by Celia Rivenbark


The Uber driver was courteous, careful and his car didn’t smell anything like coconut. We were off to a grand start.

We chatted amiably (no politics) and, exiting his small but spotless Nissan Versa, I was once again grateful for such a wonderful invention. When you need a ride in a hurry, it’s hard to beat Uber. Plus, there’s that whole visual on your phone screen. All those cars just a mile or two away vying for your business. Seeing them circle about with a sort of “Pick me!” neediness is strangely reassuring to me.

Of course, you don’t actually pick. Just like in real estate: it’s location, location, oh, I forget the rest of it.

The closest (even by a few yards, explained my driver) gets the fare and the rest retreat to lick their wounds. OK, maybe I’m being dramatic. They probably just went to the airport.

I’m embarrassingly new to Uber because, well, phone upgrade. I used to depend on friends with Uber accounts. In other words, I never had to pay.

“Who’s getting the Uber?” one might say at the end of the evening. I would look around, up and down and sideways while rocking back and forth on my toes. Not me.

I wasn’t being cheap. I just had an old phone with an operating system that, while not exactly ancient, was more likely to have an icon of a smallpox blanket than Uber.

Funny thing, I’ve gotten way too caught up in Uber’s ratings system. Of course, you can rate your driver from 1-5 stars, but did you know that the driver also rates YOU?

For some reason, it has become ridiculously important that I have an exemplary passenger rating. So far, I’m at 5 but I know this will change as soon as Roger, the affable driver of a Chevy Impala, discovers that I accidentally hit “enter” after just 1 star while rating him and can’t figure out how to fix it. Sorry, Roger. You know I really think you’re a 5. We’ll always have that detour around the wastewater treatment plant when the road washed out. Good times.

But what if Roger is the vengeful sort? I don’t think he is, based on his chatty nature, but I’ve been wrong before (turducken) and maybe he’s giving me a “1 star” right back.

So I asked the next Uber driver what it takes to get a 1 for a passenger and his answer was what you would expect: “As long as you don’t throw up in my car or try to have sex, we’re OK.”

Well. One out of two isn’t bad, I guess.

My friend, Pat, brags of his perfect 5-star rating after dozens of Uber rides. When his rating inexplicably dropped to 4.8, he became obsessed with trying to rebook the same driver and “accidentally on purpose” be especially charming. Oh, and maybe not throw up this time.


Rivenbark is the author of seven humor collections. Visit her website at ©2016 Celia Rivenbark. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.