Rideshare Driving Social Experiment – Report from the Front Lines

What Driving for Uber Revealed to Me About San Francisco

The article referenced for this blog highlights aspects of rideshare driving that get zero attention in most online news stories. 

It also gives me the opportunity to say something I’ve never said publicly… but I’ll save that to the end of the blog.

The author shares what she believes she learned about the people in her home city, San Francisco, and touches on what she believes she’s learned about people and herself while completing rideshare passenger trips.

Earning Income on Your Own Terms

Her personal story, why she drives rideshare, puts welcome light on a very real aspect of being a rideshare driver… the ability to earn income on your terms and provide an opportunity to dig out from financial setbacks and/or accelerate progress toward a “stretch” financial goal:

The author writes about getting laid off from more than one presumably well-paid tech position and how rideshare driving has made a real difference in her life:

“Paying down my debt faster while also saving for a down payment on a house was suddenly feasible thanks to the gig economy.”

Refreshing to see an online story saying anything good about rideshare driving. 

I get it, “bad” news sells advertising. 

In the case of the rideshare industry stories about drivers sleeping in their cars; or supposedly being financially and emotionally exploited in all manner of ways; articles sounding praise for the latest new law which when passed will “change the nature of the gig economy” or “bring Uber to it’s knees”… headlines that sound shocking or suggesting the content will be meaningful entice lots of people to click the headline to read the story… lots of clicks means a website's paid advertising is viewed… which means revenue generated for the website.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m all for revenue, heck I own a business and I hope lots of people read my blogs about rideshare driving and take advantage of the ridiculously low prices for my rideshare driving training manuals… but I digress.

I absolutely love this article!!! 

Overcoming Stereotypes about Rideshare Drivers and their Social Status

The author writes about her perception that at least some of her passengers seemed to view her differently (more positively) when they learned more about their driver… about her personal story.

“One day, I drove a passenger who started being incredibly condescending to me the second he got into my car.

Eventually, he asked why a girl like me would drive for Uber, and I told him my reasons and that fortunately, it was a choice for me.

He asked me about my [traditional day] job and became much nicer. That night, I saw that he had somehow found me on LinkedIn and sent me an InMail.

What prompted this attitude change?

After that, my side hustle became a social experiment.”

I agree driving for Lyft and Uber can be a life-changing social experience for drivers… it can also be a source of seemingly endless frustration… for drivers who don’t have their “minds right.”

Obviously every driver’s experience will be different… in my opinion anyone who chooses to rideshare driver more than a month or two… more than a few dozen passenger trips… will have opportunities to learn a lot… the author says she learned about her city and other people… during my 14,000+ trips I’ve learned a lot about myself.

From the referenced article:

“When you drive for Uber, it’s assumed that you are of a certain intelligence, ability, and socioeconomic status, and it’s on you to prove that you’re not.”

I don’t agree with this statement… at least not entirely.

Without a doubt some passengers will make assumptions about their drivers simply because the driver is behind the wheel of the Uber or Lyft vehicle picking them up.  Some of these assumptions by passengers will be less than positive.

In my case, for the first year or more driving full-time hours I often heard myself telling passengers about my college degrees; my 20 year tech career; my 15 years in direct customer service roles.  Sometimes the passenger asked about my background… but usually I was inserting my personal accomplishments into unrelated conversations.

Once I had thousands of lifetime trips as a Lyft and Uber driver, I would work my current lifetime trip number into conversations: “I have over 3,000 lifetime trips…”

When my lifetime trip number got over 10,000 I noticed myself bringing up my lifetime trip number more often.

I told myself (rationalized to myself) I wasn’t bragging or wanting my passengers to know I was more than “a lowly rideshare driver.”  I told myself passengers would feel more comfortable in my car knowing I had lots of experience as a driver and in life.

I wanted my passengers to see me in a positive light… it took a long time to realize my actions proved I didn’t always see myself in a positive light… at least not as a rideshare driver.

Eventually I realized what I believe is a deeper truth about myself… in my case the social experiment and most of what I've learned isn’t so much about my passengers… what I’ve learned is not at all about the social constructs of Denver, the city where I drive… the most important findings from my rideshare driving social experiment have always been primarily about me… it just took me a few years to figure that one out.

Yep… like The Grinch that tried to steal Christmas I eventually realized completing thousands of rideshare driving trips gave me the opportunity to better understand my own ways of thinking… understand better how I really view other people; the world; and my place in it.

Don’t worry I’m not going sappy in this blog… and I’m not going to share some kind of grandiose meaning of life moment…

I love the contents of the referenced article because the author's experience helped me realize my “problem” (if there ever was one) was not with the way my passengers might view me… or even with the way human nature causes most of us to unconsciously judge the people we meet based on minimal information (like being a rideshare driver means I must be [whatever.]

The “problem” was with me and the way I viewed myself… specifically my feeling that being a rideshare driver was somehow beneath me. 

Understand I never consciously thought this about myself… but again observing my actions told a different story.

I’ve always been clear why I choose to be a Lyft and Uber driver… to earn income!  In three and half years of full-time driving this has never changed.

Thinking about the way I interacted with some passengers has me realizing I wasn’t always clear with myself… I never owe any stranger an apology or explanation about who I am or what I choose to do with my time.

So, here’s the thing I’ve never said before publicly about rideshare driving… which is saying something because I’ve written two books and countless white papers, Quora responses, and blogs.

Social Aspects of Rideshare Driving Cause Some New Drivers to Quit

I think some drivers quit because they decide being a rideshare driver is “not right” for them… when more accurately they were not prepared for unexpected consequences that can come from the social interactions with passengers. 

If you’ve never been a Lyft or Uber driver you can probably imagine some passengers will be challenging to interact with… and most likely your thinking about dealing with intoxicated people in your vehicle.

Even if you have given rideshare driving a try it’s difficult… if not impossible… to imagine that seemingly normal interactions with everyday people might cause you to question who you really are or how you are choosing to live your life?

Most people can handle talking with strangers about the weather or plans for the weekend… but few of us (including me) are fully prepared for interactions that bring up thoughts and feelings about ourselves.

Research consistently reports that most new rideshare drivers stop driving soon after their first passenger trip.  Typically, I’ve read about 50% of new drivers quit in the first 30 days; a total of 75% in the first 90 days; and a year later less than 10% of new drivers are still completing passenger trips.

When I share these statistics with my passengers it's common for them to ask me why I think so many drivers quit.

In my typical answer I say some drivers quit because don't understand the math, the business side of being a rideshare driver, and question if they’re really making enough income to cover their vehicle expenses and still be worth their time.

I also say some drivers quit because they weren't prepared for how it feels to have interactions with strangers in the close confines of your personal vehicle.  Unless you've been a taxi driver being a Lyft driver and/or Uber driver is unlike any job you've ever had.

Until this blog I've never said I believe a significant number of drivers quit because they weren't prepared for the feelings about themselves that were stirred up along the way.  I suspect few if any of these drivers would say that’s why they quit… it’s always easier for us (again including me) to look outside ourselves for answers that can only be found by looking within.

I'll finish this blog post with a no apologies pitch for reading my books. 

I believe my life experience;  professional background [https://www.linkedin.com/in/wyleepost/]; and 14,000+ trips/3.5 years as a rideshare driver make me the perfect person to write two books… two “training manuals” defining exactly how to be a successful rideshare driver.

Driving for Uber and Lyft - How Much Can Drivers Earn? covers the business side of rideshare driving and answers every question you’re likely to have on that topic.

How to Be a Lyft and Uber Driver – The Unofficial Driver’s Manual covers everything else and again answers all your questions as well as some questions you hadn't even thought to ask.

If you have questions now (or after you've read my books) reserve a place on my calendar for a free 10 minute phone conversation... I'll answer any question about rideshare driving you want to ask.

FYI – I recently launch my next rideshare driving social experiment… I’m forcing myself to never bring up my experience, background, and most importantly my lifetime trip number… so far it’s not been easy… if I learn anything worth sharing you’ll read about it here on RideshareBusinessGuide.com.

Rideshare Driving Social Experiment – Report from the Front Lines