Friday, January 22, 2016

There and Back with FOUR Uber drivers

Trips x  two; Uber times FOUR

In November RantWoman heard a presentation about Uber. 5 of the 15 people who had tried Uber had  had trouble about drivers not wanting to accommodate seeing Eye Dogs. Of these, one person said she uses Uber all the time and has trouble about her seeing eye dog only a small percentage of the time.

So RantWoman has the impression that at least SOME Uber drivers know things that are helpful for blind people. RantWoman though does not have a seeing eye dog and therefore appreciates it when drivers realize other things, both RantWoman's perspective and the reality that learning how to be a good sighted guide for people with a lot less vision will probably also prove valuable.

Here was RantWoman's maiden experience:

Dear Uber

Have you considered something like pizza delivery persons have to identify vehicles?

One reason RantWoman asks: when she finally did connect to a wonderful African American woman driver, the third in her morning queue, and almost arrive at her destination, a wrong turn in a parking lot yielded such a stupendous display of #DrivingWhileBlack issues on the part of someone tending the parking lot that RantWoman just kept her white college educated mouth closed until the interaction was over. RantWoman is not SURE that something clearly identifying the vehicle as an Uber trip would have helped, but thinks it might be worth a try.

RantWoman also thinks something to clearly identify vehicles might be VERY helpful if passengers are trying to meet their rides. Around RantWoman though, there tend to be multiple people getting picked up and being driven to different destinations. This means it also is VERY helpful if drivers step outside their vehicles and ask for the name of the passenger.

RantWoman further notes that although she herself can see the car and see that there is a driver in a car, RantWoman really cannot tell anything else meaningful unless a driver gets out of their car and uses their words to announce RantWoman's name.

Here RantWoman would further point out that she can imagine a number of circumstances where the name of the passenger might be different from the name of the person who booked the ride. When a driver did finally announce something, it was the name of the person who booked the ride, not RantWoman, but that was PROGRESS!

A couple days ago, RantWoman was supposed to get picked up at time T. RantWoman had stirred around early and was already outside on her building's breezeway sitting on a bench, doing the kinds of things people do on benches while waiting for a ride: digesting some Twitter, fussing with the email about the ride, checking her hair...

First a grey car pulled up closely enough for RantWoman to see but apparently not for the driver to see RantWoman. RantWoman is happy to concede the possibility that she is starting to look a little like the woman in the "When I am Old I will Wear Purple" poem and therefore might be becoming invisible to Uber drivers. If only the invisibility cloak also came with a magic carpet so that Uber drivers were unnecessary. But RantWoman digresses. 

The first driver did actually make a couple loops in the parking lot but never got out of the car before pulling out. The second driver got close, and phone the person who booked the ride rather than RantWoman which would have been an option. RantWoman through the person who booked the ride was able to direct the driver to the place he or she could have picked up RantWoman, had the driver exited the car and asked for RantWoman.

People get picked up all the time from RantWoman's building.  RantWoman also can think of MANY circumstances where the person ordering the ride might not be the person being picked up and does not know what went awry this time.

Look folks, RantWoman Arms, the housing complex where RantWoman lives was in below-average scary mode. RantWoman has a neighbor who is just really good at growing brain tumors; her husband can be seen outside at all hours sending his tensions up in smoke; he was doing that on that morning. There was a family getting the day off to a rocky start. There were some other folks coming in. Trust RantWoman on this, the parking lot was in way below average scary mode.
The Verdict:
RantWoman  is still digesting her experience. RantWoman's outbound trip, it took THREE tries before rantWoman's journey got moving; the return trip was lovely, simple and enriched by lively conversation. RantWoman's interest in conversation while traveling though also varies: sometimes time in a car creates wonderful opportunities for conversation. Sometimes RantWoman is happy on mass transit just shutting up. Perhaps that is enough for now.

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