- Many of my passengers are drunk. Though the experience varies from one fare to another, the greatest challenge with drunk passengers is when they distract me. They tend to be chatty, loud, and some of them touch me. I don't like it when a stranger rubs my shoulders or rests their head on my side. It is weird. And just because I am agreeing with whatever you say, don't ask me to shake your hand while I'm driving!
- People say things in front of me about their private lives. They tell me about their arrest record, their drug use, and their sexual escapades. I really am a nerd, because I crave more intelligent conversation than this.
- I picked up an escort who wore nothing but a skimpy bikini. She spent most of the ride arranging a transaction with her drug dealer. Must be an expensive habit because she needed $200 worth of whatever he was bringing her.
- A group of teens and 20-somethings decided they were going to smoke a cigarette in my backseat, after I told them not to. I guess they figured with the windows down and the girl in front distracting me that I wouldn't notice the smell. Guess what? The passenger after you doesn't want to smell your cigarettes. The entire trip they debated whether they should roll on molly, get faded on acid, or just get drunk. At least I'm learning the slang these young folks are using these days.
- Waiting time is time lost. In Tampa Bay, Uber pays mileage plus time. Time is paid at $.13 per minute, less Uber's 20% commission. That means I make $.10/minute waiting on my passenger. Six dollars an hour is less than minimum wage. Many of my passengers have needed to make stops. A couple minutes is not a problem, but having me wait 15 minutes while you get dressed means I am losing out on more lucrative work.
- This last example is location specific: sand. Since I am spending much of my time picking up passengers on Clearwater Beach, I am also picking up their sand. I'm going to have to vacuum out my car almost daily.
- Very few people tip. The later into the night it gets, the fewer the tips. My best tips have come from daytime passengers, and most of those have been short trips. Few of my longer fares (say, from the beach to Tampa) have tipped.
What I am learning is that the best passengers are my daytime pickups. People on their way to work are usually sober and respectful of my car. My favorite rides are the ones where I am tipped, since only then do I make a reasonable income. I don't mind driving a group of tourists half a mile if they give me a $5 tip, because I'm going to get another fare as soon as I drop them off. Sometimes the passengers with the shortest trips feel bad though and will tip me for the trouble.