But so-called “ride-sharing” is changing our culture in a profound way. With the advent of Uber and Lyft, “taxis” are available in parts of our city/county where they never were before, or where it would take a very long time for a cab to get to you, if you could even get a driver to accept the trip request. With Uber/Lyft, semi-retired guys like myself who live in outlying areas can log-on and get trips. People who need transportation in those areas can also log-on and see that cars are available nearby.
So now, a couple with only one car isn't inconvenienced if one spouse takes that car to work. The other spouse can now get out and run errands or do whatever. Alternatively, the working spouse can Uber to work, leaving the car home for personal use. Or, families that used to own two cars don't need to do that now. This is huge. And it's happening.
In my town, there is a lot of Uber/Lyft business between 4:30 and 9:00 am. People go to work, to school, to the airport...to all the places you'd imagine. After nine it really drops off until the evening. The bulk of the ride-share drivers – and there are plenty of them! - come out after nine. Competition is keen and the few trips are split between dozens of drivers. However, this leaves the very early morning hours fairly open...to guys like myself.
As I've written before, I'm a "morning person." I'm not proud of it, and it's not because I want to be. It's been thrust on me out of necessity. For most of my adult life, which includes 30+ years as a professional pilot I've had to be at work and ready to go thirty minutes before sunrise. So I'm used to getting up super-early. All of us helicopter pilots are. Habits are hard to break, and even though I'm pretty much semi-retired from flying, I still get up early.
People who own helicopters like to get the most out of them. The aircraft enables people to be efficient in moving around their world, getting much more work done than if they had to drive. Thus, helicopters start their workday early. Unfortunately, so do their pilots.
You'd think that as you get some seniority and longevity in a career that you'd qualify for the “cushier” jobs that don't start so early. Aaaaand you'd be wrong. My last job, the one up in Washington State required that we fly at sunrise if it rained overnight. And since we never really knew if it rained or not while we were sleeping, every morning we pilots would get up and check the weather early enough to fly as soon as it was light enough to see. In Washington, sunrise happened at around 4:30am at that time of year. If it hadn't rained, it was permissible to go back to bed. But you know, once you're up...
At 63 I am not (yet) cursed with the malady that afflicts a lot of men in my age group – that being the need to get up periodically in the middle of the night to...you know...pee. As long as I don't drink too much in the evening, I can go to bed around eleven pm and get up at four am without any interruptions. But nowadays I do reliably wake up at four.
So I get up early and get my day going. Sometimes I'll just turn the Uber and Lyft apps on around 5:00 am and stay home until I get a trip, which invariably comes before I've even finished making breakfast. Or I'll get in the car and drive up to a “honey-hole” that I know of – a hotspot for trips. There, I'll stop at the Circle-K, get the newspaper and a cup of coffee, and then retire to the Target parking lot to wait for a trip. Usually one or the other app will ping while I'm on line in the convenience store. I “work” until about noon and then go home. It turns out that this is being a morning person is something of an advantage when it comes to being a ride-share driver.