Today, driving for Uber sucks. The pay is too low and the customers are not great. With the global pandemic, business is down a lot. This post highlights what it was like driving for Uber back in 2016, when it was all the side-hustle range.
What’s It Like Driving For Uber? Mixed Emotions Of Hope And Sadness
I never planned to drive for Uber. It just happened. When I pulled up to a gas station to fill up Rhino, my 2015 Honda Fit, there was a fella setting up a tent that promoted a free $50 gas card if I signed up to become a driver.
“No obligation to drive!” he tempted me, so I figured why not. With gas prices rebounding from their lows, what used to cost me only about $26 to fill up now cost $35. Moose, my old 2000 Land Rover Discover II sucked down $80 – $100 a tank, so in comparison $35 isn’t so bad.
After uploading my driver’s license, registration, and inspection form, I waited to get a confirmation via text or e-mail. Twenty-four hours later and nothing. I went back to the nearby gas station the next day and asked what was up? He said he didn’t know, and that I should e-mail support. So I did. He gave me another $50 gas card for my troubles. And then another $50 gas card for referring my friend in my passenger seat. YES! Who doesn’t love free money baby?!
Several days later, I finally heard back from Uber via e-mail, and they said they had wrongly entered my information. But if I simply logged in and re-uploaded everything again, all would be fine. When I logged into my account via my laptop it said, “Get a $100 bonus if you go down to the driver center at 130 Vermont Street to get everything set up.” So instead of re-uploading everything myself with no guarantees, I just went down to the driving center given I planned to be close by anyway.
After about 10 minutes of paperwork, the inspector said I was good to go. “All you’ve got to do is download the Uber partner app, take a selfie, and Go Online! After your 10th ride, you’ll get a $100 bonus for coming down to the driving center, and another $300 bonus after your 20th ride for signing up via our gas station promotion.“
Wow! $400 worth of bonuses plus another $150 in gas cards. So that’s where Uber is spending all their billions raised. The offer was too tempting to not try things out. Now let me share with you my first Uber passenger experience, some earnings figures, and the emotions I experienced over the next couple of weeks driving.
MY FIRST UBER PASSENGER
In general, I’m relatively fearless when it comes to trying new things. But I felt more anxiety than I have in a really long time during the moments right before I pressed the “Go Online” button in the Uber Partner app. I likened the feeling to being the new kid on his first day of school. Exciting, but scary!
Within three minutes of going online, my phone starting beeping for a pickup. Of course, I was inconveniently on one side of Van Ness Avenue, a busy three lane road, and she was on the other side. After five minutes of wasteful navigation, I picked up a woman in her early 40s standing outside of Rhino’s home, The Honda Dealer. It was am.
I welcomed her into my car and re-confirmed her destination address she inputted into the app. It was important to be sure we were going where she wanted and buy myself as much time as possible to process everything as a newbie. The Uber driver’s center mentioned that every passenger rates their driver from 1 – 5 stars, and that if I fell below a 4.6, I’d be put on probation or removed. With the first rider, everything was at stake!