So, This Whole Uber Thing…

I’m not gonna lie.

I use it.

I really love it.

But, it does have me thinking lately.

Especially after my early morning ride to work with Jerry today.

And here’s what I can’t shake.  This is quickly changing our country.  But, as much as I love it, I’m not sure that it’s changing it for the better.  At least in the long term.  And no one seems to be giving a thought to the long range picture of America.

The things that concern me?

I am a frequent user, however, I don’t meet a lot of drivers that have been doing this long at all.  Universally, they tend to love the whole “set your own hours, be your own boss” thing.  Because:  America, obvs.  So, no career longevity.

I meet a lot of older drivers who are either tired of the jobs they had for decades or whose jobs evaporated in the tech industry focus that our country has been clamoring toward.  How did their jobs evaporate?  Robotics.  Apps.  Everything in between.  Oh, my.

Then there’s those millennials, whose collective work ethic is…oh, abysmal isn’t the right word.  I don’t want to say anything that could be construed as praise by those folks.

All that has what I think are the ingredients for a huge disaster in our financial culture.

Let’s look at those points again.

At my new job, I have said on more than one occasion that our staff has either been there for 15 years or for 15 minutes.  It’s not an optimal staffing situation.  Nor is the Uber model, where more often than not, their drivers come from the 15 minute pool.  I think that what – at least partially – accounts for this observation of mine is what I’ve heard from former Uber drivers:  the money isn’t as good as they were led to believe once everything nets out:  gas, car payment and insurance are the commonly griped about expenses that allegedly net their earnings down to about $11/hour.  My driver this morning was cavalierly mentioning that he’s clearing about $300/day in fares and that sounds pretty good, right?

Except…

My second point about a lot of the drivers being older?  Yeah…that’s a nice way of saying that Jerry doesn’t fully understand how this works.  I’m not sure anyone does.  Myself included.

I used to know.

Now I only think I know.

What I recall was that the initial drop rate was $5.  Of that, the driver got $4 and Uber got a single.  That covered the initial minimum distance rate, regardless of whether you just went a few blocks or went further and ventured into fare territory, after which there was a split between the driver and Uber.  I think it was 80/20, but that’s putting a lot of stock in my old brain and it really doesn’t matter since now I’ve been told that the financials have changed in favor of Uber.  Also, that I should be tipping my drivers.

I’m choosing to stay old school here, I joined when tipping wasn’t a thing and I would like to blissfully remain in that gratuity-free zone.

But back to old Jerry.  The fella who told me that he’d been working since 6 a.m. Monday during our 3 a.m. drive on Tuesday.

Check, please.

Damn if Jerry wasn’t a chatty old bastard, though.  He went on to tell me that he’d been driving since April of this year.  He’d bought his car used for the purpose of driving for Uber.  He’d put a new windshield on the car, new tires, done some engine-y stuff…I’m sitting in the back wondering what the hell was right with this car when he got it.  Declaring at the end of his laundry list “…and it’s all tax deductible!”

Oh, it is?

Even the business license is tax deductible, he tells me.

I ask if his accountant confirmed that and he replies that he hasn’t gotten one yet, but he’s saving those receipts, yo.  I’m mentally crossing my fingers that he’s right, but he’s already moved on to how I should try UberEats.  Telling me how cool it is and that he took Thai food from a restaurant over in SW to a Thai guy over in NoPo – “ten miles away!” he exclaims – and that he should try and remember it so that he can go there, cuz if a Thai guy wanted it that bad, it must be good!

Ok, where to start with this?

First, it’s a non-job.  It’s an adult paper route.  Driving for Uber or its app ilk is as real a job as videoblogger…VLoggers.  Do not get me started.

I agree with him that it must be good food if the guy is willing to pay for an Uber ride for his Lemongrass Chicken.  A ten mile Uber ride is about $8, so that’s gotta be quite a taste sensation in my book.  Also, it’s the reason I have not tried UberEats yet, which I tell him.  “Oh, nononono…the restaurant calls the Uber!  The customer doesn’t pay anything extra.” he says.

Really

“So, the restaurant books the ride, huh?”  I ask, still not believing that’s quite right based on what I’ve witnessed in the – get this – Thai restaurant in the ground floor space of my building while I’m waiting to grab my take out from them.  I mean, there appears to be an iPad that they use for the ordering, but I think they’re just logged into the UberEats app so that when someone orders through the app they get the order.

But I don’t need to know, I’m not the middle aged guy making that millennial money grab.  That would be Jerry, who doesn’t seem to have arrived at the conclusion that cooking one’s own food has been a diminishing art since…oh, Betty Crocker got a microwave in the late 70s.  I’m guilty of eating out more than I cook for myself, I’ve got the waistline to prove it, too.  But when I do resolve to cook at home, I tend to toss out a lot of rotten food.

can cook, I just choose to not.  I think most millennials were raised in a household with one parent or two working parents and probably never even learned how to cook.  They didn’t even have Home Ec like I did in Junior High.  Nor did they have the parents that pushed them to do something besides play video games like mine did.  Ok, my parents pushed me to stop reading, doing homework and watching Gilligan’s Island and Bewitched reruns – key word there, BTW – and go outside and play like a normal kid.

Yeah, I took Home Ec.  Shut up.  Is that really all you took away from the last paragraph?

So, here we have Jerry, blissfully under aware of the fact that people using UberEats have more money than domestic skill or even gumption.  Which is sad, because these people are the kids of the people who engineered the robotics that put him out of a job in the first place and landed him in an Uber at age 54.  Those kids are also the people who designed the apps that he is currently deriving his income from.  They have basically begun a movement that could enslave the older humans.

How’s that for irony?

These people with absent parents that either didn’t challenge them to “get outside and play” like mine or were too busy chauffeuring their kids around to extracurricular activities to spend time teaching them life skills in order to be able to survive in the world outside of their parent’s basement…well, now these kids are turning around and basically putting their parent’s generation to work driving them home when they’re drunk or fetching them dinner…since they never taught them to fend for themselves.

Then again, I could be way wrong and this whole “old peeps driving for Uber and Instacart” thing could take the pressure off of the post-boomer generations and our reliance on a draining Social Security system until the American culture simply goes extinct because millennials just weren’t able to muster up the initiative required to procreate…whatever, Jerry was one happy motherfucker.  His pre-dawn energy and chattiness – not that he really said anything since he wasn’t able to provide details in response to my questions about how it all works – were kind of inspirational.  Not a bad way to start my day, even if skeptical old Xtopher thought he was probably amped up on whatever designer drug the kids are taking these days.

Regardless, this ought to be exciting to watch unfold.  And whoever resettles our country (or planet if this thing goes wide) will be able to watch it all, thanks to those VLoggers!

So, This Whole Uber Thing…

2 thoughts on “So, This Whole Uber Thing…

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