Learning While Driving

I took a Lyft into Washington DC not long ago. My driver Dawit (not real name) has been driving for years. Along the way, he has picked up some stories and observations about driving. A summary of the conversation follow:

Bryan: I called you with Lyft but I see an Uber sticker on the window. You drive for both, right?

Dawit: With Uber, the demand is non-stop but you make less money as a driver. With Lyft, you make more money but there is less demand. So I switch back and forth and that works well.

Bryan: How long have you been driving for Lyft and Uber?

Dawit: With Uber, five years now.

Bryan: You must have seen some strange things driving for all that time.

Dawit: I think all drivers have. Honestly, the strangest thing is when someone tries to scam you by pretending they are from Uber of Lyft. What happens is your phone rings and the number comes up as if Uber HQ is calling you. The perspn on the phone then says they need to verify drivers and then they ask you for personal information like social security numbers or credit care numbers. When you tell them no, they say that you will not be verified and can’t work for them anymore. I tell them ok, that’s fine, but I won’t be giving personal information. This happened to me twice with Uber and once with Lyft.

Bryan: That’s crazy that people are trying to scam Uber and Lyft drivers.

Dawit: I do have a funny story though. I picked up a lady from her apartment complex who was taking Uber Pool into Washington DC. We drove around the corner and right then another Uber Pool pick up was called from the same apartment complex. I drove us back there, which she wasn’t happy about, but that’s how Uber Pool works. When we got there the other passenger was a neighbor from the apartment next door to her who she had never met – and they were going to the same bar in Washington DC.

Bryan: Funny! Hey, I see you have plastic on the floor back here. That’s smart. Do you drive late at night?

Dawit: I used to but drunk people are difficult to manage so I won’t drive past 10:00. I don’t want anyone to throw up in my car.

Bryan: When was the last time that happened?

Dawit: I picked up a woman and her friend early in the morning. They get in the car, I am driving, and then I hear noises in the back. I turn around and the women in the back seat is throwing up. So I assume that she must be hung over or something but then she tells me she is pregnant. She had morning sickness. I felt bad for her. When someone throws up in the car, Lyft or Uber will negotiate a fee with the driver. The woman was very apologetic. Uber asked her to pay eighty dollars but she sent me a check for one hundred and fifty dollars which was nice.

Bryan: What do you like  best about being a driver?

Dawit: I learn a lot from being a driver. Some of the conversations are very interesting. Sometimes i feel like I am sitting in on a lecture at a university.  I have heard such interesting conversations about things I didn’t even know about.

Bryan: I live in Ukraine now. Sometimes I think I should buy a car so I can be an Uber driver, practice Russian, and become more conversational.

Dawit: Kak Dela? (“How Are you” in Russian)

Bryan: Narmalna! (“Normal” in Russian). Where did you learn Russian?

Dawit: I had a Russian teacher many years ago in Addis Ababa. He taught me Physics and also some Russian. Isn’t Ukraine a dangerous place right now?

Bryan: In the east, there is a conflict that Russia started and is perpetuating.  It’s a bad situation out there but it is very far from Kyiv.  Think about when Ethiopia and Eritrea fight at the border – you’d never know it in Addis Ababa, right?

Dawit: Ah, ok. And what’s the main religion there?

Bryan: Most people are Orthodox Christian – but there also Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and others.

Dawit: Most of us in Ethiopia are also Orthodox. The same as the Coptic Christians in Egypt. Prior to World War II, Alexandria (Egypt) used to send their bishops to us in Ethiopia. But there were some disagreements that put an end to this.

Bryan: That’s where I’m getting off. Have a great weekend!

Dawit:  Da Svedenya!


Photo Credit: Denton’s.