Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Getting An 'A' In Uber

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published February 15, 2017] ©2017
I recently saw an article on MSN about how you can find out what rating Uber drivers have given you. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that it would be a perfect 5. I only get A’s. I do not do B+.  I am also an Uber driver’s dream: I’m standing out front when they arrive, regardless of the weather. I chat it up with them, am insanely cheerful, always give THEM a 5 and never fail to write a message of praise for their Ubering skills in the comments section. 
So I was stunned – and stunned is actually way too mild a word – to discover that my rating from drivers was 4.89.  WHAAAAAT?????  I’d love to get my hands on that driver (or drivers) who gave me less than a perfect score.  I even gave a 5 to the driver who blasted Christmas music in my ear at 120 decibels AND the one who took me ten miles out of my way. I demand an explanation!
But the app doesn’t provide explanations. Just an average score.
Seriously, this is haunting me. I take Uber a lot. My driving parameters definitely narrowed after a serious auto accident several years ago, and I also don’t like to drive at night.
Personally, I think Uber (and Lyft) are the best ideas of the new millennium. Unlike taxis who aren’t inclined to show up for short hauls, Uber is relentlessly reliable. Over the years I’ve given many elderly women rides home from the supermarket after the cab that the store manager has called for them failed to show up. Normally these women would never have gotten into a car with someone they didn’t know but by the time they’ve been sitting on a folding chair for two hours watching their groceries thaw, stranger murder doesn’t sound too bad. But now there’s Uber.  My whole outlook on aging has changed knowing I will not have to be a supermarket folding chair lady.
And Uber has so many applications! I love to tell the story of my son and daughter-in-law going to a dinner party in L.A. and forgetting the chocolate soufflé that my daughter-in-law, a fabulous cook, had promised to bring for dessert. My son thought he’d end up missing the whole party while he drove back home in L.A. Friday night traffic to retrieve it. But in an inspired moment, he sent an Uber car to his home where the babysitter handed off the soufflé to the driver who delivered it to the dinner party. (For the record, the soufflé gave the driver five stars.)
So now I’m second guessing myself.  Am I TOO chatty? Should I be sitting in the front seat?  Usually I automatically climb in the back except for one time this past December when my uber-friendly woman Uber driver with the heavy Southern accent patted the front seat as I got in and said, “Come sit up here with me, honey!”  Learning that I was headed to a medical center for a scary test, she suddenly raised her head skyward (I was kind of wishing she’d keep her eyes on the road), and began a prayer for me that lasted pretty much the whole trip.  “Lord Jesus, I am here with your servant Inga and I pray that in your infinite wisdom you will spare her!”  (I figured I could use all the help I could get.) But then the prayer took an ominous turn: “But it’s all up to you, Lord, so if you should decide it’s Inga’s time to join you in heaven then—“
WTF?  “Wait!” I said. “Stop talking!” As far as I was concerned, we were good with amen-ing after the sparing part. And fortunately, I was indeed spared. (That driver got the War & Peace of good comments from me.)
So why don’t I have a perfect 5?  Could it be about the tip? (Or lack thereof?)  I confess I do tip sometimes but not always. Uber makes such a big deal about not needing to tip. And it really IS nice not to have to be carrying bills in tip denominations. (Like most people, I live by my debit card.) But maybe this was at least one driver’s way of expressing his unhappiness that I live in La Jolla and couldn’t cough up a tip, my sparkling personality notwithstanding.
I’ve even tried to figure out the math of my 4.89. Was it just one driver who really just wished I’d shut up and gave me a 2? Or maybe a couple of mildly tip-disgruntled 4’s?  But now that I know my score I’ll be rigorously checking my rating after every ride. Goes down and that driver is toast. I have a reputation to maintain.


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