Ola or uber? Stuck in the dilemma at four in the night, exhausted, I couldn’t decide which service I should use. I was aware of all the news about taking cabs at night and was warned by my protective mother not to travel at night. But I went forward with booking an Uber because people gave me good reviews about their service. And within a few minutes I got a confirmation of my booking and in the nick of time he arrived at my location. I got into the car to begin my two hour long journey to my home.
With old song playing in the background on the radio, I was just looking outside and enjoying the silence around me. The silence was making me sleepy when I realized that I couldn’t afford to sleep until I reached home. I had to kill the stillness so I asked him which city he belonged to, to which he replied Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Hearing that I felt excited and a bit relaxed as I’m from Uttar Pradesh myself and it’s always good to know people from home.
Our conversation hence began and the unsteady silence just vanished. We talked about the city and the fast moving life. I got to know a lot about the life of an Uber driver. Considering the hard work they do, a driver is paid a fair amount for their work. They are given a target of completing ten rides in a day for which they get paid accordingly. Day-to-day income varies on the basis of the customers they drive or the achieved target. The driver told me that some days when luck is in his favour, he gets more than ten rides and some days are as bad as getting no rides at all. He manages to make a salary of Rs. 20,000 a month approximately in which he has to manage his family’s needs. Though being self employed as an Uber driver has its perks, the driver said that he missed his family the most. Although, his love for driving was fulfilled, staying away in a strange land was difficult. But this mode of employment for a person who had minimal level of education, helped him in earn quite well. He was entirely a cab driving enthusiast, telling me why it was the greatest job for a person like him.
He also mentioned the system of ratings which was practiced. The driver had to make sure that he provides his best service to earn five stars for which the company gives further rewards and incentives to the driver. Uber’s five-star rating system provides an additional level of scrutiny that allows passengers to assess their driver’s behaviour. When passengers are matched with a driver, they are able to see this rating along with the driver’s name, license plate number and photo; and have GPS data which is logged for every trip to ensure that drivers are taking the best route every time.
He then told me how different customers had different topics to talk about and how he would just quietly hear them talking. He added further that he got many pick-ups where the customers were women and most of them, like me, were worried or scared of travelling alone. He made sure that they are comfortable and they feel safe during their ride.
I was still curious to know the reason behind his working this hard. He was very hesitant to talk first but then he told me that he, like every other person in Mumbai, came here with a dream. He had a goal of starting his own transportation service company someday and be his own boss. He told me all about his ideas of how the company he’s going to run will provide services to people in emergency just like an ambulance and will have several amenities inside the car which will come handy to his customers during their time of need.
With our uninterrupted conversation I didn’t realize that I had reached home safely. I wished him luck and paid him the amount for his service. He wished me good night, asked me to give him the ratings which were a part of his service and left. This was a very unusual experience for me which was a good memory of a good ride back home where I got to know such an ambitious person and gained a little motivation too.