A view from the driver's seat

Coke vs. Hansens Natural Soda

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So what’s the difference between Uber and Lyft? Mainly, it’s the concept of back seat vs. front seat. Uber, people tend to sit in the back which makes it feel more car service-y. Lyft, people are encouraged to ride shotgun, making it feel more like the Lyft slogan, “Your friend with a car.” Guess which I prefer? Not to say that I haven’t met some nice people doing Uber.

-The gussied up, hot Latina schoolteachers going to a wedding in Beverly Hills that tossed me a $20 as a tip. One was a Denver Broncos fan and nervously checked her iphone for updates the entire ride. 

-The cynical suit going to a Hollywood Hills charity event who broke down the real reasons for these types of events. Apparently rich single Persians and Jews need a vetted venue to meet other single rich people of their ilk, online dating and the bar scene being beneath their social status. And pretending to care about education or feeding third world children is the perfect disguise for their thinly veiled self interests.

-A burly grandfather with a Jewish blue collar PA accent who told me about his son dying on Father’s Day while driving to see him and falling asleep at the wheel. Some things you never get over. Some things you never have words for.

But for the most part, Uber is like Coke. It’s a behemoth that everyone knows about. It’s the easy choice. And there’s a fancy aspect to it — a black car image. So even if I’m driving a Toyota Camry hybrid and the prices are as low as Lyft, people seem to want to buy into the mythos. They don’t want a pink mustache car picking them up or dropping them off at their fancy party. They want to seem like they’re being serviced. So suddenly, I’m all over rich areas like Beverly Hills ferrying rich kids around, something that never happened with Lyft. (The closet was dropping off a half black/half Indonesian nanny at a tony Palisades mansion where she was one of 4 nannies watching a brood of 4 half Jewish/half Korean children) I took one androgynous scowling teenage boy to the top of a dead end street way up in the hills, the mansion at the top, while he listened to dubstep on headphones full blast. I picked up three scantily clad bright, chattering girls at a mansion, security watching as a parade of cars, Uber limo to Uberx, came to fetch the teenagers at the end of the night. They were startled when I asked them what was going on, like I wasn’t supposed to ask. And they reluctantly told me that it was a party for their school (they went to a famous expensive prep school in the area), that there was security, no not sure about parents. On the surface, these kids, they do everything right. They say thank you, please. But they don’t really mean it. Their gloss of self entitlement cannot be punctured and everything and everyone slips off its shiny surface. Teenagers in general are already a self absorbed bunch, but give them some money and some power… fuggedaboutit. I’m staying out of BH. 

The other odd thing about Uber is that customers often seem surprised that one, I’m a woman. Two, I have a personality. Because Uber doesn’t have much of a community for their drivers (no Facebook lounge or regular meet ups like Lyft), plus on the driver’s app, you can’t see any other cars out there, you have no idea of who these other drivers are. In the weekly newsletter, they do choose a Driver of the Week and list number of rides and rating. They’re always older men, foreign men. Ular or Avag. Double chin. Thick eyebrows. The kind of guy you’d see driving a regular cab. Probably rocking an ugly sweater and khaki pants. Sometimes I’m a pleasant surprise and women will squeal — I’ve never gotten a female driver before! Or the young black guy with a Kid N Play fade will exclaim over my radio choice of KDAY (Back in the day!), “I like your music!” And then sometimes it feels odd, like the teenagers, or two dudes in the backseat who can’t figure out how to treat me, like the hired help or a lady, so instead, settle on an awkward quiet.

I’ve talked to other Lyft drivers who did some Ubering. And they all say the same thing — they prefer Lyft by far. I also mentor new drivers for Lyft and I’ve gotten quite a few Uber drivers who want to try out something new.  So I believe Lyft will thrive, despite all the money that Uber is pouring into recruiting drivers. Me, I don’t know how much longer I’ll drive for Uber. These past weekends, I’ve done both, dashing in and out of my car to tie and untie the pink mustache. It’s a pain in the ass but when I’m in the Valley or Torrance or someplace out of the hotspots, I can’t afford to sit around waiting for a ride. But in those instances when I get a request from both Uber and Lyft at the same time, I’ll take the fruity flavor every time.



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