I feel like there has been a big part of my travel life that has been largely excluded to this point.
I know there are Uber lovers and Uber haters out there, but I happen to be one of the former.
When I travel to places such as NYC and DC, where you will never catch me behind the wheel of a car, dealing with all those whirling dervishes others call traffic, I become, quite literally, an Uber VIP. I love them, and they, in turn love me.
I know people who are like, “yeah, but if you take an Uber, you have to like, talk, to your driver”. Gasp!! Anything but that!
I actually like talking to my drivers. I have had a great many fascinating conversations in Ubers. And don’t even think about challenging me to Uber trivia. You will lose.
I’ve also had my share of odd Uber drivers. Like the guy who wanted to stop for a bottle of wine. Or the ones who have wanted me to drag my bags 5 city blocks so they don’t have to go around the block.
But my driver to the airport last week may have claimed the Number 1 worst spot.
I should have known I was in trouble when I put in my pick up spot as the hotel I was staying at, and instead of pulling up to the front door, as most normal people would do, he pulls over at the end of the block and sits there, evidently waiting for me to come to him.
The doorman and I spend a few moments debating on whether that is my car, and then he runs down the block and tells my driver to pull up and get me. He pulls up, pops the trunk, and leaves me to fend for my own bags. Okay, fair enough. Women’s equality and feminism and all that. I can toss a bag in the trunk with the best of them.
I settle myself in the back seat, and we take off for the airport. Or at least this is what I assume, as that is what I entered as my destination.
Now, I will admit, that I do not always pay very much attention when in the back of an Uber. If my driver is not the talkative type, or I just don’t feel like talking, I may just settle in and surf my phone. Or nap. Or whatever. And I hadn’t slept very well all week, so I just tucked in and was staring rather blankly out the window. After about 10 minutes of what should have been a 20 min drive, at the most, something started nudging the back of my brain, and I started to focus on the scenery outside the window.
Which is when I realized I had already seen this scenery about 5 min or so ago.
Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I decided now was a good time to engage my driver in conversation.
“Ummm, we are going to the airport, right?”
“Yes. That’s where you want to go, yes?”
“I do, but is this the way to get there? I’m pretty sure we just went in one big circle”
“I’m just following my GPS” He waves the phone in his hand emphatically for effect.
“Are you sure you didn’t miss a turn or something? Because we’ve driven by this building twice now”
“Do you know how to get there? You have directions?”
He did have me there. I can be rather directionally challenged. And I do live in a place where we have big mountains by which all navigation occurs. Take me away from those and north, south, east and west take way more brain power to decipher.
“Well, no. I’m not from here. But I’m pretty sure we have to cross the river at some point. And not keep driving by the same building”
“I just follow my GPS! Maybe it re-routing because of traffic”
Now I have spent a lot of time in NYC lately. I know traffic. We were not in traffic.
I decide to play along. But now I am watching his GPS.
We approach the river again. The GPS is very clearly telling us to go left to cross the bridge.
We go right.
And start the circle again.
“Ok. I’m pretty sure we were supposed to go left there, and that’s what the GPS said. I think maybe I should navigate now.” I pull out my phone and start to pull up my maps.
“Ok, fine. You want to do it. Fine”
“While I’m getting this pulled up, why don’t you turn here, and head across the bridge.” This much I can figure out without my map.
So we finally make it across the bridge. Where his GPS and a HUGE sign say to keep right for the airport. Which way do we go?
You got it. Left!
And end up in the line of cars heading into Arlington Cemetery.
I realize I didn’t get a lot of sleep and may have been looking a little rough, but I really thought with a little makeup and some body work that morning, I was still passing for a live person. Not someone who needed to be taken to the cemetery.
And not only that, but my driver is literally just sitting in the line to proceed into the cemetery.
Now I am flabbergasted and more than a little irritated.
“What are we doing?? This is definitely not going to take us to the airport! This is a cemetery”
“I don’t know! I just go where it says! I..”
“Ok, well first, you need to go out that exit right there and get us back on the highway”
At least he seemed to listen to me better than the GPS.
We make it back to the highway.
“Now we just need to follow the signs. They are everywhere!”
Not that I trusted that for a minute. I still told him every turn to take.
“Can I just make one suggestion? If you are wanting to drive an Uber, I would suggest you at least learn the way to the airport.”
“I know the way to the airport!”
Of course he did. My mistake. Cemetery, airport. Easily confused.
Believe it or not, we finally made it to the airport, and I didn’t miss my flight.
If only the story ended there.
I am never anxious to leave feedback for my Uber drivers, and most times never do until the next time I request a car.
Not this time.
As soon as I dropped off my bag, I was on my phone to leave feedback on this ride.
Except my lovely driver hadn’t ended my trip and was still driving around on my dime. Probably trying to find his way out of the airport.
I text him and said “Ummm.. You need to end my trip”
I keep checking. For the next 15 min. Until he finally ended the trip.
And charged me about $10 more than it should have been.
I gave him a very good rating. And left a very long feedback message. My hope is he will not be long for the Uber world.
But despite all this, I am still an Uber lover.