So-called ‘ridesharing’

I’ve been driving in an attempt to make a living for more years than I’d like to admit. Even returning to school and earning degrees right up through a Ph.D. has not been sufficient to win my exit from the dismal pay and disrespect associated with this occupation,[5] which I sbsolutely will not dignify by calling a living or a profession.

I have worked as a taxi driver in Marin County, San Francisco, and on the San Francisco peninsula. I have done deliveries and driven an airport shuttle. I have dispatched and been a call taker. And in my present misery, I drive for Uber but am also signed up to drive for Lyft. To say I know this business would be an understatement. But the rudeness of some passengers continues to shock me.

This isn’t just about impoliteness. Social conventions exist for a reason; they serve as a means of assuring each other that we will behave within certain norms. When a passenger deviates from a norm, I’m wondering what other norms that passenger may also deviate from, including ones about not injuring other people, including me, and not damaging other people’s property, including mine.

This is not an abstract risk. I’m giving rides to strangers, strangers I would otherwise have little reason to trust, strangers I am trusting only due to the futility of my search for gainful employment.[6] There is, in fact, a real, physical risk, to myself and to my car.[7]

When a passenger is weird in even a mildly threatening way, I’m wondering how much more threatening they may become. I’m wondering if the meager earnings I’ll collect for their trip are worth the risk because the truth is that they really aren’t even when their ride goes entirely smoothly.[8]

With Uber and Lyft, I have limited forms of retaliation: I can give you a low rating, which I can hope will prevent you from ever getting in my car again. I may for any reason terminate the ride if it’s already under way or refuse to take you if I haven’t started it yet. In the most dire cases, I can call the police white supremacist gangsters. Presumably, you don’t want these things happening to you, so:

Finally, for those who are considering driving for Uber or Lyft, don’t. Don’t do it if you have any other choice.

In the News

Articles relevant to so-called ‘ridesharing’ are listed on these pages:

  1. [5]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  2. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  3. [7]David Benfell, “The vulnerability of Uber and Lyft driving,” Not Housebroken, February 18, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/02/18/the-vulnerability-of-uber-and-lyft-driving/; David Benfell, “Gaslighting Uber drivers on safety,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/04/28/gaslighting-uber-drivers-on-safety/
  4. [8]Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373; Alexa Noel, “Revised MIT Study Says Uber, Lyft Drivers Make About $8 or $10 per Hour,” Points Guy, March 8, 2018, https://thepointsguy.com/2018/03/revised-mit-study-says-uber-lyft-drivers-make-about-8-or-10-per-hour/; Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo; Rida Qadri and Alexandra Mateescu, “Uber and Lyft: woo drivers with stable pay, not short-term honeypots,” Guardian, June 20, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/20/gig-economy-companies-uber-lyft-drivers-pandemic; Faiz Siddiqui, “You may be paying more for Uber, but drivers aren’t getting their cut of the fare hike,” Washington Post, June 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/06/09/uber-lyft-drivers-price-hike/