Drivers can preserve their sanity by staying “neutral” in their thinking about their passengers and other rideshare driving experiences.
Since I was a boy I’ve been a fan of the thoughts and ideas presented in Dr. Normal Vincent Peale’s book titled The Power of Positive Thinking published in 1952. My Dad was an avid reader and over the years recommended books he thought I would appreciate.
I’ve added to my life-long pursuit of positive thinking the idea of working on staying neutral about the events of my life, for this blog I’ve provided a reference to a very good article “Stop being positive and just cultivate neutrality for existential cool.”
In order to have neutral thinking when I’m rideshare driving… I endeavor to not label events and people in my rideshare driving days as “good” or “bad.”
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (2.2.239-240) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
For my rideshare driver readers, imagine a group of passengers who at the pickup make you cringe (because of your personal belief systems.) If you resist the urge to cringe instead think neutral about them… give them the chance to “show up” as the human beings they are rather than who you might think they are… it could end up being a “Top 10” trip!
It was early afternoon in Boulder, Colorado (college town) and I picked up four young women at a location I know is college student housing. I resisted the urge to think “College girls, ugg.”
They got into my car, were obviously happy and polite, greeted me asking if I was having a good day. I started the trip in the rideshare driving application and saw it was a pretty short trip.
Groups of passengers usually make their own conversation, so I started driving believing my role was probably going to be the silent driver.
Soon after we started moving one of the women in the backseat said: "Wow, I think this is my first time riding in an Uber sober!"
Now my goal is to almost always to pretend I’m not listening to passenger conversations… “be a fly on the wall.” But when appropriate I am known to laugh with enthusiasm… in this case my response probably could be described as a guffaw, I laughed loudly.
We started talking, mostly with the front seat passenger, but there was no other conversation happening in the back seat, we were all involved.
During the short trip the conversation included the fact that the front seat passenger would be “horrified” to throw up in a rideshare vehicle.
To that I replied: “Thank you!” and went on to say that most of us travelling in a buddy's vehicle would say: “Dude pull over now!” while we were rolling down the window to hurl out the window if the event happened before pulling over and opening the door.
I said: “Better to throw up on the side of the car not inside right?”
They all agreed, and we talked about other “proper” behavior when taking a rideshare vehicle.
I’m telling you the comments I heard on that trip were “spot on!” and if every college student ride followed the basic rules we discussed… I would never think about cringing and thinking: “College students, ugg!”
They were appalled to hear my story about three Boulder college girls willing to put a friend in my car solo when the friend couldn’t even walk down the sidewalk without falling down… even with two people attempting to hold her up!
They agreed putting a girlfriend who was falling-down drunk alone in a rideshare vehicle was a serious break of the “girl code.”
I refused that trip because it is against my personal rideshare code to take a falling-down drunk home as the only passenger.
When I was a new driver I transported a few overly-drunk passengers home on a solo ride and I started asking myself questions… “Where does it end? Help them to their door? Help them find their keys and unlock the door? Take them inside? Tuck them into bed?”
When something feels “wrong” to me about the rideshare driving “gig” I tend to ask myself questions… for example if I get a new idea what I might be willing to add to my rideshare driving routine I ask myself: “Am I willing to do that with every new trip, for the next 9,000 trips?” The answer is usually “No.”
Every rideshare driver manages their own vehicle and their own passenger trips (including sometimes saying “No”) and I only have a few “unbreakable rules” and not transporting solo falling down drunks is one of them.
In my book about the day-to-day aspects of driving for Uber and Lyft, I share my “Unbreakable Rules” and a very simple process for getting misbehaving passengers out of my car with no fuss… here’s a hint… I don’t yell, and I use only about a dozen words, repeating when necessary. I also spend a few pages about how and when I say “No” to passenger expectations.
In over 9,000 lifetime trips as a driver on the Uber and Lyft platforms I’ve only had to say (figuratively speaking): “You’re outta here!” about six times; but it does happen and once I figured out this part of rideshare driving I stopped worrying the next trip would be “one of those.”
I want my rideshare driving days to be routine and stress-free.
Part of how I accomplish this goal is knowing exactly how much I’m earning as a rideshare driver, my “Take Home Pay.”
My second book is about the business side of rideshare driving and in it, I provide a four-step process to calculate “cost-per-mile” for you personal vehicle because everyone’s answer to this question will be different.
It’s really hard to stay positive at the same time neutral in your thinking if you’re worrying about the financial aspects of your rideshare driving “gig.”
Both books cover in detail how I maximize my earnings as a rideshare driver.
So anyway, back to my four fun women trip… because Boulder is a “contained” small city (mostly short, less-profitable trips) I normally drive out of Boulder soon after a trip takes me there. On that day I stuck around for a few hours and to my surprise when I pulled up to the curb in front of the location where I had dropped off my fun “girls” there they were again!
They were waving to me as soon as they saw me pull up and when I recognized it was the same group I waved back, smiling widely and genuinely pleased to get them again.
We laughed and had lots of fun on the short trip back to the same spot I picked them up a couple of hours earlier.
Main Takeaway: The reason I think this is an important story is because staying “neutral” about passengers can pay off… because it allows passengers to surprise and delight you.
It is also important to remember that unless you rate passengers three stars or less you could get them again… when getting the same passengers on a future trip it serves the driver to have a rule to always be professional, because even if you don’t remember the previous trip, it’s very likely the passengers will remember you.