It is hard to believe it has only been 7 days of driving! That’s because getting on the road twice a day every day for the last few days has been rough. I had thought it was exhausting because I’m an introvert and it’s a very extroverted activity, but I realize now it’s because I’m an intensely focused driver. I’m a two hands on the wheel at all times, constantly assessing risks from other drivers / walkers / bikers, heavily focused on transporting human life safely from point A to point B, all while coming up with fun conversations. Holy smokes it wipes me out!
Having felt completely exhausted lately, I decided this morning I would wake up naturally without an alarm to hit the road. Of course, that was still 5:45am so the 6am on the road routine continued. I’m pretty sure my gas station knows me by now as every day at 6am I fill up my tank. Yes, every day. Uber put out a boost for 6am to 9am in the central Denver area, so I just hung out by the gas station hoping to get a hit and re-evaluating my radio stations as riders want good tunes. After no hits I drove to the neighborhood next door to mine which was the exact center of the boost and waited in a bank parking lot.
It was 6:30am when I got an UberX request. A professionally dressed business man in his late 30’s / early 40’s. He hopped in my car and I could immediately tell he had an accent so asked where from. Being clever he asked if I could guess, sure I love these games! Definitely European, but I’d say France. He said yes. Smiley face! We spent the ride talking about France since I’ve been 3 times, then how both of us had moved from NYC and how different Denver was (i.e. better wink wink), how awesome the food is here. When we got to my favorite restaurant, Izakaya Den, he mentioned how he thought it was NYC level good, and probably even better. Yes. I couldn’t agree more!! 10 min later I dropped him off downtown for $7.72.
Normally the fare would only be $3.75 but the Uber Boost means that Uber will pay me a supplement to drive at certain times in certain areas. Why? Well, they run forecasts that show demand will increase and they don’t want to surge (which is the result of having more requesters than drivers) because it changes rider’s behavior. Riders second guess taking an Uber and look to the competition. No company wants that, so they pay us extra to keep the supply and demand in balance. The rider knows no difference, they pay the same, and us drivers that chase the green carrot get a bonus for helping keep the balance. Everyone wins.
Without any takers I headed back to the bank parking lot near my neighborhood, I think it may become my favorite morning hang spot given how easy it is to get in/out of when ride request come up, plus how central it is. Having time, which is never ideal, I did a thorough check of the car, making sure it was still pretty, no trash, seats clean, seat belts easy to find, third row up, smelled nice, dusted, etc.
It was 7:10am when my next ride came in, another business man dressed in a suit living in a well to do Denver neighborhood. Looked like mid-30s, which is awesome given the mansion he came out of. We chatted and he mentioned he was from Germany so I couldn’t help it, I’ve been 3 times, so I was curious and asked where from – Dusseldorf. His American accent was spot on even though he was 16 when he moved to the states, I was impressed. We talked about Germany, how different Denver is (in a good way of course!), and how his wife was able to learn German. 13 min later I dropped him off downtown for $8.41.
As I was heading back to my favorite little bank spot, I got a request at the Ronald McDonald offices in uptown. It was a lady in her early 40s dressed casual chic. She mentioned she was from New York City, though originally from Jamaica, and having just moved from NYC I asked where – Park Slope. She had purchased a brownstone back in the early 90s when it was crack central and now rents out each floor for enough money she’s retired. She told me one of her neighbors bought at a similar time and sold each floor separately – bought the entire house for $500K, sold floor 1 for $1.2 M, floor 2 for $900K, floor 3 for $1.8… It was such a great woman power, invigorating conversation. 20 min later I dropped her off in Lowry for $13.87.
I waited for her to confirm it was the right address and just as I was pulling out Uber sent me a text – if I go to the airport they’ll give me a rider. Admittedly I do not trust all their carrots, how many others got that text? I was 20 min away, how many others were closer? How could they really guarantee me a ride, the airport queue already showed 11 cars which when I was 11 a few days ago that was a 2+ hour wait for a rider. Though as a carrot chaser, I figured why not, let’s see if these texts actually lead me anywhere.
While heading to the airport, I kept myself online for other requests and got a hit near Peoria which is a fairly industrial lower income area so I wasn’t thrilled but it was for an UberXL (big carrot) so I took it. Turned out to be two girls who had rented a camper and spent the last 8 days driving over 2,500 miles around to Yellowstone, Glacier, and other mountain towns. They had the large bags I refer to as – I’m moving to Europe bags – for their trip. Clearly they haven’t read my packing blogs, JK. They were nice, one was a consultant based in Chicago, the other didn’t mention occupation but from the discussion wasn’t a consultant and from DC. 25 min later I dropped them at the airport for $16.66, no tip.
I immediately got a re-match (thank you Uber I guess your text was reliable) for an UberX heading to downtown. A guy in his late 20s who had spent the holiday weekend with his girlfriend in Wyoming and took the early flight in to make it to work by 9:30am. He preferred the radio off (which was kind of nice) and we sat in silence for half the ride until we got to a traffic jam on the freeway when I asked if he wanted me to take a short cut. He said sure and I excitedly enjoyed showing him one of the traffic avoiding tricks from the East side. He worked for a company called Apto that makes CRM software for commercial brokers. Sounded really cool, but mostly I get super jazzed hearing about startups in Denver that succeed. I want mine to succeed one day!!
After that I set my destination to home and headed back. No takers. Though as soon as I got home I saw Uber had updated the boost to be from 4am-10am and gave me my first quest that if I did 5 rides by 10am I’d get an extra $25 (which is what I’d make in an hour if I was lucky!). I’d completed 4 of 5, total bummer! Lesson learned to check my promotions every morning just in case. The quests are special invitations that certain drivers get to make extra money. Uber says if you do X they’ll give you Y. It’s all free money for helping them help their customers. We all win.
The afternoon flew by and pretty soon it was 2pm, time to get back on the road. The boost from 2-3pm was in Lakewood, then from 3-6pm in central Denver. Off to Lakewood I went, no takers on the way and it took until 2:30pm after I’d been hovering in the Belmar shopping center to get my first ride. A man that smelled of a mix of sweat and dirt, the kind of smell that makes you wonder if he’s homeless. He hopped in the front seat (why!?!?). Likely in his early 20’s he was a landscaper heading to meet his aunt at the Mecca Tavern on Federal, a total dive bar. His girlfriend was 2 weeks pregnant with their first baby and he was nervous if his work would give him the day off for the birth. WTF. It’s so crazy how inflexible blue collar jobs can be. I dropped him off 11 min later for $5.23, no boost (which I’ve contacted Uber to correct, TBD).
** UPDATE: Before I could finish typing this blog post Uber responded and corrected the fare. The new amount was $11.92. Go Uber with awesome fast customer service. Wow. **
From there it was almost 3pm so I just headed over to the central Denver boost. After hanging out in Cherry Creek North for a bit, I got an UberXL ride from the Cherry Creek Country Club. A couple in their early 30s with their 3 kiddos still wet from the pool hopped into the car. They were from Virginia and we talked mainly about the weather, the weekend fireworks, answered questions about driving for Uber, and discussed how the homeless population has changed with the legalization of marijuana. I dropped them off 10 min later in downtown for a boosted $15.51.
As soon as I pulled into the hotel, my next request popped up. A man in his 30s on crutches with his father who was in town from Minnesota. I scurried to dry off the seats from the wet kiddos with the Kleenex I carry and barely finished as they opened the door. We joked about the weather, how spoiled we are in Denver, and how being spoiled makes us so cranky/whiney when the weather is even slightly off – the one day it rains or is cloudy, the one day it’s over 90, etc. We act as though the world ended. It was so true it was laugh-so-hard funny. I dropped them off in uptown 8 min later for a boosted $5.76.
Not getting any hits I headed to Cherry Creek North to be the car that lurks outside the hotels in hopes of getting a request. It took around 30 minutes before one came in. A couple my grandparents age from a little town in Pennsylvania that were in town for their granddaughter’s wedding. They were really sweet and taught me that there are different kinds of bologna (who would have known!). She thought I was in my early 20s, which was fun to hear since I’m almost 40 – ha! I dropped them off 10 min later for a boosted $7.71 with a $5 tip (so kind of them!!).
Then it was time to head home. I’d missed my personal trainer appointment the past two times with my new chaotic and unpredictable Uber life, but not today. The car still smelled like the guy from earlier no matter how much I sprayed it, the joys of summer heat. Today I worked 6 hours, had 9 trips, made $105.87 + $5 tip – $15 gas = $96 / 6 hours = $16 / hour. Excluding insurance, taxes, and the car. Not the best day financially but met some really fun people.
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