Archive for September, 2017

Hollywood. Tuesday. Crazy Uber Drivers.

September 27, 2017

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I have a theory about almost everything. I’m adding Uber to the list right now. I encountered two weird drivers tonight.

For the record: Most drivers have been amazing, and I respect what they do. Driving in LA is stressful and most of them handle it with calm and cool conversation.

But not tonight.

The first one stopped across the road from me on Hollywood Blvd – clearly nowhere near my pin. Fine – shit happens. But he hung up the call I made to ask if I should cross the road, then rage-drove around the block to get me. As I got in, he told me I sent him to the wrong place. He was an old guy – the kinda old guy who probably contacts me on dating apps to say he’s “one of the good ones”, which is almost always a sign that he’s been divorced five times and his kids hate him.

He was so obnoxious when I tried to make fun of the app and diffuse it all that I asked him to pull over and canceled the ride.

I walked a while to chill myself out. Passed this:

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So some tourist didn’t like the joke. The shitty thing about Hollywood Blvd is it has some of the best bars, but some of the stupidest people… which is a dangerous combination.

I called a new Uber from a half mile South.

The ride started fairly well, though the guy was hard to get off message. When I said I shouldn’t have gone out to a friend’s birthday party because I should have worked, he informed me I’d regret it because friends all betrayed you eventually, like his bros before ‘ho’s buddy whose wife had ruined their friendship.

Via him asking me about my accent (standard Uber chat) he wandered on to talking about Hawaii, and we agreed they were clever when it came to many policies. But, somehow, that led to him saying we didn’t need another president from Hawaii. Too laid back, he said. Achieved nothing. I was surprised to hear this, having been here through most of Obama’s presidency. He asked me to list one thing Obama achieved.

Gay marriage? Not starting a new war? Fixing the financial crisis?

These were all rejected, because apparently the gays get the credit for marriage because they’re rich. And the war thing… he didn’t want to talk about that. And the Financial Crisis? Not that either. Instead, he aggressively repeated the question. I asked why my opinion wasn’t welcome. He repeated the question. I felt like I was 10 with some bully guy holding me against the back-of-the-school wall.

When I tried to shut up for a while, he said that the reason blacks in the USA get nowhere is that they “…don’t come with money – they come with their hands out, saying they were slaves. Yeah I get you were slaves, but I’m Native American and I got nothing.” I made a noise that indicated I wasn’t sure that was logical. I began to say I thought “Black Lives Matter, which I support, was partly a result of the–” and he again demanded to know what Obama achieved.

Given that the man driving weighs about 300 pounds and I… well that’s not for public consumption but MUCH less… I got a bit scared. But I thought I’d steer the conversation away from his now-obvious racism and said: “What about Healthcare”.

He scorned this – claimed only 20 million Americans have healthcare through Obamacare. I tried to explain that he had his figures mixed up with his facts. That’s the number that would lose it with Trumpcare. People have already lost faith and defaulted, but the number is still much higher. (I checked – 38 million).

He shouted me down. Then he told me that as a South African I couldn’t possibly know anything. He was Native American, and by being born here, knew things I didn’t. I said that I tried very had to be informed – and that he clearly wasn’t, not on this issue.

“We don’t care about facts”, he said. This seemed racist against Native Americans to me but I managed not to point that out.

Then, he accused me of supporting apartheid. That’s when I lost my cool a little and said that he was unprofessional.

He said he didn’t care. He kept ranting. I shut up… mostly… I may have pointed out that having a political discussion should involve some facts, and that if he didn’t have any or didn’t know how to politely disagree, he shouldn’t start a conversation about politics with a customer.

As I left the left the car in a hurry not quite home, he shouted “Bitch” out the window of his car.

So sometimes, diffusing conflicts isn’t my thing? But I tried. And failed.

My promised theory about Uber? Demand for drivers is so high that literally anyone who has the right car and applies gets the gig. Even people you’d avoid in a dark alleyway do. I do want people with criminal records to have an option because I know people who have changed after doing pretty hectic stuff, but I’m not sure they should get it without an interview, and some vetting.

CORRECTION: A friend who drives for Uber says there is screening. According to this article that doesn’t mean they’re fingerprinted. Not sure how this compares to Lyft – they do both require abackground chck though.

I still wish I’d paid the double-fee for Lyft. I’ve never had this kind of experience in a Lyft – if that’s a fluke, I’ll keep hoping its a permanent one.