One of Lauren’s biggest complaints is that I come home from work and watch sports for several hours. On Sundays, she commandeers the TV during the most important parts of games because “you’ve been watching football for 8 straight hours,” as if that’s a valid reason. Well, I found an alternative that keeps me busy, entertained, and earns a little cash on the side! It’s not as passive as some other ways to earn money each month, but it is a lot of fun! Uber has everything I look for: super flexible hours (work only when you want), interaction with people, and the more you put in, the more you get out.
The Approval Process
At the prodding of a friend, and after reading a lot about it on The Rideshare Guy, I signed up to be an Uber driver. Or rather, I started the process of becoming an Uber driver. The first step was getting a background check, which took a few days, and once I was approved, I got my car inspected. It took about an hour and cost $20, but it was well worth it. I’m now confident I don’t have any major issues with my car, and am aware of a small one that I should get fixed at some point in the next few months.
I uploaded my inspection documentation, my license and registration, and a few pictures of my car, and waited. And waited. After about a week, I emailed asking about the status, was told it could be a few more days, and waited some more. After another few emails, I finally got approved to take my first trip.
Preparing My Car
I cleaned the inside and outside of the car, brought along some charging cables (iPhone and Android), and hit the road. We just bought a handheld vacuum, which came in handy (and will save me time and money in the future if I drive regularly). There are certain points in life where I consider having “made it.” Having a dustbuster is one of them.
Hitting The Road
My first night (a Wednesday), I left the house at around 7:30, and drove a few blocks away to the restaurant area, hoping to pick up the after-dinner crowd. After about 10 minutes, I got my first ride, from someone not at a restaurant. Go figure. I plugged in her destination (a comedy club), took off, and started to make some conversation. Of all the people I drove the first night, this was easily the best. It was a 15 minute trip, the conversation flowed freely, and we were going to a popular part of town where I was sure to pick up more people.
I’ve read stories about forgetting to start the trip, but somehow, I let it happen to me. I was too focused on the directions and forgot to hit the start button until the very end of the trip. I cost myself $7, but after requesting a fare review and explained that it was my first trip ever, Uber credited me with the difference.
After dropping off the first passenger, I had to wait nearly 15 minutes for my next ride. From speaking to other Uber drivers, that seems like a long wait. A couple of short rides later and some more waiting around, I decided to pack it up and start heading home. Of course, as soon as I did that, I got alerted that there was another ride available, so I took it. 3 drunk people entered the car, I started driving to their place, while one asked if I wanted to rob a bank. I said “not tonight,” and he said, “Of course not tonight!” as if I was the crazy one.
Again, as soon as I dropped them off, I got another ride. I took it, hoping that it would bring me closer to home. Nope, 3 girls were going out to a hotel for a fun night out. Another good ride, and as luck would have it, as soon as I dropped them off, I got pinged that there someone at the hotel who needed a ride. Awesome! They got in and directed me to within a few blocks of home. Amazing!
But there was an issue with that last trip. The total came out to $6.66! I don’t like that vibe, so I contacted Uber and they gladly changed the price to $6.65 for the sake of everyone’s luck. Success!
Overall, I had a great time, but did learn a few lessons. Lesson one: Start the trip! This was a dumb mistake but luckily, I got it out of the way early. Lesson two: Get a phone mount. I was constantly looking down and the audio wasn’t working properly the whole time, so I decided to buy a phone mount for the car. This way I just have to glance and I won’t be as distracted. Well worth the money and in my mind, it’s a necessity. Lesson three: Stay in one spot. I got a bit antsy waiting for passengers, so I tried moving around a bit. This didn’t work and cost me gas, so lesson learned. Better to not get a ride in one place than not get a ride and waste gas in the process. Lesson four: Start later in the night. I started way too early and the first hour or so was very slow compared to later in the night. Maybe it was a one-time thing, but I don’t see a reason to leave the house before 8pm. I need my sleep so I don’t anticipate driving until 11 or 12 every night, but I will pick my spots so I’m more profitable while I’m out there.
Overall, it was a great first night and I enjoyed the experience. I will definitely be back on the road soon and will do some lessons learned posts!