Personal Essays Travel

My Uber Rating Obsession

2016-09-26-04-26-39I didn’t even know Uber drivers rate their clients until I was told by my daughter, Sarah (about whom I am not allowed to blog). I’m not sure how it came up, but I was intrigued. She put her fiancé on the phone and he walked me through the process of finding out what my rating is.

“Oh, I see it now,” I said when I finally understood. “My rating is 3.68. Is that good?”

Pause. The kind of long pause that tells you your soon-to-be son-in-law is trying to make sure he doesn’t alienate you before he and his bride even walk down the aisle. Or maybe he was in shock because I’m the nicest person he knows and he couldn’t believe I had a rating of 3.68. I choose the latter of the two.

“Well, no actually, it’s not great. It’s out of 5, and I haven’t heard of one that low, to be honest.”

That was a few months ago, and since that time I have become obsessed. Obsessed, I tell you.

I check my rating after each and every time I take an Uber, which can be five or six times a day when I’m in New York City. And still, it stays the same. Okay, it went up one tenth of a point, but that just doesn’t seem fair to me. I am a great Uber rider. Seriously.

Here is the thing: I often take Uber from the Upper West Side to Downtown. They always want to weave over to the West Side Highway and go down that way and then weave back on over to the Sixth Avenue cross street that I might be going to. Not a good plan in my book. Or, if I’m heading to the east side, they want to go down to Columbus Circle to go over to 57th and Third, while I prefer to go through Central Park at 65th Street and head over that way.

Did you see Broadcast News? Holly Hunter has just had her heart broken and she gets in the car and tells the cab driver how to get to where she is headed and then goes back to crying. When I saw the film I totally understood that moment, while my friends all wondered, “Who would do that?” I’m a New Yorker, and I know how to maneuver through traffic, and politely suggesting the route I would like to take seems to be well within the bounds of good ridership. As is politely asking them to turn off the radio while I think during the ride. And politely asking them to hang up the phone so as not to endanger our lives while I’m in the car seems reasonable to me. So why don’t they like me?

Shonda Rhimes taught me in her book, The Year of Yes, not to care what anyone thinks. The total absurdity of this entire thing is that I have really stopped caring so much what friends and family think, and I do focus more and more on what I think. But when it comes to Uber, I have set in motion some really crazy shit to try to improve my rating. Is it because I don’t like having a D– in Uber ridership?

Here are just a few of the things I now do when I’m in an Uber:
· I now bring treats and offer them to the driver. Yep. Treats. Water bottles and the like.
· I ask them how their day is going. Now, I do hope they don’t really want to chat with me, but if they do,     I am better than Oprah at helping them through their day.
· I was giving them all great ratings and comments, even if they didn’t deserve them, until I found out         they can’t see what I do, so now I’m not doing that. I am relieved to be able to go back to being             authentic.
· I wish them a happy life when I’m getting out of the car, each and every time.

I write this in hopes of going back to the old me who was always trying to help the Uber driver get me where I’m going swiftly, efficiently, and safely. Yep, intention matters, and I’m leaving my rating behind. I’m not going to look at it ever again. And I’m losing the treats, which mostly I was eating myself anyway.

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