Well, the hammer has come down. Uber did their background check, noticed the three speeding tickets I’ve had in the past year, and kicked me to the curb. Lyft doesn’t want me either for the same reason. Credit where credit is due, the people at the local Uber office were very informative and fair with me when I asked when I could try again (which is basically long enough for the infractions to fall off my record). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss it. I gained a much better awareness of the city, discovered places I might never have tried, and got to meet a wide assortment of people that I got to share about here. That’s not to mention the incredible flexibility it lent me. It’s hard to say what the future may bring, whether that means returning to Ubering and this blog in a few years, morphing the site into something else, or simply leaving it as a record of these years in my life. Regardless, time marches forward and so thus will I. To the handful of loyal readers out there, thank you for joining me on this bizarre journey and stay gold.
Hello and welcome to an abridged version of Uber King of the Queen City. Due to a combination of procrastination, mechanical errors, bureaucratic delays, and sharing a household with people who don’t know what to do with the mail when it comes in, I was not able to renew my registration until the 26th and did not have it in hand until this past Thursday. Thus, since Uber does not let me drive with them with an expired registration and I’m still waiting for approval, I have not driven since last Friday night. It’s worth mentioning I did earn $1 this week from a tip from a past trip so this week was not a 100% bust. The first week still came with a story or two as well. My last and longest trip on Monday night had me on a wild goose chase through Monroe trying to find a bar open after 12 on a Monday. On Friday, I had two occasions where I picked up two delivery orders at the same time which is especially remarkable since it seldom happens at all, much less twice in the same night. A rider from Gastonia told me one of the best bar stories I may have heard in my entire life. Her father’s Army unit was stationed in Germany during Vietnam and while he had a day off, he met a nice girl at the beach who was buried up to her neck in the sand. They hit it off and they agreed to meet later in the week so he could take her out. He shows up at the door to her parent’s door where her father greets him with open arms. Then her mother brings her down in a bucket. Record scratch-the girl has no legs. But her father decides this doesn’t change the good rapport they had and he takes her out anyway. As he starts driving her, she suggests she knows a place where they can go park. She directs him to a park where there is a tree with a nail in it for him to hang a bucket on that puts her at eye level for him to make out with her. They proceed to do exactly that for a while before calling it a night and bringing her home. When he gets back to her house, her father remarks,”Wow, you must really like her. Most guys just leave her on the nail.” I pray to God I don’t learn this was borrowed from some book or movie because everything about it from the pacing to its ending is exactly what I would want in a story. I think my delay in sending a photo of my new registration may have raised some flags at Uber HQ so tune in next time to see if they still let me drive and until then, stay gold.
You know your circadian rhythm is messed up when even truck stop coffee doesn’t keep you from getting tired at inopportune times. My name is Josh and this is Uber King of the Queen City. I hit the road the Friday before last determined to drive until I hit the time limit and the app cut me off and that is exactly what I did. My second ride that day was a journey to the airport wherein I listened to my rider argue with the property management company of his building about getting assurance that a boot would not be put on his car while he was out of town which proved to be quite entertaining from an outsider’s perspective. Last Sunday, I gave a ride to a man from Micronesia wherein we had a brief conversation about colonization and its effect on one’s heritage. This past week was a really good week for tips, as in they represented a third of my earnings after four days. Thanksgiving night was a weird phenomenon in itself. It seems there weren’t a ton of drivers on the road, leading me to have several long pickups. In addition, there were several early Black Friday shoppers calling on me for a lift. That does it for this entry. Stay gold.
That’s another two weeks in the bag. Let’s see what we have to show for it. During the day on Halloween, the forces of coincidence decided to play a cruel joke on me when I picked up a student at a school where there had been a shooting two days prior and it is at that moment that “Another One Bites the Dust” cues up on the radio. The powers that be can be pretty sick at times. That night I had dinner at Tacos 4 Life and really enjoyed it so I want to take this opportunity to plug them. This past Thursday I had a minor disagreement with a rider about what qualifies as quality music but in a diplomatic way that didn’t put my rating at risk. Finally, last night I spent a good 10 minutes trying to detour my way through and around all the lane closures on 77. Fortunately, my riders were understanding/too tired to notice. That does it for this round. Stay gold.
I’m not going to lie; these weeks have been good to me. In general news, I got $20 worth of credit towards UberEats because I was psychotic enough to drive people around while Florence was rolling through so that’s pretty neat. On Monday night 9/15, I passed through a neighborhood where the electricity was knocked out because someone had taken out a power pole so that was a little hairy. The next night I took a guy on a fruitless hunt for a bar that was open late on a weekday night before taking him home. Come the following night, I had to redirect a young woman who wanted to go to the Spectrum Center but had selected the first thing that had Spectrum in the name which happened to be her local service center. That Friday, I listened to one of my riders tell the tale of a feud he had with his neighbor that ended up coming to blows and both parties getting kicked out of the apartment complex. Finally, last night proved to be quite the adventure given it was Halloween weekend beginning with the drunken cow I picked up at 6 pm that left his phone in my car and the journey to return it which ended with me giving him and his friend a ride back into town for $20. It ended with me cancelling on my rider because he got into the wrong car but we were both good sports about it and I told him what to tell his new driver to do so he would get to his destination okay. I can’t imagine things will outshone Halloween times in the coming weeks but who can really tell.
It’s been another two weeks and the trips have definitely gotten more interesting than last time. Last Monday, a guy forgot to change the delivery address from the hotel he stayed at so I got a free McFlurry. On Friday, I took a middle-age couple to a concert at the PNC Pavilion and they showed their gratitude to the tune of $67.34. This past Monday, my longest trip took me to the far reaches of Mooresville with all the joy of I-77 at rush hour. I had one of the most bourgeois encounters I’ve experienced on Wednesday. I picked up a guy and his golf clubs from the airport for private planes in Gastonia who had been brought there from SC on his friend’s plane and I brought him to a country club in NW Charlotte where he was meeting with another friend who was going to give him a room for the night while Hurricane Michael went through. Finally, last night surges were ridiculous with some areas going as high as $13. My last trip brought me to the boonies of Clover, SC so it was certainly an adventure driving all the way back home at 2:30 am. Despite all that, I live to drive another day.
I spent most of yesterday moving heavy objects so I’m just glad to have the opportunity to sit. The majority of trips these weeks were pretty mundane to be honest. The only one really worth mentioning was an earlier one last night wherein the boyfriend of my rider cancelled the trip after I had already picked her up. I asked her to kick him in the shins on my behalf. Maybe next time will be better.
If you are reading this, you survived Florence. Congratulations. I did too, want to hear about it? Uber did a major overhaul on their driver app. I like the new sound cues but I’m not fond of the fact they took away Pandora. As a result, I’ve been listening to audio-books. Garrison Keillor is possibly the whitest human being alive but David Sedaris is fun. Last Wednesday, I was called upon to deliver a bunch of flowers from one florist to another and on my way witnessed a car that had flipped over on the highway. The following day might have been more productive if my alternator had not died in the middle of a trip. Luckily, the rider was cool about it and we were in a populated area. Trying to compensate for lost time on Friday found me in the Davidson area for most of the night trying to work around the fact that the main highway exit I needed to be at was closed for construction all night. Saturday, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between the two women in my backseat wherein one of them was confessing her desire to become a mother, not in a take-the-next-step-with-my-partner way but in a way that includes the words “turkey baster.” Strangely, I’m not sure if this even cracks the top 10 of wackiest encounters in my car. This past Friday when the hurricane was beginning to make its presence known, I had a group call to warn me about a tree being down a block from their home and then tip me $5 for my time when they flaked. Finally last night was devoted to driving through the rain doing long trips around Gastonia fueled heavily by long pickup fees. Hopefully, we’ll still have functional roads by next week. Stay gold.
The schedule of things has been pretty chaotic these past couple weeks and so it’s all kind of a blur. Let’s see if I can sort it out. I would like to open with a public service announcement to dispel the rumors that Jews don’t tip. To that end, I present my counterexample of my pizza delivery to the local temple last Wednesday where I was tipped 128%. Post-football game pickups on Friday night were a delight with people wanting to get picked up two blocks from the stadium and asking me to find vague landmarks in the dark. I also had a guy who wanted to go to Black Finn in the Epicentre but accidentally selected the restaurant of the same name in Alabama. On Saturday, I went to a local anime con and was greatly disappointed so I tried to drive away my sorrows and ended up having a 20 minute conversation with a rider about Overwatch that was way more fun than that damn con. This past Monday, I had two airport pickups that took me to Belmont which is not a common occurrence much less twice on the same day. On Wednesday night, I accompanied my rider into a convenience store because he was treating me and it was there at an Exxon quik-e-mart in the middle of the night that a former student recognized me from my days as a tutor. Existence is fucking weird. Come back next time for the random happenstances I find myself in.
I am convinced the Russians are fucking with Uber’s systems. There has to be a reason for the frequency at which McDonalds’ are not having their delivery orders come through. It’s frustrating wasting 10-15 minutes waiting to find out you’re not getting paid for your time. I also have to reboot the location finder sometimes just to get up-to-date directions but maybe the upcoming app update may fix this. We can only dream.
Last Monday, I listened to an employee’s advice and got in the regular line at Moe’s to pick up my delivery order rather than the designated pick-up register and got my food much sooner. My last ride Thursday night left his whisky bottle behind which I did not realize until my first Friday ride found it. The following Sunday, I delivered some McD’s in the middle of the night to a nursing home. There wasn’t any hoops to jump through or anything; I just walked in and found the room. However, last night proved to be the main event. On the positive side, I had a pleasant cultural exchange with a Turkish immigrant going home after a late night of work as well as a pop-punk jam session with a lovely young miss. However, they pale in comparison to my last-call ride where I was basically a Jerry Springer episode on wheels with two drunken 20-something girls screaming at each other for most of the 30 minute trip while a third struggled to keep them from ripping each other’s hair out. In short, it was the kind of trip that inspires this blog. Stay gold.