If you’ve ever been a Black man in New York, you know what I speak of.
But trying to catch a cab in the city can be a bitch!
If there aren’t long lines outside of the station, or club, then there’s some dude further up the block hailing them earlier.
Better yet, you think that you’ve spied an empty cab coming your way, only to see a slunked down passenger in the back as they pass you by.
Or you could be passed over all together by completely empty cabs just because you’re HWB.
Hailing while Black.
A minute ago, someone put me up on Uber.
You know, Uber, the whole ride sharing app.
I had been using other apps, like Curb (formerly Taxi Magic), with varying degrees of success and never really tried Uber out.
Until recently, that is.
Ya see a few weeks back, I found myself stuck in the city late night, trying to get back to Jersey.
I had just missed my train, and I was totally NOT trying to wait on NJ Transit for another hour for the next one.
As I stepped out of Penn Station to hail a cab, I was totally dismayed to see the long line of folks waiting for cabs.
Then it dawned on me – Uber!
A few minutes later, a shiny black SUV pulled up, with an “Uber” sign in the passenger window.
As I got in, the driver said, “Hello Stephen,” and I knew I had found my steady.
Thirty minutes later, I disembarked in front of my house, with a “Good night, Stephen.”
No scrambling to find cash or swiping my card, just a “good night” and off.
Lest you think this was a one-off, I’ve used Uber at least a half-dozen times since then.
And each trip was as pleasant as the first.
With the exception of the talkative “Marilyn” who got lost and arrived late, which in turn made me late to my appointment.
But speed bump aside, here are the top five reasons I love Uber (and why you should too).
1. They call you by your name.
The first time I got into an Uber car and the driver called me by my name, I felt like a bonafide celebrity. It’s not like I’ve never had a car service pick me up before. But it’s an entirely different thing to be greeted in such a friendly and familiar manner when you’re not rolling in duckets. I don’t know what Uber tells it’s drivers, but that calling me by my name thing works.
2. No fuss or fumbling with money or cards.
When you set up with Uber, you associate a billing method with your account, and your fare is automatically deducted when you arrive at your destination. There’s no haggling with the driver, pulling out cash, tapping or swiping required. Arrive. Disembark. Done.
3. You don’t have to fight with other commuters.
Unlike hailing a cab on the skreets or calling up a cab company to request a ride, with Uber, there’s no fighting with other commuters. Open up the app, see the available drivers around you, request a driver and voila! Now just sit back and wait.
The acronym, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) is totally apropos for Uber. The Uber app is totally transparent. You can see where your driver is, how long it will take to get to you, and the fare you can expect to pay. Now sometimes, there’s a glitch in the matrix and you’ve got to refresh your connection to actually see where your driver is (and the app doesn’t do a great job of recalculating the estimated time to get to you), but with Uber, there are no surprises. And if you ever have an issue, you can instantly contact the driver (via text or call) or even cancel your ride altogether. No muss, no fuss.
5. Super easy to use.
There is nothing – NOTHING – I hate more than a complicated app. All I want to do is get a ride. I shouldn’t have to solve a Rubik’s Cube to do so. Uber makes it über-simple to do so with their app.
- Open the app.
- Set pickup location.
- Request uberX.
Now, there is one thing that you do need to know about Uber.
What’s “surge pricing” you ask?
It’s the price you pay trying to catch a ride with Uber during peak traffic.
It’s usually quoted as a multiplier of the regular rate, say 1.5 or 2.0 of the regular rate.
If you get a ride at that time, expect to pay more than you regularly would.
Now they’ll tell you when the surge pricing period is over and there’s usually a brief window within which it expires – but it’s the one thing about Uber that I don’t love.
Anyway, the next time you find yourself jockeying for position on the curb to get a cab, take a chill pill, whip out your phone and hit Uber up.
Have an Uber experience you’d like to share? Leave me a comment!