Did you think I forgot, lovelies? Perish the thought. Beyond a rush job after the app gave me the wrong pick-up address, Tuesday wasn’t all that exceptional. Thursday saw me conquering a new town: Dallas, NC, just north of Gastonia. The journey to get there was about 20 minutes but the actual trip was twice that. I also had one of my wiper blades come loose while scooting through rush hour traffic on the highway but luckily the rain wasn’t heavy enough for it to be a significant issue. One of my first trips on Friday night took twice as long as expected as we waited for a train that easily felt like it was 1/2 mile long. Toward the end of the night, I took most of the women from a bachelorette party home who, in addition to standard drunken shenanigans, left half a sandwich in my backseat. Due to changes in my regular work schedule, I drove Sunday night instead of Saturday this week which actually proved more lucrative than Friday. A gentleman tipped me $20 on what was already a $26 trip so cheers to that guy. He was immediately followed by a drunken housewife and her companion who had to herd her to and from the car. It was definitely a noteworthy week.
This has been a mercurial week, to say the least. Tuesday was a borderline disaster since my phone was struggling to maintain a connection with the Uber server. I wasted two hours driving from the university area to Cornelius and back to Uptown without a single ride. But Thursday made up for it in literally three trips. Right after finishing a shift at day treatment, I took a rider from Monroe to Chesterfield, SC, a 40 minute trip through Trump country with the last mile taking me on a dirt road. Once I made my way back to Monroe, my next trip was from there to just north of I-85. Those two combined with a short 4-mile trip to Plaza Midwood and I surpassed my earnings for Tuesday in half the time. Friday kept me hopping including a trip from the airport to Mooresville. Beyond that, it was the usual assortment of people looking to party. I went out with friends Saturday night so I didn’t do much driving but my last ride that night is worthy of note because the person who requested the ride put the pick-up and destination in backwards. Luckily it wasn’t a significant distance and everyone made it home safe. Hopefully, next week proves better.
I think this weekly posting schedule is working out pretty well for me. I’ll probably stick to it unless I have a truly spectacular weekday or something. Tuesday afternoon was remarkably successful given that I spent half of it at day treatment. I took a gentleman from Monroe to Waxhaw and three trips later, I was halfway up Brookshire Boulevard. Except for the hour that I wasted wrestling with my phone’s failure to connect with the Uber server, Thursday wasn’t particularly exceptional. Friday was lousy in terms of fares. I barely made $10 for every hour I was on the road. I also got a wrong number when I tried to get in contact with one of my riders who didn’t show, a truly bizarre happenstance. Saturday definitely compensated for it though. It was about 10 pm when I got to Uptown so I was getting surge pricing on at least half of my trips. Most of my riders were the typical clientele of drunken 20-somethings looking to keep the party going or simply going home. One of my last rides of the night though turned out to be a pair of local comedians and it was interesting to hear them talk about their friends and them working alongside household names like Chris Rock and Bruce Bruce.
What a wild and crazy weekend it’s been. All of my driving this week has been in the past three days so I’ve elected to condense it down to a mega-post. Let’s begin.
Thursday: I bonded with my first rider of the afternoon over our struggles with the one-way streets of Uptown. I also spotted a car in the lane next to me in the University area filled with so much garbage it was legitimately obstructing the rear-view. I don’t understand how that is acceptable for some people. I also crowned a new champion for longest ride in terms of duration which hopefully will not be toppled. I took a gentleman from Uptown to near the Arboretum in South Charlotte to the CVS in Piper Glen and finally to the airport for a total time of 94 minutes thanks to rush hour traffic.
Friday: In immediate contrast, one of my shortest: 1 minute, 39 seconds. After Friday, I’ve now decided to put more severe restrictions on allowing smoking in my car. My earlier policy allowed for it provided you had the window open. This works for most people during the day in the summertime. However, when it’s 40 degrees in the middle of the night and we’re flying down the highway, smokers want to be able to light up and be warm at the same time and become unable to follow my rule. Thus, from henceforth, groups don’t get to smoke anymore but single riders might because the dynamic between me and them is more direct. It was an incredibly busy night though with a total of 30 trips.
Saturday: The St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl was a boon to Uber drivers and I was no exception. At least, not completely. Between my 00’s era pop punk and 70’s rock Pandora stations, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments about my music selection including several last night. I also got props for knowing the difference between Tommy Two-Tone’s “Jenny” and Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl.” I picked up a young woman whose boyfriend made a point to get a good look at my face before I drove off in case I tried to get fresh. A valid move I suppose even if it created an uneasy tension between the rider and myself. But back to my original point about being an “exception,” Saturday night kept me very busy with the majority of my trips being accepted before I had finished the last one but most of them happened far away from the action in Uptown with one of my pick-ups being all the way in Waxhaw. At the end of the night though, just as it started to snow, I witnessed a taxi get rear-ended. My heart goes out to you fella; that sucks royally. I’ll probably take it a little slower this coming week. My car could use the break.
This weekend was a unique one to say the least. One of my riders on Friday gave me a gift/souvenir of our time together: a DTC tumbler (see photo below). I’ve tried to find the logo online to identify it but have come back empty-handed. Beyond that, my most noteworthy passengers that night were a family of three with a crying child. Saturday was when the oddballs came out since I was driving later in the night. My first ride of the night took me from Matthews to Fort Mill. The ride immediately after that was a pick-up from the Anne Springs Close Greenway Dairy Barn which is apparently a popular event venue in the area. It still threw me for a loop when I had to drive down a dirt road to get to the building. At about 2 am, I picked up a fella who not only asked me to play Justin Bieber but also to tell some jokes as we started our trip. I also got my nightly dosage of pinheads in one trip in the form of two guys and a girl who were enormously loopy and all struggling with the idea of why it’s pointless to turn the heat up if they also have the windows open to smoke. Overall, this weekend was very profitable and I look forward to doing it all again next weekend.
I’ve been at the top of my game this week with two $70+ weekdays. On Tuesday, I drove from the airport to Gastonia only to make an exact return trip with the rider. At 12 miles away, I’m the closest guy? My travels around rush hour not only took me into South Carolina but all the way to a 5-block radius of the place where I used to work in Rock Hill. It truly is a small world after all. Today was accidentally more lucrative than expected. After getting a shave and a haircut in the morning, I went online while driving home and ended up taking a pair of hungover co-workers to retrieve their cars after what sounded like a blurry night before. The journey took me all the way to the university area so I decided to just grab a cheap fast-food lunch rather than drive all the way home and continued with my afternoon travels. I had one of my longest trips on record taking a young man from a preparatory school in Mooresville ( I was pursuing a surge, don’t judge me) all the way to the northwest portion of 485, a total of 22 miles. I tried the tip jar thing this week. Not a goddamn thing, not even from businessmen going to the airport. Ah well, it’s not exactly a loss if it was bonus money in the first place.
Do big events just make people stupid? Between lane closures and pedestrians being oblivious to the world around them, Uptown Charlotte was a goddamn nightmare last night. It was still a pretty successful night though. My first two rides of the night both had minor surges attached. I also now have a personal grudge against the Power 98 radio station because their company vehicle stopped crossways in the middle of what was already a very narrow road for no reason I could see. Shout-out to the guy sitting nearby who pointed me out to the driver that he was blocking me. Immediately after that mess, I delivered a guy from Uptown to Huntersville because he had gone to the wrong hospital. Finally, I legitimately had a ride that was less than a mile in distance take nearly a half hour because the traffic was that bad. Before I conclude, I would like it documented that I had a confirmed repeat rider during my one afternoon trip coming back from work. Until next time, watch out for pinheads.
Soooooo…it’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s not completely my fault though. I didn’t write anything last week because there was literally nothing worth writing about after my Tuesday session and my phone went haywire on Saturday, preventing me from driving. But I’ll try to make it up today and this weekend. Tuesday started off really slow but picked up around rush hour of all times. I took a guy in Cornelius on his day’s errands to the grocery store and post office before returning home. I gave another guy in town on business a tip about the Zagat-rated restaurant in the hotel he was staying at. I was also able to give my duplicate Hatsune Miku backpack clips to a loving home. On Thursday, my first rider talked to me at length about his experiences as a driver and heavily pushed for me to keep a tip jar in my cup holder. Personally, I’m concerned about the presence of it being a little presumptuous and pushy, but I haven’t written off the idea completely just yet. I’m hitting the road again tonight so hopefully I’ll return with tales of glory and intrigue
It’s time for a weekend mega-post. My first rider on Friday was so hyped about using Uber for the first time that he forgot the tickets to the concert I was taking him to. Hopefully, he was able to find an electronic replacement. I had someone leave their car keys in the back seat but luckily was able to get them returned before the night was out. My last trip of the night took me all the way to Cramerton, just east of Gastonia. I truly don’t understand folks who have to travel 15+ miles home and make the call at 3 am. I also feel it’s worth regaling the tale that one of my other passengers heard from a previous driver they had. It seems that while driving a couple in a rocky relationship on the highway, the woman attempted to jump out of the car. The driver managed to grab her leg and the boyfriend pulled her the rest of the way in. Needless to say, the guy pulled over, paramedics were called, etc. The kicker is that a couple days later, the driver gets reprimanded by Uber support for touching a rider. To the driver from that story, wherever you may be, my heart goes out to you, bro.
Because I went so late on Friday, I didn’t go hard on Saturday but it still proved worth my while. My second trip, and only surge, took me to the same country club where they played the Wells Fargo Championship. Now I’ve never been explicitly put down by passengers like these, but I never feel more intensely aware of my social class than when I’m dropping off people at a country club. I also had was probably my favorite group of riders in a while. We all basically spent the whole trip from 51 to Uptown loudly singing late 90s/early 00s songs like a bunch of idiots. It was a blast, regardless. To cap off the night, I had a debacle of mistaken identity. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call the riders Dana and Donna. Dana asked for a pick-up in a very congested strip in the city. I managed to find a spot to stop and wait and called Dana. She didn’t pick up. At all. All four times I called her in as many minutes. Finally I cancel. Almost immediately, Donna calls for a pick-up on the other side of the traffic light I’m stopped at, though I don’t see her. Then I get on a knock on my door and the person answers to Donna when asked. They also already know my name. They get in and I start to drive when the registered rider cancels. Now all becomes clear: this is Dana who has not realized I cancelled. Cutting to the chase, Dana finds another ride and I told Uber not to charge Donna. Check your phones people. No answer means a no-show means cancelled ride.
My mental state is not what I want it to be right now but if there’s one thing I excel at, it’s carrying on regardless. I actually drove last Thursday but there wasn’t anything worth writing about. I had some substantial periods of downtime yesterday but longer trips made up for it. It gave me time to catch up on the latest episodes of my podcast subscriptions anyway. My riders weren’t anything to rave about, but sometimes no news is good news. As far as sights, I saw few posters offering to buy diabetic test strips. I’m trying to change up my route a little bit so hopefully I can get a more consistent stream of riders as well as more interesting stories.