The Experience of Driving for Uber
February 25, 2020
While many people view Uber as a convenient mode of transportation, some are hesitant about using the app, as they fear being picked up by a stranger. Often overlooked, however, are the fears of Uber drivers, allowing unfamiliar people into their personal vehicle multiple times a day. As I thought about why these simple interactions can appear so nerve-wrecking, I decided to ask Uber drivers for their perspectives.
A few days ago, my friends and I took three Ubers, simply with the intention of being observant passengers. The first two drivers did their job perfectly fine, but lacked in the department of engaging in conversations with us. On the contrary, our last driver treated us as if he had known us for years. I asked him what his experience was with meeting different types of people on Uber and he said he loves the whole social aspect of it. However, when he first started, he admitted to being a little hesitant at letting people he’s never laid eyes onto take a seat in his car.
Adam Leopoid, an Uber driver in Philadelphia, said he too has witnessed some interesting encounters with people as a driver.
“One time this guy that I picked up was a big conspiracist. He was trying to convince me that he had been abducted by an alien and that the government was listening into my thoughts. He further believed that the weather was controlled by technology,” said Leopoid, “I just simply nodded, trying to avoid an even more awkward car ride.”
Leopoid believes that some people treat Uber drivers like their therapists and share many details about their life as they rarely, if ever, see one another again. He thinks that people feel more comfortable venting about their secrets with a stranger because when they exit the car, they are likely to not meet-up again.
“My first day it was weird. I could tell the people who I drove that day used Uber in the past, and so they just got into my car acting all normal. It took awhile to get into the rhythm of random people getting into my car,” said Leopoid.
As intrigued as I was by this, I wanted to see if other Uber drivers viewed their job in the same way. One Uber driver, Matthew Smith, spoke about the perks of being a driver and also some of his unusual car rides.
Smith told me that he had Ubered around 1250 people, and while a majority of them were everyday normal interactions, he has also had a few unforgettable car rides.
“I’ve had people that bring exotic pets in my car like snakes and birds. I’ve also driven Bam Margdra, an actor most commonly known for his role in ‘Jackass’. This was for sure memorable driving around a celebrity,” said Smith.
Both Smith and Leopoid mentioned the relationships they have established from Uber. Smith said he has met people that he has established connections with outside of Uber and has even gone on dates with. Leopoid explained a story to me about how he helped a woman out with her apparent distress revolving drugs, and even tied his personal experiences into the conversation to lead her in a helpful direction.
“Working for Uber is such an interesting experience that I suggest everyone try at least once in their life. It really lets you get a snippet into the lives of people from all walks of life doing all different things,” said Leopoid.
These conversations helped me to view Uber from a different lens than just an average user pressing buttons on the app awaiting the arrival of their temporary chauffeur. Aside from a handful of awkward experiences that make for great stories, a typical Uber driver simply takes a variety of people to their destination while maintaining some small talk.