Life in the big city is always tricky. As someone who lives and spent a major portion of his life in a relatively minor city such as Mysore, working in the big cities such as Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai and others is always a little imposing. Ignoring all the other stuff that comes with big cities (high cost of food, crime rate, lingual and cultural differences), perhaps the most scariest part has to be travelling within city. Big cities grow too fast for their own good and public infrastructure is always playing catch up to growing demands.
That is why, services such as Uber are so important. As I keep adding months to my consultant experience, I allow myself that luxury of being able to pick and choose my assignments. The whole process of choosing an assignment depends on dozens of factors and the availability of Uber has become an essential factor. Since Uber started in India, I must have taken over a 1000 trips. Yeah, that is not a typo.
There are alternatives available but I prefer Uber as my driving partner for a number of reasons. First up, my quantum of trips along with the large amount of data mining that a big company like Uber almost certainly does means my business history is available to them. That means, by design or by accident, I almost always get priority customer support. The priority customer support (something that I enjoy from my bank and other service providers I use so regularly) is something I enjoy.
Then there is the fantastic professionalism that Uber has maintained despite cut throat competition. It will be a year or two until the app based taxi services industry matures. One of the first things that go down the hill in a cut throat business is professionalism. The user interface of the app itself is great and there is a certain consistency to its fairs as well as the driver behavior.
The driver behavior…and the drivers! Ah, that is the best part is it not. While I am something of a loner in my life (I have like may be five friends) I am not an introvert. Heck, I would not pick a career as a consultant if not for my ability to strike up conversations with completely random strangers. The drivers, are folks who are almost always, extremely chatty. Of course, it takes a certain level of understanding to actually keep an open conversation with them and it just so happens that I am expert in that.
During the dozens of conversations I have with the drivers every week, I get so much. I learn about the local news, politics, government stuff, people stuff and just so many things. Sometimes, I end up talking about software development, and other times, they end up telling me about how cars and the taxi business works. Other times it is the constant complaints about the traffic situation. There is almost always so much to talk about, and when the ride ends, both the driver and I would like to continue the conversation. In these scenarios, if it is the end of the work day, I usually ask the driver to join me for a cup of tea and we end up talking even more. After that, the driver moves on and, well, I will never see him again. It’s one of those classic movie situations where you meet some random person, engage some pleasant words and then they simply disappear.
If there is one thing that bothers me a lot is how some passengers treat the drivers. A lot of folks seem to think that a driver is someone beneath them. I have heard (and seen) folks literally drive the driver crazy with unreasonable requests. Then, when things escalate, many a times, it is the driver who comes out on the wrong end of the conclusion and arguments. I don’t if the folks who are reading this blog are also Uber passengers but if you are an Uber passenger, just take it easy with the driver. Like you and me, he is a tax payer who also wants to do his job.