You’d be hard pressed to find me in an Uber or Lyft cab because I avoid the city. There’s just too many people. And people, other than my closest family and friends, absolutely suck. I stick to the suburbs because there are fewer diseases and fewer ugly people. But in the past two months I was forced to take a total of three Uber cabs, and all of them claimed to have some sort of side business or impressive life achievement.
The first cab driver’s name was an Indian named Abu. He looked in his late forties or early fifties. He said he worked at a convenience store, and Uber-driving offered him extra money to put his daughter through college.
I’m not trying to be offensive here, but Abu…? Convenience store employee…? That’s a one-letter difference from The Simpsons’ Apu.
He said that his daughter attends UMass and has a 3.8 GPA. Why he bothered to tell me even more details about his daughter without my prompting made me concerned. There are fixed marriages in India, but I’m already married. So when this guy proposes that I marry his daughter and I break the news that I’m already married, does he end up taking the long way to my location and charge me more?
Thankfully, he didn’t push for an arranged marriage. Turns out, he was just showing off his daughter’s accomplishments. But why?
This cab driver was closer to my age. A millennial in his late 20s or early 30s. Apparently Uber driving wasn’t his real job, either. But the only problem with him talking about his “real job” is that I didn’t ask. What do I care that you’re a marketer for some bullshit software company?
And the only reason I mention it is because it seemed this guy was embarrassed to be an Uber driver. I felt he was tellling me about his “real job” to make sure I knew that, “Hey, I’m actually not a loser. I have a career.”
And I just wanted to tell him, “Buddy, I don’t think you’re a loser. I think you’re awesome because you’re the guy driving me to the party. What’s more, I would have forgotten you existed in an hour had you not given me the defensive, ‘this-isn’t-my-real-job’ crap.”
Driver number three was a sad story, and I feel so sorry for his wife’s nasal passages, but not because he looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks. He claimed to have a side business, which was a smelly little thing sitting right in his car; scented electronic candles. Or some bullshit of that nature.
I don’t recall perfectly because by that time I was pretty drunk. All I remember was being driven from Boston to Jamaica Plain and feeling nauseous from the car’s scent for 25 minutes. The worst part, these candles were supposed to clear my sinuses and give me a sense of calm. They did nothing of the sort. They made me angry.
The man said these candles and other hippie crap from his hippie store were a great source of income for him. I doubt it.
“You should buy some for your wife. They’re perfect for the living room,” he said as he handed me his hippie business card.
“Thanks,” I said, while thinking why the fuck would I want electronic Febreze in my living room all day?
His business card is currently in the trash. And we have real Febreze in the bathroom.
Why do these drivers feel the need to tell me about their lives and jobs outside of Uber driving? Does the role of cab driver embarrass them? Whether they are lying or telling the truth, it serves my theory: They don’t want me thinking they’re a loser. And again, I don’t care if you’re a loser!
Compare that to me, a guy who likes to discuss my writing, blogging, and podcasting as a hobby outside of my real job, but at least I don’t lie to people about it being a “side business” or “good source of income.” And at least I’m not embarrassed of my real job.
Ultimately I don’t know what’s up with these drivers, and I don’t care. What I really need to happen is for these Uber cars to have a partition between the driver and passenger, just like a REAL cab or limousine, so that I don’t have to talk to anyone about their life or “REAL JOB.”
Our relationship with a cab driver is limited to less than an hour. We may never meet the same driver twice in our lifetime, so a conversation with them is irrelevant. I’m a huge fan of efficiency. I don’t like wasting my energy-in this case, using my vocal chords-on someone I have no interest in impressing, enjoying time with, or teaching. You, cab driver, are not my friend, you are not my wife, you are not my child or nephew. You are the tool I’m using to get from location ‘A’ to ‘B’. And last time I checked, tools don’t talk. At least not the ones in my shed.
So here’s a piece of advice to all you Uber and Lyft drivers: Shut up and drive like a normal cabbie: Run the red lights, disregard pedestrians, and get me there five minutes before the GPS’s estimate.