Too much time on your phone? We feel you.
The clock read 9:33 am.
I dressed easy knowing that outside of my apartment building, a silver Toyota Camry-cum-chariot awaited my arrival. I had been tracking my Uber driver in the three minutes since I summoned him and the Google-pinned location now revealed that my driver was approaching. I shuffled downstairs and into my supposed car.
From the periphery of my eye I could see a woman running after us as we pulled away, arms flailing. After a brief passive-aggressive scuffle, I acquiesced to Jane, whose Uber I had mistakingly hijacked. My matched driver flagged me down and I gave him my address.
It was now 9:41 am.
I settled into the seasoned leather seat and might’ve helped myself to a Lifesaver or six.
“So, you like Uber?” The driver asked, his eyes fixed on the road.
“Yes!” I responded, “Yes I do, it’s super convenient.”
“Well”– he turned around, flashing a toothy grin as he did — “they don’t like you.”
My initial reaction was panic. In the prolonged 15 seconds it took for my share-economy crusader to elaborate, I had contrived a Fincher-topian narrative in which I’d been taken hostage at an undisclosed location, my sole chance of survival depending on whether Liam Neeson was my dad. Which incidentally, he is not.
The driver reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He directed my gaze to his “notes” app where he had typed my husband’s name, Isaac, sandwiched between the words “DO NOT PICK UP” and “Sam Goodman – VIP CLIENT.”
He proceeded to explain that like passengers, Uber drivers have a rating system and I was failing at it, miserably. Numerous drivers had complained — on undisclosed forums — of my tardiness, frequently cancelled rides and poor communication skills. (I chalk that last one up to the non-existent cell service in my apartment.) The driver insisted that he was only telling me this to, “be nice” and, hey, he picked me up…right?
I spent the remainder of the ride oscillating between feelings of humiliation and misplaced gratitude towards this man who had accepted my request despite my less-than-stellar reputation. When my ride ended I paid the $10.00 fare and in a humble whisper said, “Will you give me five stars?”
I know. What?
The incident haunted me for days afterwards. I’d been abruptly blacklisted from the coolest fraternity on campus, and rather than exiting with grace I’d shamelessly bargained to be let back in the door.
I deleted Uber two days later.
It seems silly to laud the benefits of an Uber-free life. The app is a service that expedites the transportation process; it does not make it possible. It should come as no surprise that for some 30 days now, I’ve been surviving without Uber (although I’m not so sure about how they’re surviving without me). And why shouldn’t I be? We’re not talking about the toaster here — Uber didn’t invent crispy bread.
Uber took a system that wasn’t broken and for better or worse, tweaked it. You know what I tweaked? My butt cheeks; I take more frequent walks. I also relish in the anonymity shared with cab drivers, who seem to have a knack for knowing when to lament on the weather and when to leave you to your own devices. Waiting in the rain isn’t so bad when you’ve got a good podcast going, and tardiness? No longer an issue. The subway waits for no one.
The best part, though? No VIP clients.
Image via Elle Italia
Into this? Read about Esther’s trials and tribulations with the Apple Watch.