My fourth day driving for Uber was a Monday, the day before the Fourth of July. Normally a Monday would have a morning guaranteed boost for drivers as well as opportunity for airport runs for all those business travelers. Though before the holiday, the boost was only in the afternoon. What is the boost you might ask? Well based on area events and past ride data, Uber runs analytics to determine when the demand will be at its peak and creates guaranteed boosts for drivers to incent us to hit the road and be available for their surplus of passengers. This could be 1.5x our pay or 2x our pay. It works, we drivers chase the money, it’s what we do.
I started the morning around 6am hoping there would still be some folks heading to work or the airport or something. Nothing. Unlike the prior days I came up with a new gas minimization strategy for downtime – hover in my neighborhood for 10 min, move to the closest neighborhood highest likelihood for rides, hover for 10 min, and so forth until a ride request comes through. That took an hour and it was my first no show. It was in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood and as I pulled up I saw a rundown car with his hazards on pick up someone and drive away. Seemed odd, but I waited anyway. Called, texted, nothing. After two minutes the Uber app starts charging the rider a few pennies a minute and after five minutes it tells me I should cancel for no-show. So I did. It gave me $3.75 (charged the rider $5.00).
So I trolled the highlands for a little longer and then got a hit two blocks from the first house I ever lived in Denver. Awe, memories. It was a cute couple from Texas whose friends were still sleeping so they grabbed an Uber to head to a coffee shop in one of our trendy areas – Tennyson street. She hopped in the front seat, him in the back. It still throws me off getting front seat passengers when I have three rows of seats to choose from! In any case, I hadn’t been to the Tennyson area in years and was surprised by how much it had gentrified. 6 minutes later and another $3.75, I dropped them off and started to meander back into the city center hoping for a request.
Not long after I got a request from two young ladies heading to the airport. Yay, airport runs are a score! They were from Houston and really sweet. They had flown in on Saturday but American Airlines had messed up their flights which ate up the entire day. Sunday they headed up to Estes in Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike and ended up seeing both a moose and bear in real life. Moose, cool. Bear, holy smokes! They said the bear was only 30 feet away, luckily it kept to itself but they were a bit frazzled for the last half of their hike. Totally understandable. 30 min later, I dropped them at the airport for $23, no tip. I didn’t get a re-match, meaning I had to eat the gas the whole way back into town. Bites.
Back in downtown a half an hour later, I picked up a college kid that was in Denver for the summer working at the Denver Housing Authority (i.e. low income subsidized housing) back up in the Potter Highlands. He was tall and skinny, from Philadelphia, and had only been in Denver for a few days. He was looking forward to his new gig and loving our amazing weather. He sat in the front seat and commented on how great the radio stations were here. We do have quite a few top 40 stations, which is nice. 10 min later I dropped him off for $4.20 leaving me in a low income housing area. It was getting close to 9am, so I turned the Uber App to only give me people on my way home, and called it a day. No takers.
The two guaranteed boosts that Uber published for today were 3-6pm and again at 9pm, which is too late for me. As soon as 3pm hit, I headed back out on the road. My first request was a few blocks at a large mansion on the corner with two ladies dressed in their fourth of July gear. They asked if I could do two stops. Luckily Uber 101 covered this so I knew what to do. Sure thing! I took them up to the Highlands to drop a dress off to a friend heading on her honeymoon the next day and then back to downtown where the fireworks were to be held later that night. From an Uber perspective, after the first stop, I just had them enter in their final stop and as long as I didn’t end the trip, Uber pays me the entire journey since it tracks our GPS movement. Total trip, 30 min, $17, no boost as they were a little outside the zone.
I didn’t get any immediate requests, so started heading back to my neighborhood where I got a guy going to uptown to play ping pong with his friends at Ace. Uptown is a cute little area with lots of fun restaurants and nightlife. He was a cool guy, pretty chill, we talked about the uptown area and he recommended this speakeasy inside an ice cream place (which strangely came up on one of my airport rides a few days before so I guess I need to check it out!). 10 min later I dropped him off and made $3.75, no boost as he was outside the zone.
Heading back toward home I picked up a young couple from out of town who were heading to the Rockies game. They didn’t have tickets so wanted to get there at 4pm when the office opened. The game started at 6:10 so luckily traffic wasn’t too crazy until we got a few blocks away. They were really sweet and all excited to have a fourth of July in Denver. It was a 2x boost so for 12 min I got $7.50. This boost thing could work out, though you are at the mercy of where the last person ended you, which could or could not be in the zone.
Shortly after I got a hit for an UberXL (which is the jackpot) in downtown. I pulled over and waited, and waited. When I called the lady she answered and came out to the car to tell me the rest of her family was running behind. I had plans at 5pm and it was already 4:30pm… the worst part, until they get in the car I have no idea where they are going and how far. I waited 10 min for them to get to the car and was stressed the whole time. I’m glad I waited as it turned out to be a lacrosse player from the NY Lizzards heading to Mile High stadium to take photos with his whole family at some big lacrosse event. They were a fun group and the first one to notice I’d only been with Uber for a week! They gave me a tip and Uber badges which is awesome. 12 min at $18 plus $3 tip, which included a 2x boost.
Wrapping up, I scurried to my plans and was only 10 min late. Not bad given how variable my end times are based on whomever I pick up and wherever they choose to take us. Today I made $80, worked 5 hours, and spend $15 on gas. That’s about $13/hour (not including car payment, insurance, and taxes). Crazy how exhausting driving around all day being extroverted (I’m an introvert) with various passengers can be. We’ll see how this all goes, proof of concept still in progress!
More to come,
PS – if you’re interested in joining Uber, you can use my link to get a sign-on bonus: https://partners.uber.com/i/sarac13944ui