Uber et al

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is:  Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

March 15, 2018, 10:30am, The Samarkand Retirement Community, 2550 Treasure Dr., Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (877) 412-6305,   www.thesamarkand.org/events

April 13, 2018, 1:00pm, Covenant Village of Turlock Retirement Community, 2125 N. Olive Ave, Turlock, CA 95382, (209)-226-4621, www.covenantvillageofturlock.org/events

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408, www.covenantgreatlakes.org/events

Now, on to my blog:

UberAh, Uber and its brethren.  They use technology to make life easier while simultaneously making it more complicated.  Yes, I wanted to be “with it” just like my tech savvy son–to summon a car using my iPhone.  So, I decided to brave the learning curve and set out to install the Uber app.

The first mistake I made in my confusion was to sign myself up as an Uber driver.   I realized my error as soon as Uber congratulated me on becoming a team member and requested information about my car and driver’s license.

Attempting to unenroll as an Uber driver is a lot harder than enrolling.  Although I kept trying to tell the Uber God that I didn’t want to be a driver but just a rider, he/she refused to listen to me and kept insisting I provide my car/DL info.  Eventually, Uber got tired of my stalling and kicked me out as a potential driver.  I was small potatoes, and they were having none of my foolishness.

I waited a few days to brave the Uber site again.  This time, unbeknownst to me how it came about, I did manage to enroll as a rider.  An Uber app appeared on the homepage screen of my iPhone.  I became one of the cool, trendy types and was going to be chauffeured by Uber.

The first time I called for an Uber pickup, it worked!  I was amazed how simple it was, and that I had done it.  The ride was pleasant and the driver amiable.  All was right with the world, and I was a functioning cog in the Uber machine.

Uber emailed me my receipt and requested input on how I liked the ride.  They offered me a visual of five stars, each with a number under it from one to five in a horizontal row.  I was supposed to click on these celestial bodies to rate my ride.

My driver had been great, and, of course, I wanted to give him the highest rating: five stars.  So, I assumed I was supposed to click on all of the stars.  I clicked the star above the number one first whereupon I was kicked off that page and a message appeared in its place sympathizing with me that I had not had a good Uber experience.  Apparently, I was supposed to click only on the star over the number five, not on every star.  Now, how was I supposed to know that?

Unforgiving Uber God refused to give me an option to revise my evaluation.  Guilt took over; I had just given a black mark to the Uber driving record of a very nice guy.

What to do?  I navigated the Uber website but couldn’t find any way to connect with Uber.  A half-hour later and still navigating, I stumbled upon a contact form to send Uber a message.  I explained my error and begged UG to upgrade my evaluation to five stars.  Later that day, I received an email that my wish had been granted.

I did not use Uber again for several months.  By that time, I forgot about the quirky rating system.  Again, in trying to rate my driver, I ended up giving him the lowest possible rating.  No more guilt–every man for him/herself–I was sick of the whole thing and refused to play the half-hour navigation game again.

Cut to two years later.  I had not used Uber in all that time and forgot the protocol.  After arriving late and tired at my home airport, I summoned Uber to take me to my front door.  The screen monitor notified me that the trip would cost $33.66.

The drive was pleasant and the driver sweet and chatty.  Upon arriving home, I handed him two twenty dollar bills: $33.66 for the fare and the rest for his tip.

“Wow!” he exclaimed.

I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was over a $6 tip.  I mean it was about twenty percent of the bill—a fair tip, but hardly warranting a “wow.” Maybe he wasn’t used to any tip at all.

The next day I was checking my emails and found one from Uber.  It was a receipt for $33.66 billed to my credit card.  How could they do that when I had paid the fare to the driver?  My son explained it all to me patiently–sort of.

“Well, Mom, you gave him a $40 tip.  You’ll just have to suck it up.”

So, I have been sucking it up for a few weeks now.  I’m getting weary of being among the trendy.  The only good thing is that I probably made the guy’s day.  I am one of the positive war stories he can brag about over the coming years on the topic of his life as an Uber driver.


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Photo credit: USEmbassyPhnomPenh on Visual Hunt /CC BY-ND


Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, health and wellness, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

6 responses to “Uber et al

  1. Sheila Sauber

    Hi Lee Gale, Oh my, us oldies are all alike! I found the Uber driver rating stars confusing too and was sad that a lovely lady probably got no rating or a low one on my first try. The app is a little more user friendly these days, although It is good to have the Lyft app too…just in case. I did know not to pay upfront. Thanks for your travel schedule. You will be an Uber expert with a schedule like yours. I’m in Atlanta now for Elena’s 8th birthday. I still can’t get over how smart kids are these days…not just my grandchildren. All the trees are blossoming here now and it is so pretty. Maxine sold her little house and bought a big, newer one in Bakersfield for half the price. Joyce seems well, but I haven’t seen here. Had lunch with Lois…she is in pain most of the time now. 💋💕 Sheila

    Sent from my iPad


  2. so sorry, Lee Gale — very grateful for you letting us learn from your mistakes if any of us ever use uber.

    people of all ages make mistakes on the internet all the time.

  3. Roger Trammell

    Thank God for my wife; she is my uber driver. Anyway I couldn’t join uber cause I got a flip-phone.

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