Clarksville, TN – After I sold my business in 2012, my wife and I bought a downtown Nashville condo so we could spend some time in the “Music City.” After all, it was slowly becoming the “it” city and there was plenty to do. Even for us old folks.
I had started to get bored with basically nothing to do, when I read an article in the Nashville paper about “Cab drivers upset over Uber.”
I thought, “what the hell is Uber?”
Once I googled Uber, I thought, “That’s a hell of an idea.” “I could do that.” So, I filled out an online application and they called me back the very next morning.The ride sharing service had just launched and they needed drivers, and while I didn’t need the money, (although it was nice), I needed something to do to keep me occupied until my wife got off of work.
It was perfect.
First, the company.
Uber is NOT very driver friendly. Their problems with drivers is well documented. It’s a shame, because it would be so easy to treat the drivers like rock stars. Encourage tipping etc.. But they didn’t, at least not while I was driving. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me, because I wasn’t having to depend on Uber for my livelihood.
I wouldn’t recommend this as a full time job. You’ll get frustrated in a hurry. The burn out is phenomenal. Plus, with the flood of drivers out there now, it’s harder and harder to make the kind of money they promise, unless you work 12 hours per day.
It IS a perfect side job though.
Now, some stories.
When the service first launched, it was a firestorm. All a driver needed to do was get in the car, turn on the app and let the cash roll in. I met a lot of very hard working young people. Servers, bartenders, musicians struggling to make it big. Corporate big wigs. Everybody was hailing an Uber.
Women LOVE Uber, because they HATE the Nashville cabs. They felt more comfortable with Uber. The drivers were friendly, the cars were nicer. It was just a better experience.
The college kids got on my nerves. There were several I just wanted to smack in the face. So disrespectful and such “potty” mouths. I just wrote it off to being young and cocky. I was the same way, so, there ya go.
I was an early bird and I would hit the road first thing in the morning, especially on the weekends. It was filled with airport runs, hotel runs, getting people back to their car or apartment after a wild night on the town. You know, the “ride of shame.” And for some reason, they all felt the need to tell me about their night.
“I didn’t mean to drink that much” they would say. “I didn’t intend to spend the night there,” they went on. “He’s not really my boyfriend.”
I would say, “hey, you don’t need to tell me anything. I’m just going to make sure you get home, so please don’t throw up in my car.”
I once picked up former Senator Bill Frist for a run to the airport. I had interviewed Senator Frist numerous times on my morning talk show when he was still in politics. We knew each other.
So when I pulled up to his Mid-Town Condominium, I got out of the car and popped the trunk lid and walked around to speak and he looked at me with that “oh goodness Hank, what has happened to you?” kind of expression.
I laughed my arse off.
“All is good Senator. I’ve retired and I’m driving to have something to do.”
He laughed, (although I don’t think he believed me).
One afternoon, I was sent to a pick-up at one of Nashville’s exclusive dress makers. As I waited outside, the two women finally emerged. One of them I just KNEW was actress Cameron Diaz.
It was Brooke Hogan, daughter of Hulk, along with her step-mother, Jennifer. They were picking up their new dresses for Wrestlemania. So I put the dresses in the back while they got into the car. They had a couple of drinks in hand that they swore were soft drinks (they weren’t).
During our ride to the restaurant their phone rang and they put it on speaker. Jennifer said, “hey sweetie, we’re in an Uber, say hello to Hank.”
And this big, deep, recognizable voice bellowed, “HEY BROTHER!”
IT WAS THE HULK!
HULKAMANIACS!!! O. M. G!
When we get to the restaurant, I asked them where they wanted me to put their dresses. “well, can we just leave them with you and you could pick us back up in about thirty minutes?”
I said, “I can’t be responsible for these dresses.”
They said, “how about we give you $100 and you wait for us?”
I pointed and said, “I’ll be right over there.”
And don’t even get me started on all of those bachelorette parties I drove around town.
All in all, I enjoyed the freedom of working when I wanted. It was fun. I met a lot of really great people. Just common everyday folk. Servers, bartenders, struggling artists. I had corporate executives from Facebook, Apple, Google and AT &T. The Facebook people were really cool.
I never had anyone get sick in my car, and I never felt uncomfortable at any time.
When I quit driving, Uber had flooded the market with drivers and it just wasn’t worth the time and effort I had to put into it. Plus, they decried that we couldn’t carry our weapon in our car. That was the final straw.
It’s a great service. A genius idea. I wish I had thought of it. But it’s just another chapter in my life that I can talk about at parties.