Working New Years in Washington DC
My wife and I recently took an Uber to run some errands. Our driver Jerry (not real name) lives in Virginia Beach but came up to Washington DC in order to visit family and make some money over the holiday weekend.
Bryan: Happy New Year!
Jerry: Happy New Year! How did you spend it?
Bryan: Flying back from Ukraine. We’re both really jet-lagged. How are you doing? Must have been a busy this weekend.
Jerry: I live in Virginia Beach but came to visit my parents. I decided to work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – one ride after another! I made almost six hundred dollars! I’ll head back tonight when I am done working. Getting back to Virginia Beach when there is no traffic is really easy.
Bryan: But when there is…
Bryan: Did you have some interesting experiences passengers over the weekend?
Jerry: Everyone was drunk. Women get chatty when they have been drinking a lot. Men get quiet and put their heads down. I’ve noticed that. One couple got into the car and the man had a plastic trash back he was holding. I told them that they needed to let me know if he was going to throw up so I could pull over. The guy might have missed the bag as drunk as he was. I really don’t need to be smelling that.
Bryan: How long have you been driving with Uber?
Jerry: About four months now. Mainly evenings and weekends. I work for (a defense contractor) and that’s why I am in Virginia Beach. They will send me back to Washington DC next year. Summer in Virginia Beach is hopping but no one comes in the winter. Being able to make some extra money when I have the time for it has been really helpful.
Bryan: So what’s the strangest experience you’ve had as a driver?
Jerry: I went to pick up a passenger and when I got to the apartment building, his girlfriend or wife was throwing all of his stuff out of the second story window into the courtyard. I don’t know what he did but she wasn’t happy about it.
Bryan: If you don’t mind my asking, are you from Ghana maybe?
Jerry: Yes, how did you know?
Bryan: Your accent is very slight but I thought I recognized it.
Jerry: You’ve been to Ghana?
Bryan: No but I would really like to visit. We used to have a few Ghanian restaurants in Washington DC but I don’t think anymore.
Jerry: There are some in Virginia. What Ghanaian food do you like?
Bryan: Joloff rice, peanut stew, fufu….
Jerry: The food is so much better in Ghana than anywhere around here. You really should visit. Ghana is awesome. We have great music, beaches, everything. I took some friends with me to Ghana for two weeks and they didn’t want to leave.
Bryan: Is there a big international presence in Ghana these days?
Jerry: Very much. We have people from all over the world – Europeans, Chinese, Lebanese, you name it. A lot of Italians lately. There are Italian restaurants popping up all over in Accra now. It’s a peaceful place and Ghanians are very welcoming to foreigners.
Bryan: I’m going to say I knew you when you are the Prime Minister someday.
Jerry: (chuckles) We’ll see!
Bryan: Is it easy to get flights to other African countries from Ghana? From some African countries, you still need to transfer in Europe just to go to another country in the same region.
Jerry: I think the connections are improving. For sure, you can get to South Africa and Nigeria from Ghana – you know, where the money is.
Bryan: Do you have any advice for people considering driving for Uber?
Jerry: Two things. Always tell the drunk ones that you need to pull over if they are going to throw up. Then, just be aware of the fact that when picking up passengers, you won’t know where their destination is until they are in the car. The purpose of that is to keep uber drivers from rejecting passengers because of where they are going. Sometimes you might drive fifteen minutes to pick up someone who only needs to go a mile away – considering the cost of gas you will barely make anything. Other times, you will have people going long distances. It balances out.
Bryan: Ok, that’s us over there. Have a great year!
Jerry: I’ve got a bottle of Courvoisier in the trunk and my New Year’s party starts as soon as I get back to Virginia Beach. Have a good one too!