I live in Atlanta, which is a big metropolitan area and very spread out. That means you have to drive everywhere. So if you are interested in enjoying a night on the town or a nice dinner with a cocktail or two (or three or four...), you need to either be very responsible about your intake (booooooring) or find alternate modes of transportation. Most of the time, I choose the latter. However, the choices for personal transportation before very recently were pretty limited - take a cab or pop for a pricey car service. And anyone who's regularly taken cabs knows that it's not always the most pleasant experience (understatement) and can also be pretty pricey. Enter Uber.
If you don't know Uber, it is a "mobile application that connects you with a driver at the push of a button." In a nutshell this means that Uber is an app you download on your smartphone. You create an account, load your credit card information and use the app to request a Uber networked driver to pick you up at your location and take you where you need to go. And all the drivers have ratings. You can see who your driver is and how they have been rated by previous customers before even stepping foot in their car.
Uber notes right on its website that their system is "better, faster, and cheaper than a taxi" - which is all very true. They also say they "make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers." Amen!
What does this mean for you and me? Well, here's a short list (I know, another list) of the reasons why Uber -- and services like Uber -- is great for everyone, including the drivers, and probably isn't going anywhere:
1) Simple: it's cheaper than a cab. Unless of course demand is off the charts and surge pricing goes into effect. When that happens you just turn your ass around and march right back in the bar for more drinks. It's a sign. You're giving up too soon.
2) I've been in a lot of Ubers in the past year or so and they almost always smell good. Is it a requirement? If the person has a new car, it smells like new car. Others smell like vanilla cookies with ice cream and cinnamon candy canes. As opposed to cabs, which usually smell like B.O.
3) How about a friendly driver? A friendly driver who greets you by name and asks you how you are? A friendly driver who asks you how you are while offering you bottled water? The only thing a cab driver ever offered me was an additional surcharge and a window that won't roll all the way up.
4) You request Uber, the app tells you how long they'll be and then they show up. Genius! Can you believe all the shit we've tolerated with cabs over the years? There's no waiting on a pick up for 45 minutes to then find out from the bitchy dispatcher that they are just not coming. No hanging out on the street corner like a working girl, trying to hail passing cabs like a total maniac. No arguing with the cabbie because you live farther than they want to drive (and then getting kicked back out on the street). No arguing over the credit card machine being "broken"...or the bullshit surcharges...or why the hell they aren't turning on the meter. With Uber, you actually rate your driver after your ride. And Uber takes any negative comments seriously. So don't be shy, lay it on them! (Psst - keep in mind: the drivers rate you too. If you are obnoxious, or barfy, or rude, the driver can rate you as a bad rider and future drivers can use that rating to black ball you. Food for thought.)
5) Everything is charged to your credit card so you never need cash (I never have cash)! And no tipping! Your tip is literally a tip, i.e. "don't drive so slow" or "learn your way around jerk" or "use more vanilla air freshener."
Moral of the story: Uber is a great service and has been a long time coming, but don't forget -- Uber drivers, just like cab drivers, are still strangers. Be safe!