Tag Archives: uber problems

Behind the Wheel 2: Notes from an Uber/Lyft – The New Zine

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From the trenches of San Francisco’s sharing economy: another rideshare confessional zine

Behind the Wheel 2 includes more insight into the day-to-day travails of a rideshare driver in San Francisco, more stories about driving drunks, switching from Lyft to Uber, a visit to Uber HQ, self-entitled douchebags, talk of gentrification and displacement, the tech boom, public debauchery, emotional breakdowns, police activity and the constant threat of pukers.


56pp. | Wraparound cover | Illustrated | Staple bound | $5.00 postpaid

Order the print version through Etsy or PayPal.

A PDF or ePub Download is available for 99 cents through Etsy!

(For PayPal, click here.)



EXCERPTS:

To Uber Or Not To Uber

A Day in the Life of a Rideshare Driver

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Table of Contents:
Emperor Caveat
To Uber or Not to Uber
A Day in the Life of a Rideshare Driver (PDF)
The Wrong Bush and Mason
Gun on the Street
Infinite Douchebaggery
The Polk Gulch Vortex
Another Wasted Night
The Leather Man

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What is a zine?

A zine (/ˈziːn/ zeen; an abbreviation of fanzine, or magazine) is most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier. — via Wikipedia

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Behind the Wheel 2 debuted at the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest:

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The Uber You Reap Is The Uber You Sow

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I never thought it would happen, but I’m officially sick of reading about Uber. When I mentioned this to the Wife, she quickly replied, “Now you know how I feel.” Fair enough. I have been somewhat obsessed with Uber and Lyft. I’m a driver. It’s hard not to think (and blog) about the injustices we face every day at the hands of these two companies.

Since I first considered driving back in December of 2013, I’ve been reading every article about ridesharing that has crossed my Facebook and Twitter feeds. And since March, when I finally took the plunge and got behind the wheel, I’ve joined all the driver groups I could find and followed numerous sites and writers who cover ridesharing.

Needless to say, I was not shocked by the latest Uber scandal, when vice-president Emil Michael’s suggestion that they hire reporters of their own to go after reporters who are critical of Uber. Just another day following the Uber train of disaster.

Since then, the articles, tweets, updates and blog posts about this incident have been nonstop. Seriously, I’ve reached maximum Uber overload. Can we just go on to the next scandal already? I’m sure there will be more…

Granted, this one is pretty horrendous. If I were Sarah Lacy, the designated target of this doxx campaign, I’d be furious. Livid. Outraged. Pissed the fucked off! Everybody should be. It’s bad. Real bad.

So bad that people are now deleting their Uber accounts. Going so far as to figure out how to permanently remove their data from Uber’s servers. Because, surprise, surprise, Uber doesn’t just go away when you delete the app from your phone. Uber stores your information for “legitimate business purposes.”

Yeah right.

Well, people, before you feel high and mighty because you’ve deleted the app and possibly gone as far as to contact Uber and have your data removed, think about this: it’s your fault.

What Emil Michael said was unconscionable. But it wouldn’t have happened if all these loyal Uber users weren’t so happy to play along with their disruptive business model. It’s not that shocking when you think about all the shit Uber has done before.

The drivers know. We’ve been fighting with Uber for a while now. But nobody cares about us. Or our puny little problems. But attack that venerable institution of online reporting and the OUTRAGE! The HORROR! OH MY FUCKING GOD! BRING ME THE HEAD OF EMIL MICHAEL!!!

So let’s see…

And much, much more

With Uber, there’s always more. These are the incidents that popped up in my mind as I bashed out this blog post. But do I really need to go on?

All that is chill, but when they threaten to dig up dirt on a reporter, people freak the fuck out and delete the app?

Come on! What did you expect from a company that has done all these shady things? And no doubt has many more shady things in the works. (UberScholar, anyone?) Yeah.

Everybody sat back and let it happen. You fed the Uber monster. And now that monster is so big, it doesn’t matter if a few users delete the app. It’s too late for Uber’s comeuppance. You created this monster. It’s here to stay.

And don’t get me wrong: Fuck Uber. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see this behemoth fail. Even if that means getting a new source of income. As Hector the dishwasher told me many years ago, “I was looking for a job when I found this one…”

So delete away, folks. But when you click that “Delete” button, maybe have at least a little consideration for all the other Uber victims. And the drivers. We do matter. Just a little bit, right?

Ten Consequences of Driving for Uber and Lyft

After seven months of driving full time for Lyft and Uber, these are ten things that make me dread going into driver mode:

1. Vehicle Depreciation

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Besides passengers slamming my doors, which has caused a mysterious rattle, scuffing my interior, leaving behind trash and generally making the kinds of messes you’d expect from a two year old, there is also mechanical wear and tear. The more I drive, the more things go wrong with my car. I figure I have about two more months until I need new brakes and tires. And then my rideshare days are over. I just don’t make enough from driving for Uber and Lyft to afford to keep driving for Uber and Lyft.

2. Boot Malfunction

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My right boot is more worn than the left. To be fair, this may have more to do with my bony heels, but it’s not something I ever noticed until I had to keep my foot on the gas and brake pedals for hours at a time.

3. Physical Discomfort

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My neck is like an open wound. No doubt from glancing over my shoulder as I switch lanes in traffic all night long, always diligent to keep an eye on my blind spots, as well as the other cars on the road, speeding bicyclists, impatient cab drivers and cavalier pedestrians. As a result, the muscles that run along my jaw are steel rods. I have very little radius when I turn my head left or right. The tension never goes away. There is a real possibility that I may have some dislocated vertebrae. My joints hurt. My right ankle has a creak in it. And I have a chronic case of hemorrhoids. No matter how much ointment I apply, they remain perpetually enflamed. I noticed once, when I was a Lyft passenger, that my driver had a hemorrhoid pillow on his seat. I may need to acquire one of those in the near future…

4. Spousal Neglect

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Since I’m out late driving on the weekends, the Wife’s home alone. And she’s not happy about it. I’ve tried driving during the weekdays, but the gridlocked traffic makes getting anywhere in the city a chore. It’s not worth the frustration. I spend more time driving to the pinned locations than I do taking passengers where they need to go. And the only time you can get surge pricing is on weekend nights. And holidays. Or special events. So…

5. Fear of Deactivation

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Nobody enjoys being judged. But constantly feeling threatened with “deactivation” is downright humiliating. The rating system employed by Lyft and Uber focuses on only one aspect of a driver’s performance: passenger satisfaction. And it’s not easy making people happy. Even when the ride has gone perfectly, there’s never a guarantee the passenger is satisfied. All it takes is one drunk passenger on a power trip and you’re deactivated.

6. Erratic Sleep

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I work late and come home late. But I can’t sleep late because my head is filled with dreams about my Lyft summary, which is the only way to find out what I made the day before and what’s happened to my rating. Sometimes the summary is in my inbox before I wake up. Other days the email doesn’t arrive until the afternoon. With Uber you know, for the most part, what you’ve made at the end of each ride. And your rating is updated in the app as feedback is left. So at least you’re disappointed in real time.

7. Misanthropic Tendencies

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After a while, you really start to hate people. I’ve met some really great folks in my car, but I’ve also encountered a lot of stinkers. People that I’d rather see under my front tire than in my front seat. But I have to maintain a sunny disposition and be accommodating to my passengers or risk a negative rating. Not an easy task when some passengers are just straight up assholes. They input the wrong location. They make you wait. They ignore you. They talk down to you. They say racist and sexist things in your car. Your only retaliation is to rate THEM low. Which doesn’t amount to much since it’s unlikely Uber or Lyft would ever deactivate a passenger’s account. I guess we should just be grateful our passengers act like self-entitled douchebags rather than punching us or holding guns to our heads.

8. Paranoia

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Every time I go out to drive, I say a prayer that nothing bad happens. I can’t shake the nagging sensation that if something goes wrong, I’ll be fucked. Uber and Lyft tells us to use our personal insurance in the event of an accident. But our insurance won’t cover any damages since we’re engaged in commercial activity. So what’s the point of having personal insurance to do rideshare? Not that things would be better with the insurance companies Uber and Lyft use. I’ve read numerous reports from drivers who’ve been in accidents and had to crowd source funds to get their cars fixed. Or just being left in the lurch. We are hardly protected under normal circumstances, but what if we’re at fault? Oh, the horror… And with Uber, there’s no support number. We can only email them afterwards. On top of all that, both Uber and Lyft charge us a deductible. So if we are covered, we still pay out of pocket, even if we aren’t at fault.

9. Monetary Deficiencies

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Because of the price wars, as Uber and Lyft fight it out to determine who will be the preeminent rideshare platform, drivers are getting squeezed more and more. The rates just keep going down. As it is, I’m broke as hell. My credit cards are all maxed out, most of the time my bank account is overdrawn and I have a painful toothache I can’t afford to fix. Not to mention taxes… I don’t want to even think about what I’m going to do when it’s time to pay taxes.

10. Self-loathing

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If you’ve made it this far on my list of rideshare consequences, you might be wondering why I don’t just quit. I know it’s stupid to complain about something you can’t control. And I know it’s my own damn fault. I bought into the promise of ridesharing as an alternative source of income with a good amount of freedom and it turned out to be a lie. I fell for the classic switcheroo. I’m an idiot. So why don’t I just get on with my life? Well, that day is coming. Without a doubt. For now, the hell I know is better than the one I don’t. And I like driving. I like meeting people. I like exploring the streets of San Francisco. But there’s no future in ridesharing for drivers. Hell, the way things are going, there won’t be a future for taxi drivers either.