People say that you can become married to your job. They say that you can work at something for so long that it becomes a part of you. Being an Uber driver, I feel that this is doubly true simply because our job is to drive a car all day long. That means learning how it sounds, knowing when it has a problem and taking care of all its needs.
Much like a girlfriend! (Or a boyfriend, I’m not making any gender specific comments here, just telling it from one Uber driver’s point of view.)
I’m fortunate enough to have both (that’s a car and a girlfriend, not a girlfriend and a boyfriend) so I always have someone to vent to after a long day at work and I always have something to drive to take my mind off things when I want to be alone. Through the years, I’ve figured there are some things you should definitely say to your Uber car, but definitely never say to your girlfriend. It’ll make both relationships last longer.
The funny thing for me about having a girlfriend and a Uber driving gig is that one has helped the other. Driving around town means I’ve been able to spot every cool eatery, know when all the big events are in town and just find all the hidden gems that I never would have noticed if I stayed at home. And having a girlfriend means… well it means I can interact with people much better than before. (You see, some of us are naturally introverts).
So without further ado, the five things I recommed you should say to your Uber ride but not to your girlfriend:
“I need to make sure you’re clean so other people can see you.”
Okay, I hope this is self-explanatory enough of why this is a problem to say to your girlfriend. She isn’t your eye candy, son! She isn’t here to please your friends or look good for you or anybody but herself! But your Uber car, don’t get lazy. Don’t fall into the habit of thinking everything is fine because you don’t want to inspect every nook and cranny. Remember, your riders will be sitting there in the back for ten minutes (sometimes longer) so they’ll notice all that grime or any shaved corners. So don’t give a reason for them to leave a poor review. This is really about professionalism and being on top of things.
“I really don’t like the sounds you’re making.”
When your significant other speak, you’re best off not complaining. Trust me, that only makes it worse (and makes the sound get louder). But for your Uber car, by all means tell it when it’s whining. The worst thing you can do is go to work with a broken ride or one that is unsafe. That’s just dangerous for you and your passengers and even if you get away with it, you’re facing the perception that you are not a safe driver. Again, it comes down to professionalism.
“I’m going to trade you in for a better one soon.”
Yeah, I don’t think this one needs any explanation, but wait a second, we should say this to our car at work too? Absolutely! This is the best way to stay motivated and have your eye on a long-term goal. It’s about setting goals and knowing you can drive something better in a few years because you’re putting in those hours now. Often when I am frustrated I remind myself that if I keep my head down I’ll be able to make enough money to buy that extra thing in my life.
Of course, driving an Uber isn’t solely about money. It’s about the stories and the people and all the cool perks that go along with it. But sometimes having a goal in mind makes you put in those extra hours and pay extra attention to those details too.
“Man, there’s some tread on those tires.”
If you’re in a relationship, never comment on looks deteriorating. That’s like rule number one in the ‘do not say’ rulebook. But like our maintenance and safety issues, it’s so important to know how long you’ve driven your car and also how long you have driven as a driver. That’s because both wear down and won’t perform well after a certain number of drives or hours. So if you want to be a great driver it also means pacing yourself enough to not get burnt out. It means having the stamina to stay alert at all times on the job.
I love that we work together. Wait a second? Don’t say this to a girlfriend? Hear me out. Close proximity is a good thing, but working together is too close. It’s just a bad mixture. You don’t want to work with someone that you’re dating because it can only cause problems.
You do, however, want to love your car if you’re an Uber driver. This job only works if you love driving. It only works if you love showing up for work and you’re self-motivated and you look forward to all the craziness of a Friday night. It works because all the troubles are worth it to you.
So really, there’s not too much. Of course, there are things you can say to your car and your girlfriend:
I’ll always take care of you.
Let me take you somewhere romantic.
You deserve a day at the spa… er, mechanic.
Well, you get the picture.
Uber’s 5-star Review is Not What You Think
I’ve always found rating systems confusing. This makes sense because even in high schools and colleges, grade inflation has crept in and become a national issue. If schools can’t figure out how to grade (isn’t that what they’re here for anyway?), then how can the rest of us figure out how to rank and rate movies, books, hotels and restaurants?
I once had a conversation with my significant other about a movie. The conversation went like this:
Her: Ugh, the acting was atrocious, but it was really funny.
Me: Really? I thought they were great! They were the ones that made it funny.
Her: Well, it suffered from other issues too like dialogue and a boring beginning.
Me: I kind of loved the dialogue. I give it a solid B-.
Her: It’s a B+ for me.
Oh, the confusion! We both have completely different rating systems so what’s the point of even doling out a grade? We learned a lot more by discussing the merits anyway.
So, bear with me here. Imagine going to a restaurant, maybe one recommended to you by your significant other or best friend. The food is fantastic, the service efficient and the ambiance was pretty good, not the best, but pretty good. You go home and tell your family about it. Maybe you even post on Facebook or other social media sites.
You tell everyone that it’s a solid 4-star restaurant. No one thinks twice about your review. Hey, 4-stars is pretty good and if you look up restaurants in your area you’ll note that there are plenty of really good dining options at 3-stars so those 4-star options are saved for those special dates.
What if I told you that those restaurants would lose business or cease to exist because they “only” got 4 stars? That even if you loved the food, but wanted to point out that something could be better, you’d be punishing the restaurant by not giving a perfect score? That would be completely ridiculous and unfair, right? I mean that would mean no restaurant deserved to be in business, or that everyone would be forced to inflate the scores in order to keep their favorite restaurants up and running.
Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening at Uber. You see, the rating system has a huge problem.
Uber Drivers Rated Under 5-stars Can Lose their Uber Driver Privilege
Uber drivers are rated out of 5 stars much like other service industries, except anything under 5 stars is considered somehow deemed unacceptable (see screenshot). That’s right, for a driver there really is no difference between being a 4.0 (4.5 even) and a 1.0. In fact, anything below a 4.5 rating = “below average” and we lose our right to drive when our rating drops below 4.7 on a consistent basis. Yeah, if you’re counting at home that means you can score an “A” and still get canned from your gig. Talk about pressure!
There are so many problems stemming from this rating system. The first comes from riders who are unfamiliar with Uber’s policy. They may like a driver and even be completely satisfied with their experience but leave a ‘low’ mark because they don’t understand what the rating can do to a driver. It’s like when you fill out those comment cards at restaurants. I know I never fill out ‘perfect’ for every category. I always figure that would mean nothing could be improved. But how ridiculous and awful would I feel if I got a waiter fired simply because I marked “good” instead of “great”? That’s exactly what it is with Uber drivers. Below average ratings can lead to deactivation as an Uber driver.
Okay, no problem, you may think. We just need to educate the riders how this all works. Ignoring the impossibility of this solution, that won’t work either. We’d still have a flawed system on our hands. You see, if we give a 5.0 rating to any passing experience, then there’s no differentiation between a good driver and an outstanding one – they would both receive a 5.0 . It’s like if I were to take a math exam and compare my score to a Ph.D candidate. If we both took an elementary school test, we may both end up with 100%! I’m the same! I’m an expert! Except that would be a really inefficient way to rank us.
So what’s the solution? Well, they could have changed the rating system to a simple pass/fail if they wanted to convey only that a driver was acceptable (this wouldn’t be ideal, but really there doesn’t seem to be any difference between getting a 3.0 and 1.0 and 4.0 rating at this point so it might as well be the same thing). Some will argue that they could relax the cut-off point. But I understand the need to keep strict cutoff points in order to ensure the safety and service at Uber.
So Uber is in a precarious situation. We’ll eventually end up with a bunch of 5.0 drivers. Maybe the best way to show differentiation and appreciation is through tipping (oh boy, that’s a whole other issue). Tipping, after all, is showing gratitude for exceptional service and the fact that it isn’t a part of the Uber culture is mindboggling and harmful to drivers and riders alike.
Finally, this is also a friendly public service announcement to all riders. If you’re happy with a driver, leave 5 stars. It’s not a perfect system, but in the one that we have we must ensure that we aren’t unfairly punishing drivers. You don’t want a good driver to lose his or her job because of a poor rating and unfortunately Uber has created a system where anything less than perfect is considered poor.
So get educated. Help a driver out! And if you really want to reward him or her for a job well done, don’t be afraid to tip. It’ll help both driver and rider in the long run.
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