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Uber Good! - My first Uber ride
by Amy Kenneley

When you realize that driving at night-- especially on roads you are not too familiar with-- is not such a good idea anymore, you have a few choices.

  1. You can stay home
  2. You can have someone else drive
  3. You can take public transportation
  4. You can call a cab.

I had used the first choice a lot. Stay home. Don't go to that event. Watch reruns on TV.

Choice two depended on whether a friend was also headed to the same event. Friends are kind enough to include me on whatever night-time jaunt we plan.

With choice three, I realized that public transporation stops at the county line, and inside my county, it ends at early hours. So planning to go to something after dinnertime wouldn't work.

With choice four I had found through trial and error that it was really expensive to move around easily.

But I was not about to go back to TV reruns, not when an event was on the calendar that was not to be missed. What to do?

I had heard of this driving service called Uber, but had never tried it. The app for Uber was on my phone, and after experimenting with it, I discovered that it was easier than I had imagined.

First, I entered my personal information: name, address, and mode of payment. Money is not exchanged between rider and driver, the pre-registration makes you "vetted" to ask for a ride. I had a chance to preview what my ride from here to there would cost, and it still seemed a bit pricey.

Then I realized that I was crossing a county line, and perhaps if I placed myself inside that line, it would be less expensive. I entered a different pick-up spot instead of my home address. I entered the address of a business in a shopping center just inside the county line-one I was familiar with. I could easily navigate there in the dark and back home again in the even darker!

So, I drove to my shopping spot and placed a pick-up request. Within a minute, I was answered on my phone with a photo of the driver, driver's name, and approximate minutes until I was picked up.

Right on time, my driver arrived. I climbed in and off we went. Along the way of the hour ride, we chatted. My driver was a woman who also had a job caring for folks in an assisted living setting. She also had children to raise, and she was ambitious. She had only been driving for Uber for a few months, and she was learning a lot about how to get around the city.

When I stepped out of her car, I asked her if I would get her on my way back home. "What time are you thinking?" she asked.

"Oh, I might make it to 11 pm." I decided.

She laughed. "I'll be in bed by 9, so it won't be me!"

Then I laughed, too. "I might be in bed by then, too!"

Guess I knew I wouldn't last till eleven-it was closer to 9:30 when I came out to the street for my ride home.

This time, I had trouble getting the settings correct for a pick-up, but a valet at the hotel entrance helped me push the right buttons and confirmed that a ride was coming. It was just a minute until the driver's photo, name, and pick-up time showed.I hardly had time to thank the valet when up came the Uber driver and off we went.

This time I had a man, who was a proud grandpa, and had been on 7 cruises with his wife. He loved the Caribbean, and thought if he ever won the lottery he would "live on the beach!" But until that day came, he used his retirement hours profitably by making himself available to drive for Uber.

We talked about grandchildren, the Indians game that had just been won, and the "state of the city" in general. We also riffed on the dinner I had just eaten at the event, and laughed. All too soon we were at the shopping center where I had left my car. "I'll drive you around until you spot it," he offered. What's the make and model?"

"uh, it's silver?"

When I got in, and started for the drive down the road to home, I found I was behind his car at the light. He got out and called to me, "Turn your headlights on!" Oops.

By the time I drove home and had pulled into the garage, the Uber receipt was totaled on the phone. The amount was very reasonable. Shortly thereafter a "how did we do?" message popped up. I gave full marks for all categories: cleanliness of car, knowing directions, timeliness, courtesy. I ticked off all the questions with a yes.

So my first Uber experience is over. I admit I was a little anxious about the procedure, but it proved easier than I thought. I find that, like most new experiences, my fear to do something different is greater then the reality.

My only criticism would be to post a photo of the car as well, because the brief make and model letters given were not a help, to me at least. I'm better with colors.

I think my last driver must have known that, because after I answered, "Uh, it's silver?" he slowed waaaaaaaaaaay down, crawling each row for the one silver car in a lot full of silver cars.

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