I recently was in Las Vegas, having a meeting with James Malinchak, at his house – you know the guy from the Secret Millionaire? Our book I coauthored, had just come out – “Reaching Your Greatness.”
When I asked where to catch a ride to the hotel at the airport – the woman at the ride stand said, “Well, if you want to save money – use Uber.” Since I was in no hurry, and always up for a new experience, I thought why not? She assured me that the drivers were legit, and that Uber checks them out.
Now if you’ve been off the grid for a while, too busy doing life, and don’t know what Uber is – it’s a ride service that every day Joes and Janes sign up to provide – an every person’s taxi. So after a little upgrading of the Uber app to my phone (boy – it’s times like this, I particularly miss my teenage son : ), I put in the order for a ride to the hotel.
It was simple – being hooked up to Big Brother now-a-days, it easily found where I was, and knew where Uber drivers were available. You get choices of rates, pictures of the available drivers and how long it will take to reach you. You also choose whether or not you want to share a ride. I thought, why not? The rates were as much as 50% below the price of a cab.
If truth be told, I was a bit hesitant getting into a stranger’s car alone. Too many tales from my childhood about the dangers of strangers, and I still could hear my mom whispering in my ear (really odd, since she passed away years ago), Don’t ever get in a car with a stranger! The fact the other passenger was also an unknown, seemed like the better of two evils. It gave me comfort that I was going to share the experience with some other person willing to take the moderate risk – only time would tell if we were both just two dumbasses trying to save a buck : )
The Uber app said my chariot was only 6 minutes away. It also told me I was looking for a blue, Ford Taurus. I could trace where the driver was as the car icon moved along the route. Within a few minutes, he arrived. A man who I thought looked like his picture bravely approached the group of impatient, longing souls who wanted to get on with their plans. You know everyone always chooses their best photo, and in today’s world of touch ups, his still resembled a mug shot. As a mom, remembering the days when animated movies were the norm, I couldn’t help but think that from his vantage point, we probably looked like Donkey, from the movie “Shrek” – when he kept jumping up trying to get Shrek’s attention, “Pick me!, pick me!, pick me!”
“Penny?” he called out. I waved to him with a mild case of trepidation, and pushed my luggage to his car. “Hi, I’m Bernardo,” he said as he loaded up the luggage, and advised me to use the other door, as our mystery rider was on the side closest to me. I couldn’t see her at first due to the tinted windows.
As I got into the car, the other passenger was deep in conversation on her cell phone. She didn’t even take a breath, or acknowledge that another person had just plopped her butt down next to her. She was about four inches away from me, yakking loudly. I wondered if Miss Manners had updated her website for Uber travelers : )
Now before I proceed and tell you about the conversation she was having – please note, as God is my witness, this is what happened. She was a big-boned, (I’m trying to be polite), woman. As she continued in her conversation without so much as a pause, she said, “Momma, I couldn’t believe it! Aunty Tiana, just received a million and a half dollar severance package and she’s saying, she’s still going to work! I want to go over her house and slap some sense into her! After working all those years and now she is handed the dream, and she’s still gonna’ work? Huh, what kinda’ fool is that?” she exclaimed.
O.K., now I’m trying hard not to laugh. It’s not that I’m trying to eavesdrop – I have no choice.
“People plan this – they try to get the hell out of this working the rest of their lives as much as they can – they don’t want to work.” She paused long enough to be listening to her mother on the other end of the phone. “Girl, you’re right, I’d be celebrating right witch you. Somebody tell me I’m getting all this money and I’m packing my bags and out of here. I’m 32. Do you think I want to work at the hospital another 50 years? Hell, I’d be going. She could take my job and I’m going.” She stopped talking as her mom was obviously interjecting her opinion. “See what I’m saying, I’m going! Change her mind? I double dare her – I’ll be right at her front door.”
Momma apparently delivered disturbing news…“What? Are you kidding me? Ten years ago, you could have been on the same page with her? You’re making me cry. You could have been in Hawaii!” She paused as she listened.
“You could have taken me – I would’ve went! Kiara would have went – she ain’t crazy (apparently speaking about her cousin, that her Aunt was concerned about being able to see if she took the money and left town).
“I’m happy that when January comes – she’s rich! She can sell her house. That’s right, they can have it all. You’re right sho is – that’s great. Now when you say Momma, she’s not gonna’ have to worry about money any more – hmm, I’m telling ya’ that’s the life I wish I had, that’s the life we all want to have. Where you don’t have to worry about where you’re gonna’ get the money…that’s the life I want to say, I have one day!” as she chuckled listening to what her mother was saying on the other end of the cellphone.
“You supposed to – when you retire in your 60s and 70s, you’re supposed to – you’re not supposed to worry about money– you’re supposed to live Grandah,” she emphasized the “d” as if it was another syllable. “No, you’re supposed to say – don’t worry about money, I’m cool. Scuz me, who wouldn’t want to live that life? Well that’s how you’re supposed to live – everybody would love to live that way – need some money? Don’t worry, I got it – that’s it.“
“Well being poor or rich, which option would you pick?” she rhetorically asked her mom. “Damn straight! – oh hell no, no, no.” “That’s called quits too soon.” “No, you can’t give up! That’s already throwing dirt on yourself and just burying yourself. No, it’s not about being snooty, it’s about being established when you’re in old age and comfortable cuz’ you worked hard all of your life – you want to be there and do what the hell you want to do. You lived this long you might as well have that to look forward to!”
“If you want to be dirt poor in your old age – the graveyard is right there and you can climb in your grave and you can just bury yourself right there! Come on, no!”
As the car slowed down, pulling up to some apartments, she finally looked up and said, “Oh, here we are. Thank you Bernardo.”
“Sorry for the conversation on the phone,” she said to me laughing, finally acknowledging she knew I was there too.
I said, “No problem, I was trying not to listen, but I couldn’t help it.”
She said, “I know, I’m sorry,” and she got out of the car.
As we pulled away, Bernardo and I both broke into a fit of laughter.
“I was about to pee in my pants trying not to laugh,” I said. She saved me the price of going to a comedy club while I’m in Vegas,” I said smiling.
I asked him, “How long have you been with Uber?”
“A couple months,” he replied.
“What kind of hours do you have to work?” I asked.
He said, “I choose my own. I’m retired and usually like to work just in the mornings.”
“How much does Uber keep, I asked?” He replied, “20%.”
“Are most of the passengers ok to deal with?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Living in Vegas, I don’t work nights so I don’t get the crazy drunks. There was only one time that was creepy. I saw that the passenger was talking for a bit and I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I said, “Excuse me, I didn’t hear what you said.”
He replied, “Hey buddy, I wasn’t talking to you!” – “Which was a problem since no one else was in the car,” Bernardo recounted.
Following the tracking map I noticed we were getting close and I began getting my bags together in the car and had looked away. When Bernardo stopped the car, I looked up and a gate was opening in front of a condominium complex.
“Bernardo,” I exclaimed, “this is not the Marriott!”
“Well you must have put in the wrong address,” the driver said.
“Pull over, so we don’t go any further than we need to,” I advised wondering why he was continuing to drive.
“The address I gave you is 1481 Paseo Verde Parkway,” I said. As it turned out I had given the correct address but as good as GPS’s are, there sometimes is a gap and we were actually backed up against the Marriott’s driveway about to enter someone’s Aunt Sally’s condo complex.
In the meantime, he had pulled up the address of the Marriott. “Well, that’s the correct address,” he said puzzled. Looking up he noticed – “Oh there’s the Marriott, just across the street.”
I learned with Uber, you will have to learn to take the good with the bad:
- Price, price, price. I found the savings to be about 50% if you shared the ride and even if you didn’t, the prices were much better than taxis.
- The drivers and their cars are supposedly checked out thoroughly by Uber so you should be safe.
- I found the driver to be pleasant and polite.
- Inexperienced drivers.
- Due to inexperience, they may take longer for you to get where you are going.
- If you choose ride share – you don’t know who you will find in the car with you. Quiet, charming, or annoying – it will be a crap shoot.
The bottom line is, if you aren’t crunched for time – feel free to use a service like Uber. You’ll save money, get where you need to go safely, and you might even get a story for your blog : )
I invite you to Join Me on My Journey…