Since Uber’s mobile app debuted back in 2010, the San Francisco start-up has grown into a sensation that threatens to upend the taxi industry and change the way people navigate their cities. In the new issue of GQ, writer Mickey Rapkin decided to get a first-hand look at life as an UberX driver—the company’s budget option, where regular folks act as de facto cabbies. As you might expect, Rapkin's findings are as illuminating, hilarious, and frustrating as you might imagine driving intoxicated urbanites would be. Here are some key insights from the piece:
Uber is wild:
GIRL #1: She wants to get wild.
GIRL #2: I mean, I'm already wild.
ROPE BRACELETS: You want to take it in the ass.
GIRL #1: Listen, I'm not even going to comment on that. She wanted to get wild, and it had nothing to do with a dick in the ass.
GIRL #2: That's what getting wild is these days. It's getting it in the ass.
Suddenly, Girl #1 seems to remember that there's a stranger (me) in the car. “Are you enjoying this conversation right now?” she asks. Yeah, kinda, I think to myself. “By the way, our friend wanted us to squeeze six people in this car. We were like, That's not going to happen.”
GIRL #1: Safety first.
GIRL #2: Fucking safety first.
Uber is awkward:
There were rookie mistakes, too. Like the time a financial analyst/bro-fessional got into my car and proceeded to make a work call. I tried to shut off the automated voice on my GPS—Turn left in 500 feet!—but accidentally pressed “play” on a Tegan and Sara song instead. Or the time this massive dude riding solo sat next to me in the front seat (weird) and reached for his wallet at the end of the ride. “I'm sorry,” I said, “we're not allowed to accept tips.” He looked at me, confused: “I was getting my phone.” Oh. ($8.)
Uber requires decorum:
Doing this job, I learned quickly that there's an unspoken contract between driver and passenger, and it has two primary clauses. First: I promise to get you safely and comfortably from Point A to Point B. Second, and just as important: I vow to look the other way while you, say, make out in the backseat (that happened) or refer a friend to your coke dealer (that, too). It's an understanding, arrived at with no words: We'll never see each other again, therefore you may act like an animal. The job can also be pretty lonely. Late one night, I stopped at a 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee, and I found myself all too happy to chat with a traffic cop who looked like Retta from Parks and Rec and who warned me not to put French-vanilla creamer in my coffee. “There's something wrong with milk that doesn't need to be refrigerated,” she said. “That fake milk will kill you.”
Uber is titillating:
But the thrill—and it is thrilling—is the semi-sanctioned voyeurism. The conversations you're pulled into. The worlds you're privy to. The unknown pockets of the city you're suddenly navigating. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't something sexual about the whole thing, too. Early one morning, I picked up a guy in West Hollywood and drove him to his hotel. We made eye contact in the rearview more times than could be called accidental, and when I pulled up to the lobby, I thought for a moment that he was going to ask me in. “It's been a long week,” he said. It sounded like an invitation. (id="mce_marker"4.)
Uber is not particularly lucrative:
I took home $312 on twenty-four rides.
Uber is charming:
They kissed. Kissed again. Then she laughed.
“When are you going to trim your beard?” she said with a teasing smile. “It feels like I'm kissing pubic hair.”