RI Confidential: I Took An Uber

Neurotically cautious me in the Uber car 

Neurotically cautious me in the Uber car 

Yesterday, I finally took an Uber.

Truth is I added the app to my I-Phone months ago. It was my twenty-something nephew Chris who first convinced me to sign up. And I figured it was a good fall back in case I ever got stuck anywhere. (For the record, the only time I've ever really been stuck anywhere was Lupo's one Friday night during the mid 90's when my ride, a HS friend, disappeared with someone from the headlining act and left me standing with the bouncer who kept telling me how I was too cute NOT to have a boyfriend.) I'd also read an article in the Times last year about how Uber is changing lives in LA by making it possible to live there happily without owning a car. (FYI: Dale Bozio and Missing Persons were right - Nobody walks in LA!)

I hadn't used the app until yesterday though because my mom kept scaring me with reasons and stories about why I should not partake. (Not gonna lie, my mom's old world over protective and would prefer I never leave my house unless in the company of either my husband or a blood relative. No joke.) But I digress...

Flash back to yesterday, when I had to get to Washington Street by 5:30 or 6 and was dreading trying to find parking downtown (PVD) at that hour. OK, I dread parking downtown at any time of the day or night. (True confession: I prefer restaurants there that have valet parking because I parallel park as well as I surf or paddle board. In other words, I suck.) In desperation, I clicked on the Uber app, entered the address where I had to be and waited nervously, not knowing exactly what would happen next.

A minute later, a driver's pix, first name and model of car popped up at the bottom of the screen. No idea who my 'Uber guy' was, but he looked alright (#FingersCrossed he was not a serial killer or rapist), so I decided to go outside and wait for his arrival. After all, according to the app, he was less than 7 minutes away. 

While waiting, I took a few selfies to post on IG (That's Instagram folks.) and watched the progress of my 'Uber car' (The app shows you exactly where the driver is while he or she is en route to you.). Once I got into the small-ish economy four door, however, it was clear that my 'Uber guy' wanted to chat. Ugh. About the weather. Cold spring. Looks like it's gonna rain. About the fact that his phone battery - with his GPS - was dying. Of course, I had my head buried in my I-Phone. Updating IG and FB and checking my emails. It was then that I decided to start informally interviewing him. Because Blogger = journalist, right? 

Here's what happened next:

Me: What areas of RI do you get the most calls from?

Him: All over. (He was apparently driving all over the state yesterday. And he enjoys it. He's one of those people who love to drive I guess.)

Me: What was your last job before Uber?

Him: He drove a truck for a well-known RI company that offers roadside assistance, but retired and now works f/t driving for Uber.

Me: What's the one thing you would tell anyone who is thinking about using Uber?

Him: Don't be afraid. (He assured me that background checks are done on all the drivers and that Uber also takes steps to protect drivers by securing info about the riders or clients.) He must have heard those same stories my mom's been telling me. (He also met Martha Stewart in Newport one summer, but let me be clear, she was not an Uber passenger. Ha!)

Now, despite the fact that my guy wanted to chat and his phone/GPS was dying, I would take Uber again in a heartbeat, especially downtown where the parking can be a total nightmare. There are simply too many cars in PVD. I mean last time I met someone for lunch downcity, I had to park in a-charge-by-the-hour lot and ended up spending way more than what I did for Thursday's ride to Washington St. The 15 minute ride from my house cost a little over $10 - not bad - although I have heard horror stories about price surges. Apparently "they" can happen at any time without warning and people have been burned. (Keep in mind that the last cab I took in RI - a few years ago to go only a few blocks - charged me $12. #Outrageous) My driver even cautioned me about price surges, which I thought was quite nice of him. Not gonna lie, I know myself well enough to say that if I were ever charged a crazy high rate, I'd probably be soured on the whole darn thing, but as of right now, I am a fan. 

How about you? Yay or Nay Uber? Let me know in the comments.

Ciao For Now,

Patty J

PS - I also feel kind of guilty b/c in the follow up email Uber sent (They send that as well as a detailed receipt, listing what you were charged for and why.), I accidentally gave my driver a one star rating. OOPS...Not intentional. And speaking of evaluations, I saw an essay somewhere by Delia Ephron, sister of the late great Nora, in which she revealed that Uber Drivers actually rate their passengers, so be warned: If YOU get one too many poor scores, they have the option to refuse to drive you.