Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

15 May 2018

Cab Driver Stories: The Big Switch

Me and my buddy, Terry May, Pensacola, Florida's two newest Uber drivers.  (It may not be clear in the pic, but Terry is the one wearing shorts and a knee brace.)

Life is strange. Don't ever let anyone tell you it's not.

As I mentioned in my post on May 2nd, I have switched from being a taxi driver to driving for Uber. And now, two weeks down the road (if you'll pardon the pun) I can report: So far, so good. It's like taxi driving, only easier.

My cabdriver friend Terry was witness to the speed and ease with which I was able to find a replacement vehicle for my aging Ford minivan. He has a similarly-aging Dodge. And although his van was still in pretty good shape, you just never know what's going to break next on a car with 200,000+ miles.

Casually perusing the online ads, Terry found a late-model Dodge for sale at a used-car dealership over in Mobile, Alabama. It looked to be in nice shape, but was priced $4,000 below “book.” Terry called the dealer and got the bad news: Hail damage to the hood and roof. Hmm. We decided to go take a look at it anyway.

The hail damage was minimal, or at least as “minimal” as hail damage can be. Yeah, it was noticeable on the hood if you looked just right. On the roof there was virtually none to speak of. We took it for a test-drive. With 86,000 miles it still drove like new. The interior was immaculate. Like mine, it was a one-owner car. The dealer had it since September and he wanted it gone; hence, the low price.

The taxi drivers here in Pensacola call Terry, “Mr. Lucky” because of all the good trips he gets. His good-fortune continued. A buyer “magically” appeared for his pickup truck that he hadn't been driving much in the last five years. Then a guy came along and wanted to lease-purchase his current taxi. Suddenly Terry had no reason to not buy this van. He did, and then with some understandable reluctance he signed up with Uber, which was the great-unknown for us.

So now we both have “new” Dodge minivans...vans with zero maintenance issues...vans that people get in and go, “Is this brand-new?” (Yes, they are that nice.) We went from taxi drivers to Uber drivers literally overnight.

Our cab driver buddies act as if we've committed an act of treason. They plaintively ask us, “Are you coming back?” We reply ambiguously that we might return, but the truth is that neither Terry nor I would ever go back to driving a regular taxi. I'll get into the reasons why in future installments here.

In the meantime, Terry and I just laugh that we quite suddenly and unexpectedly made the Big Switch from taxis to Uber.  And it wasn't nearly as traumatic as we imagined.


Bob said...

I wonder how many similar stories there are like this? There are so many reasons why Uber and Lyft have been so successful. It’s reasonably priced (generally) and when drivers like you offer clean and safe transportation, you get rated by your passengers and you build a good reputation. And no money changes hand because of the way it’s done through your cell phone. I think you and Terry have made a wise move.

Bob Barbanes: said...

We think so too, Bob! We're earning about the same money with Uber as we were with our taxis, but we're working less to make it.

Uber really is the wave of the future of taxicabs. We Pensacola cab companies *could* have devised an app like Uber's. But it likely only would've worked here in this city. For travelers, wherever you go you'd have to have the taxi app for that particular city. And this is the genius of Uber: To have a taxi app on your phone that works *everywhere* is simply marvelous. For the passenger to be able to see on their phone the progress their assigned cab is making toward them is just too cool. Not everyone likes having their credit card information stored by such a big company as Uber of course, but it makes things extremely convenient. You call a "cab," you get in, you get out, and you're done. Amazing!

So far, my first three weeks as an Uber driver have been fun. As I mentioned in the post, I'd never go back to driving a regular cab.