If anyone ever asks me what the most frequent topic of conversation in my Uber is, I would have to say it’s the weather.
I know, boring conversation, right? (minus the Han Solo laser-blast here)
But think about it like this: you’re getting into a car with someone you have never met before. You hope they’re a good driver, don’t smell bad, but you don’t know anything else about them except what you read about them on the app. Since I don’t view the Uber app as a dating profile, I don’t have anything other than what Uber requires me to have (name, picture, from San Antonio, speaks English). I could add more but I don’t want any rider thinking they’re reading a dating profile.
Speaking of the weather, it is a safe topic of conversation as long as you don’t bring up global warming, which is not a political issue to me but to some morons out there it is. Problem is, morons like to argue that point and arguing with a moron is like pounding your head against a brick wall. So I stick to temperature, precipitation, and forecast. In the summer I also give out the spiel about wearing loose-fitting clothing and a hat along with staying hydrated, but that’s just good public service on my part.
A lot of passengers will ask me the following questions if they want to talk about more than the weather. Sadly, I have developed a set of pretty canned responses to them.
– How long have I been driving for Uber? About a year and a half now and it will be two years either in March or April (I can’t quite remember which month I signed on but hopefully Uber will give me something other than a congratulations and update to one of my badges).
– Do you like driving for Uber? I tell them yes because honestly I do. I tell them I like the flexibility and the fact that of all the bosses I’ve ever had, I like myself the best (okay, I do get in a little wise-cracking sarcasm but sadly that flies over most people’s heads).
– Are you from San Antonio? Yes, I am. I was born here though sometimes I fail to mention that I lived in Houston for eleven years (but we did come back to San Antonio a lot back then, too). But I’ve lived here in this city for thirty out of my forty-four years so I say that makes me a native.
Now sometimes I do get asked if I have kids or am married. I tell people I don’t have human children but two fur-kids that bark and meow instead (though I’m sure that may describe human children on occasion). I’m not sure now if I will reveal my marital status of single to a male passenger because I’m still trying to decide if I should use Bruno or Valentina as my imaginary spouse.
Now if I have tourists in the car and I’m downtown with them, I will play tour guide and that’s a lot of fun actually. Lately people have been complimenting the city on how clean the streets are. In fact, I had one gentleman tell me he actually saw someone on their knees cleaning a stain off the sidewalk. I didn’t ask what that stain might have been.
Gauging whether or not someone wants to talk in your Uber is something that drivers have to learn like navigating and driving at the same time. It takes practice and the ability to accept that some of your jokes will fall flatter than a turd hitting a hot sidewalk. Also, you have to be know when to be positive and upbeat because if not, someone could ding you for it. Yes, there is a pre-written comment a rider can use to show they didn’t think you were Mary Poppins-level of practically-perfect. That doesn’t bother me and it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten that ding.
I was recently asked by a rider how I got such a high rating. I replied that I just do my best to be a good driver and that my passengers were very kind and generous to me in their ratings. I really wanted to say it’s because I like living better than dying in a car crash, can be positive and upbeat even when I really want to be a sarcastic, irreverent wise-ass, and that if someone doesn’t want to talk I let the radio take over the silence.
I don’t mind having a conversations with someone and I’ve had lots of good ones over my 4200+ rides. I’ve come to realize I’m not as much of a lame dumb-ass as I used to think I was, too. I still lean towards shyness but I will say this, if I don’t make any attempt at conversation some wanna-be passive-aggressive wise-ass will ding me with a less-than-five-star rating.
And it’s not that I’m afraid of getting dinged for a low rating, but I’m still trying to raise my rating by another hundredth of a point. Sadly that hundredth of a point seems to be like an impossible quest for the Holy Grail minus the killer rabbits and knights who say ‘ni’.
Maybe I should talk about getting a shrubbery instead of the weather.