My First Uber Experience By Rafat Salami

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Finally, I am on Uber!!

Strange? Not quite. Not many of us catch up fast with technology or trends while quite a number of us are Laggards! Life to some of us is better kept simple and practical but it appears technology keeps making it easier for us. Ok.

I have never taken Uber though, nearly everyone I know has. I think it is easier to just flag down a cab and I have always done so… well, until my car developed a fault at a place where cabs do not ply. I am stranded and alarmed!

Gladly, a friend driving along that route saw me and stopped but he was hurrying to catch up with an appointment, so he couldn’t give me a ride. ‘Why have you not called Uber’? He queried.

He was much more alarmed when I told him I do not have the app on my phone and had never tried using it. ‘My, oh my’!!! He exclaimed.

“This is the 21st Century Rafat. You need the app for days like this.”
With that we began to chat about technology, its advantages and how it saves. I promised to download the app and join the league of “Uber users.”

In less than five minutes, as we chat on, he called my attention to a car that just pulled up.

“That’s your Uber, Rafat; have a nice day.”

He was quick to dismiss me because of his appointment but, my curiosity would not allow him go in that instant.

How did you do it? I asked. “How would you know, you called Uber? He showed me that while we were chatting, he had called the Uber.

The vehicle model, its registration number and even the picture of the driver had been sent to him. He did no wait for my reply. He handed the Uber fare to me and zoomed off.

Well, this first ‘Uber voyage’ turned out to be an eye opener.

First, the car was neat as new. I could not help but commend the Uber driver for keeping his car so neat and spotless.

This drew us into a long conversation that ended up giving me a different perspective of my country, Nigeria.

My Uber driver is Nansel. Our conversation will interest you:

ME: Wow! Your car is neat. It looks new.

Nansel: Yes ma’am. Thank you.

Though not out rightly new, you know UBER has its own standard and regulation so if you want to be a driver you must comply.

Me; That is good. So, you bought a car just for Uber?

Nansel: Noooo. The car is not mine. The car belongs to my boss. I took it on lease and I must pay him back some money at the end of each week.

Me: Is that difficult to meet up?

Nansel: Difficult!! No, it is not. In fact, I make more money than I deliver. We agreed to jointly maintain the car but because business is good, I have been maintaining the car by myself. I have never called him to maintain it.

Because the car is new there is nothing much to maintain so I can manage. When we first entered this business he set a very high target for me but I told him he needed to reduce the target and be more reasonable otherwise I will be forced to overwork the car. So he reasoned with me and agreed.

Me: You are a very strange person to me. You are the first taxi driver who would tell me business is good.

Nansel: Hahaaa! Madam what do I have to lose? Business is good, I will not lie to you. Being an Uber driver has changed my life. I used to be a long-distance driver for a transport company. Things were very tough for me at that time. I was unable to make ends meet. But since I joined Uber, nearly a year ago my life has completely turned around. But I must tell you uber is not for lazy drivers. If you are lazy you will be on your own. But if you are not, you will enjoy it. The only problem is Uber is not even allowing me to work as much as I want to

Me: How?

Nansel: They turn off my app once I have clocked ten hours working. So, once they turn you off, you are no longer visible.

Me: You are not allowed to work for more than ten hours?

Nansel: Yes. They say we should rest. Honestly, sometimes you don’t even know you are tired. So once my app is off, I know it is time to rest so I just go and rest. You know when you are enjoying your work and you are making money you will not even know that time is far spent. I like to work mostly in the night because the charges are higher but you know it has its own down side.

Me: I am so impressed and awed. I am thinking of quitting my job and taking up this job.

Nansel: Haahaa. Well, I will recommend it to anyone. But the down side apart from Uber turning my app off, is that it comes with a lot of emotional stress. Honestly, sometimes I am unable to locate a place. You know many of our places are not yet on the Google Map so you have to keep calling your client and be vigilant so that you do not miss the location and waste the time of your client. Uber places emphasis on client satisfaction. We are trained to be courteous and polite. So, at the end, when we drop off, clients will be asked to rate us and give reasons for rating.

He continued: “”The other issue is that the cost of transporting clients to the airport is too low. I think it should be increased. From the city centre it is N3,500. From that money, Uber will take its 25% then I still pay toll. I will end up with just a little over N2,000. That is not good enough.”
Me: Ooh dear, now I do not have the app, so I can’t rate you. But can I publish this conversation?

Nansel: Really? Ok no problem.

Me: I handed him the cash but was curious about how they arrive at the exact fare for remuneration. He explained that to me. He told me you can either pay cash or you pay online. Once he is logged in, if cash is paid to him, Uber will deduct its commission from the account he maintains with the company.

Me: Then we must take pictures to seal this deal; Nansel agrees.
There goes my journey with my hardworking, fun and exciting Uber driver, Nansel.

Well, I have just downloaded the Uber app and I hope to start “Uberring.” Lol.

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