The magnetic force of Uber

You read it all the time on the driver Facebook groups, “if you don’t like it quit,” and “stop complaining, you don’t have to do this.” And yes, we could all go find something else to do.  Because whether you’re in it for the money or you just drive out of boredom, there ARE other things to do…

But there seems to be something about Uber and Lyft that keep us coming back again and again.  What is the magnetic force of Uber?  I have a theory.  Read on.

My theory starts with the passenger I met who moved to Kansas from New York.  Beyond the open spaces and blue skies, this passenger related to me that when she first moved to Kansas she found the people to be “overly polite.”  To the point she wondered from the minute she touched down at Eisenhower (airport), just what our well mannered people wanted from her in return.  Just the simple “please,” and “thank you” were so unexpected and different than the culture she had left behind.

It got me to thinking about the words “thank you.  It’s something I say often but when I first started driving for Uber I was at a bit of a low point for me.  For a over a year I was feeling like there was a “kick me” sign pinned to my back.  From my car being totaled to my home being flooded and everything on either side and in between I had certainly come off a rough couple of years.

I started driving for Uber because I was running short every month.  A little too much month at the end of the money.  My very first day I turned on the app with a fair bit of apprehension not knowing what to expect.  I was relieved when I got my first ping and picked up a pilot, it was his first ride too.  And when I dropped him off he said, “Thank you, I enjoyed meeting you.”  He also gave me my first tip, but that’s another story.

The words “thank you” really felt good.  While I am sure to say please and thank you, I was brought up to have good manners, being on the receiving end was quite different.

The next ride I kind of flubbed the directions a bit.  But the customer was very understanding, apparently it happens with her location, and at the end she said, “Thank you.” And I said “Thank you!”

It felt really good to have that simple sign of appreciation.  And by the time I was finished driving for the day I felt really great for a change.  I was more relaxed and I had a good night’s sleep too. The more people said thank you to me, the more I reciprocated, the better I felt and the easier my rides were.  In fact I really can’t think of more than 3 or 4 occasions out of almost 1600 rides when I had any grumpy passengers.

Because I have a psych degree (and a natural interest in behaviors), I decided to do a bit of research on the effects of “thank you.”  Turns out that when you are told thank you, you become more motivated and productive.  I can certainly see how that’s true, think of the drivers who happily put in extended hours to make up the fare reductions Uber put in place.  Could it be that gratitude shown by passengers has helped motivate them?

(By the way, when someone says “thank you” to you, own it – don’t respond with “no problem.”  Just smile and say you’re welcome!)

When you say thank you, you become a happier person and you’re the kind of person people want to be around.  Could this lead to more 5 star ratings?  I had read early on that if you tell your passenger thank you for using Uber that you would get better ratings, could the fundamental effects of gratitude be the reason?

And I wonder if the reason I’ve had so few “altercations” with passengers is because the attitude that comes with gratitude helps you be more empathetic and reduces aggression.

Naturally, with the boost in my self esteem, I’ve seen a lot of great things happen because of driving for Uber.  So while yes, I do have a job (and it was because of Uber that I met my employer), I still enjoy driving.  And I can understand how others still drive despite the fact (yes, I do think it’s a fact) that there is little to no profitability in driving, especially with the gas prices going up.

It’s really hard to get out and drive for a company that just seems to trample on the very people providing the service.  It’s even more difficult when your passengers just get in and out of the car like you’ve installed a revolving door barely acknowledging your existence.

Let me make one suggestion, just try it for one day: tell every passenger thank you for using your service.  I would love to hear how that works out for you.

About uberg1rl 68 Articles
I've driven for Uber since October 2015, full and part-time. I started helping local drivers with tips and info. I have served as an Ambassador for UZURV, and now I'm an Ambassador for Lyft as well. I also help lead the local rideshare group.