6 Places Your Uber Driver Doesn't Want To Pick You Up
I'm Lexus Jones. I have a regular full-time job but on the weekends and occasional weeknights I drive for Uber. Over the last couple of years I have driven over 2,000 trips for Uber. At first I drove on the UberX platform. Now I drive a luxury car on the Uber Plus platform. Whenever I think that I have seen it all, something new happens. I will be sharing those stories here. I will also answer questions and give advice on how to get the most out of your rides.
The waiting game (Photo by Mark Warner via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
Uber drivers in Los Angeles generally like to congregate wherever there are passengers, however, there are some exceptions to that rule. That's because certain really busy areas turn out to be notorious for short rides and/or rude passengers who are known to puke in our cars. In Los Angeles, it's often the best areas that experienced drivers avoid.
The Hollywood Hills
Any Uber driver cruising along Sunset on a busy Friday or Saturday night is bound to get a request from a passenger way up in the hills or deep in the canyons. We will take those calls when we are new to the platform but we quickly learn that this is fool's gold. Despite their wealth, people in the hills rarely travel far distances, they tend to be aloof, and it can take as long traveling up the windy narrow roads to get to their mansions as it does to carry them to the Mondrian or Chateau Marmont. Also they never tip. Ever. The first time I got a call from way up there I was excited to check out the view, but then after driving 10 minutes, waiting 5 minutes by their ridiculously huge gate, and then driving 6 minutes to get them to their destination, I had learned my lesson. The $7 fare was not worth it.
The longest ride you will get from a USC student is from the campus area to DTLA. But the most typical ride you'll get is from the Greek area—which is a shit show at night—to some drunk girl's apartment 8 blocks away. These kids will make you wait, demand to use your AUX cord to blast their terrible music, and puke in your car. For a $5 ride? Go Bruins.
When I started driving for Uber two years ago I noticed that it was always surging in Hermosa, Manhattan, and Redondo Beach almost every night. When I finally took the bait (after dropping someone off at LAX) I saw why. There was lots of demand, very few Ubers, but every ride was less than 2 miles on average and often much shorter. Everyone was drunk, young, predictably rude and entitled, and they never knew where they wanted to go. One person would get in, call their friend(s) asking "Where are you? But we aren't going there, are we? What? I CAN'T HEAR YOU! Put Billy on! But I don't want to go there!" Fuck the beach communities. The reason it surges there is because no driver wants to enter that Bermuda Triangle and waste a good night taking people on short trips all night. Also the cops hate Ubers there and will ticket you for anything.
This is where I differ from most Uber drivers. Most drivers hate rides that come from grocery store pick-ups because the odds are very high that it will be a short trip that will include helping someone with a lot of bags and heavy items. I have not found that to always be the case. If it's on a weekend sometimes it's someone heading to a party with several cases of beverages, a large cake, and/or a couple of bags of ice; and I don't mind helping out party people because I have been in their shoes once upon a time. But beware, many other drivers don't look at it that way. They are nervous that taking groceries in and out of the car may cause scratches and dents and the ice might leak. Don't be surprised if a few of your drivers cancel.
If you can find your passenger there in the cluster, you're going to have a decent trip. But finding them is close to impossible. When 10,000 people file out of a concert and they all stand around the giant Bowl marquee, and the LAPD refuses to let you even pause there to try to identify your passenger, and there's tons of traffic, and the cell phone reception is horrible, you learn quickly to avoid the Bowl. I recommend that anyone who wants to get an Uber after seeing a show there simply walk down the hill to the gas station on Franklin and Highland. It's a pleasant walk, you can get a bootleg T-shirt for $5 and a bacon wrapped dog for $4. But most importantly you'll be able to get an Uber in minutes and avoid the congestion.
Everyone loves food trucks but Uber drivers hate Venice on the first Friday of each month because the ONLY place people want you to take them is Abbot Kinney. It couldn't be more annoying. It doesn't matter if you pick up some millionaire in Marina Del Rey or a housewife in Palms, on First Fridays every ride is short and they're all going to the same congested intersection to eat from the same damn food trucks that they could find any other night of the week. Often what experienced drivers will do after dropping off their first First Friday passenger is turn off their phone and drive to Hollywood or DTLA, otherwise every ping will be to the same destination.
Now That You Know This, What Can You Do As A Passenger?
It's not your fault if you're a 19-year-old frat boy on 28th Street and you want to go to the Taco Bell drive-thru on Vermont and 36th late at night. Your driver is going to hate you when you drunkenly slur your request to him. So here are some tips:
Be prepared, have a few bucks in your pocket. Hand it over to the driver as soon as you get in the car and it will erase his bad attitude immediately. That is what I do when I take any ride that will be less than $8. It's amazing what two or three bucks can do.
If you are at a grocery store, wheel your cart to a neighboring building, like a drug store or a nail salon. Then type that store into the app. If "Helen's Nails" pops up on the app, the driver is far more likely not to cancel on you than if it says "Jons."
But the best thing you can do as a passenger is listen to the words of the Grateful Dead and "please be kind." Driving for Uber is an increasingly tough job. The attitudes and behaviors of the passengers make all the difference in the world. I say this with peace and love.
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