioned nice guy and hence got 5 stars.
Got my second call from a cute couple in the Midtown area. Both of them smelled good (well they did!) and they were headed out on the town for the night. We talked about each idiot on the road ahead of us as they were referred to by the man in the party by other well pronounced terms you can surely imagine. They asked me as most people do, how long I had been driving for Uber. I told them a few weeks and I was doing so that night to make the $1,000 I’d read about being possible. The guy asked me if I had any wacky experiences and somehow that led to me telling him they while they all varied, they could possibly be deemed as wacky depending upon one’s definition of wacky. They got out at the rail and when the lady did she told me she hoped I’d make $2,000. For whatever magical reason there was, he was somehow not charged fare. He sent me a text telling me (I’d already caught it) and I responded by telling him I would let Uber know. They were 5 stars for smelling good and leaving good vibes.
The third call was a young girl, all dolled up and going to a private party. My first twinge was the fact that I waited for her to come downstairs for a whole 11 minutes. The second twinge was after the first 3 I called her ass and she still took another 8. When she eventually came down she got in the front seat with a plastic bag and an evening bag. She took selfies of herself the entire ride, said she was sending them to her boyfriend because he was far away. She apologized for doing it and I told her it was ok. I dropped her at her location and that was it. She got 4 stars. Really her ass should have gotten 3, I’m just saying.
The 4th was two friends. Girls. They were coming from a house party going to a club. We all saw the Pizza Delivery Guy walking up to the party they were leaving and all said something to the degree of “Look at him, I’m hungry!” out loud and it was awkwardly humorous. They told me to tell the next riders to bring me snacks from their party and that they would have done that had they known. I dropped them off, they wished me a Happy New Year and I told them to be safe. Yea, yet another good old-fashioned 5 stars for being pleasant and in the sharing mood.
The 5th ride was a single guy who was being picked up from home and was headed to a bar downtown. Said he had never been there but friends said it was pretty cool. He was cool, in fact so cool that when we passed a formal party, we poo-poo’ed the attendees because they were all dressed up and in the cold. We chuckled at how if it’s not comfortable it’s not worth it. He totally got 5 stars for being cute, laid-back and ultra cool.
The 6th ride was a couple in their early thirties. They were out for a formal dinner and drinks and were heading home. They were really kind people. They asked the same question “How long have you been driving for Uber?” and I answered the same I had been this week, “2 weeks although I’ve been registered for 2 months”. We started talking about my experiences and how I mostly liked meeting some pretty cool people and knowing that in a time where I miss my friends and family the most that I could get them to their destinations to or from being with their friends and family made it worth it. The woman rider thought that it was sentimental. I hoped she realized that it was my corny truth. Yup, you guessed it they got 5 stars.
The next call came in from a couple who was seeing a live show at the House of Blues. They needed a ride home and so the husband sat in the front and the wife in the back. They were pretty coolin too. The guy almost gave me a heart attack telling me my passenger seat wouldn’t recline. When I offered to pull over so he can see the handle he took out his phone and shone the light on the handle to see where it was. He found it, I was relieved and so was he. We spent the next 10 minutes talking about how big Houston is and how neither him nor his wife knew their way around town. I told him I didn’t either and had no intention to know it all because it was way too much landscape. We pulled up to the destination and they got out and thanked me. Just before I pulled off the husband opened the door again and asked how he could tip on the app and I told him I didn’t think he could and that because others asked me that I would find out. He thanked me again and I left. Of course real easy, 5 stars.
At this point, areas were surging and I was nowhere near making the amount of money I thought I would for the night so I headed towards the area to do so and lo and behold I got a call out east. It was a young lady (oh how I wish I could say her name!) who is also a first-time rider. She actually telephoned me and said “Heeeeeey Tiffany. Did you get my call for a ride?” whereto I responded that I did. She told me what her gate code was and which apt she was in. I got there and there she and her two friends were all gorgeous, all friendly and ready for me to take their photo. I did and when they got in the car they were grateful that the heat was on and running. They were so sweet. One of them called her sister and wished her a Happy New Year during the ride. She told her sister that they had a personal driver and that my name was Tiffany and that I was the real deal. They needed mints and I shared. They talked about being from Atlanta (which I should have known because they were WAAAAAAY too friendly to be locals) and how they were visiting Houston for the Holidays. A few minutes later we arrived at their location. It was yet another overly swanky gathering where folks were all dolled up and outside in the cold waiting to get in. Some rude ass in a Bentley was parked in the middle of the street blocking my way to get out. He looked young enough to be my son and I swear if I wasn’t in a hurry I would have got out and cursed his ass. Knowing damn well that wasn’t his car. And if it was-WTF….money just don’t care. So back to the girls. They went on to party and I gave them of course 5 stars.
The next call was from a really, really nice couple. They were leaving home headed to a house party. The woman was really sweet. Even though she too asked me how long I’d been driving for Uber I felt compelled to give her a tad more of my story. I told her the 2 weeks I’d told everyone else but I also told her part of the reason why I was doing it and that it was helping me identify if there were people in Houston I could relate to, feel good knowing that they are my distant neighbors in this grand stretch of land. I wanted to because I hadn’t found many in the 5 years and 6 months I’d lived here and I was questioning whether I could really stick it out in Houston for another few years or if it was time for me to move on. That conversation set out towards a weird place. In the few minutes I drove them from the Greater Heights area to Midtown we talked about racism, religion, what I do for a living, and marriage. She asked me where I might move to and we talked about home. I told her how much I missed my family, how I’d taken them for granted to a degree and how holidays more than anything made me think of how much so. She asked me if I had any family here because she wanted to invite me to Christmas Dinner next year. She said that she hated to know that there are people out in the world without a family. I explained to her that I had a family but that we were black sheeps. Told her how I was in a semi-relationship with my youngest son’s father and how his family didn’t acknowledge either of us because we aren’t Christians. Ok, that’s really how we started talking about religion and eventually told her how I’d gotten over it. I thanked her for listening to all of my stories and wished them a Happy New Year from there on. They got out of the car and I sat still for moment as the screen flashed asking me for her rating. Most definitely, 5 stars.
Prices were back to surging and I just so happened to be in the area to get the next call. It was a couple leaving what looked like an upscale Bar & Grill. It appeared to be packed and the woman got in the car, saying how toasty it was in the car, with a puffy face and a jacket draped over her. The guy was a tad short-tempered and thanked me for coming saying I was the only one who would come. As I pulled off the GPS told me to go a way when he rebutted saying since he was paying a surged rate that I should turn around and take the major road all the way down to his destination. I turned around and started in the direction he advised. A minute later I heard steady sobbing coming from the woman. She cried and cried and cried and cried all the while the guy tried to get her attention. It seemed like the ride was 2 hours long when in reality it only took 15 minutes. I remember offering the woman tissue and the guy taking it from me for her. If there is one thing I have grown to despise in my 38 years it’s hearing, and seeing for that matter, a female cry tears of pain. It’s always done something to me. They arrived at their destination and I told her that I hope she felt better. The guy took her by the hand and they got out of the car. Things were all blank for a minute and for that reason and for that reason alone I gave them 5 stars.
It was approximately 1:40 a.m. when I’d got my next call. I’d started getting a bit tired, stiff and sore-after all I’d been in the car driving (with the exception of a pee break at about 8ish) for almost 7 hours. I was headed back towards the inner city from the last call when I got a call that I thought was outside the city limits. I eventually pulled up to the destination and left because I thought it was the wrong place. I drove down a bit further and noted that there were no other buildings and went back to the previous. It was a Houston Police station and I sat there in the parking lot for several minutes before I telephoned the requestor and asked if I was in the right place. The woman on the phone told me that she’d sent me to the police station to pick up her friend and that she would text me her number. I hung up and phoned it several times and got no answer. Finally, a woman called back and asked if I was there to pick her up. I told her where I was parked and she told me that she was on the other side of the building. At that time a police car was pulling up. A big ass stocky mean looking Asian guy was driving and his partner, a White woman poked her head forward to hear my question after flagging them down. Mean ass pointed me towards the jail that was attached to the building and told me to leave the parking lot and go around the building. I did and found my rider. It had started to rain and she was getting soaked. She got in EXTREMELY chipper….I thought too much so for someone who had just been released from jail. Turns out, she was really nice. She asked me if I had a USB port and I plugged the converter in for her to use. She explained that she had been in for 4 days, her car was impounded and that she had no idea how she was going to get in her friend’s house. After she plugged up her phone she started texting and receiving messages. She then asked me if I could drop her by the Walgreens on the corner from her friend’s house when we got closer. I told her no problem and then she proceeded to tell me the rest of her story. She was in Pearland when she was pulled over for having a blown headlight. The Police ran her records and discovered she had a warrant for running a stop sign 4 years ago and failed to appear in court. For that she spent the last four days of 2014 in jail cold, hungry and tired. Not one of her “friends” she was in town to visit thought to bail her out sooner so she had to sit out her fine. You guessed it. She got 5 stars but she did for a few reasons, the first was I’d been praying for a new found freedom in 2015 for the last 7 days of 2014. Here at the last day, I was reminded what freedom was. The other 5 reasons why she got 5 stars are too long for this post.
I signed off at close to 3 a.m. I was spent. My back was screaming and my legs had gone partially numb. I was grateful that I’d gotten home safely and that another year had crept it’s way in quietly and calmly. I made two mental notes. One of all of the encounters I celebrated in part for the day and the other as a reminder. That was to add “have more fun going to new places in 2015” to my list of things to do. I couldn’t help think about how each rider was in a really good mood but then again partying and the Holidays does that to almost everyone. It was one of the best New Year’s Eve’s I’ve ever had. Who knows who I’ll be driving tomorrow? Stay tuned.