Probably the most interesting thing to happen around here in the past few weeks (besides birthdays, which really aren’t mine to tell anymore) is my new income stream as an Uber driver. If you haven’t heard of Uber yet (or Lyft, or Sidecar), it is a ride-sharing service. Uber provides an interface and payment system between people who have cars and people who need rides. Ideally, Uber in particular likes to place itself as a “private driver” service rather than just “giving a friend a ride,” requiring that drivers not have others in the car and recommending minimum standards in dress and car care. I must say that the incentive of getting paid means my car is now nicer than it has ever been. I think my father would be impressed!
For riders, this means the ability to call for a ride anytime, anywhere, at the touch of an app screen. When signing up, riders give their payment information to Uber. When they need a ride, they open up the app and put a ride request out. A driver accepts the request and picks them up. When they are dropped off, Uber automatically transfers the ride fee to the driver. No cash, no credit cards, and usually very little wait time.
For drivers, we can set our own hours and work as much or as little as we want. We get paid automatically, and Uber also provides fees to cover cleaning expenses if, say, some drunk pukes in the car. For me, this means I can take activities that I would normally do sitting on the couch or in front of the computer, like small knitting projects or studying, and I can do them in my car while waiting for a ride. Nothing lost time-wise, and a potential gain in income–a win-win for me!
If I were to take take away from something else to go sit and wait for rides, I would have to pick carefully when I wanted to head out. But so far I am driving in the evenings when I would be knitting or studying anyway, or when my kids are in hours-long activities where I would be wasting time and gas to drive home and drive back into town anyway. Not to mention I absolutely love to drive, especially now that I finally have a stick shift, so I am having an absolute blast, and so far I’m making enough to help pay for the extra expenses associated with this latest vehicle acquisition.
Security issues are also taken care of by the system. Although riders and drivers are anonymous to each other (even our phone numbers are screened through the Uber system when phoning and texting each other), we are most definitely not anonymous to Uber. If I had a passenger become a security issue, Uber would know exactly who they were, and the same in reverse if a passenger felt unsafe riding with me. In addition, riders and drivers get to rate each other. A good ride should always get 5 stars, or maybe 4 at a minimum, unless there are obvious issues with cleanliness, driver knowledge, or driving skills. Drivers whose ratings start to fall will have riders refuse to take rides with them, and they can eventually be kicked off the system by Uber.
I am really excited to finally have something that I can do, that I enjoy doing, that has super-flexible hours that I can work around family and church and school obligations, and that looks like it will bring in enough extra money each month to really ease the financial stress we’ve been under the past couple of years since I had to quit my last part-time job. So if you want a ride, sign up with Uber. You can use my promo code “2iscu” for a $20 credit for your first ride. And if you want to drive, too, just let me know and I’ll get you hooked up.