First Day

The day before my first day as an Uber driver, I received an email and an in-app notification that my Uber account is active. My original plan was to start the new job on Friday or Saturday, but ever since I got the notification, the need to test it out was the only thing in my mind.

"Well, I will check it out this just for today" I thought. There weren't any meetings set for that day for me on my regular job. "If I started an hour earlier than usual, I probably would be able to make to work on time as well". Besides, I knew that Uber does allow the drivers to set up two destinations each day. These were supposed to allow the driver to pick up riders who are going towards the same direction as their destination, at least that was the theory. 

At the time, I wasn't familiar with the saying "Best laid plans of mice and men, oft go awry", but that's exactly how it went. I was an hour late than an hour early and decided to pick up whoever the rider I get on my way to work. And I drove, for 7kms to get my first ride. My first customer was a lady who was going about 7-8kms away.

During the many times I've been a taxi rider, I've met several drivers who were on their either first day or first week. In almost all of those rides I spent quite an enjoyable time chatting with the driver. As I was driving to pick up my very first ride, I was thinking of the best way to initiate a conversation with my first ever rider. Once however she got in to the vehicle and told me that she is ready to leave, all I could manage was an "Ok madam". In retrospect, given my luck in talking with girls who are complete strangers, this shouldn't have been a surprise at all.

When I dropped off my first ride, I was quite happy to receive the first payment which was cash. Thankfully, I had read about this in Sanjiva's blog and had this idea that at least 50% of my customers would be paying in cash as opposed to credit/debit cards. I had enough change with me to give the balance to the customer. It is however only when I started driving off again I thought about that particular transaction. I had got my first customer and done the first business. But after driving for about 8km to drop her off, I've made a grand total of... 300 LKR (around 1.6 USD). This was before paying off the commission for Uber. Not at all a good return. But still, it was just one ride and my first day. Surely, things could get better.

Of course, things wouldn't get better on their own; I'd have to work for it. After I finished my regular work, I decided to run a few hires for a couple of hours. The two or three hires that I got for the evening session wasn't too bad. I decided to take a small break to avoid the office traffic.

My last hire for the day turned out to be a memorable one. Around 7:30 in the night, I got another rider request. The customer asked me to wait outside a prominent hair salon. My gut feel was that this would be a short trip probably somewhere in Colombo it self. It turned out that the customer was in fact heading home, nearly 17km from Colombo to the complete opposite side of where I live in. And given that particular area, there was no chance for me to get a trip back to Colombo. I'd have to drive my way back without a hire.

Nearly one and a half hours later, I dropped her off and realised that I have hit another problem. In my haste, I had forgotten that I used one destination option in the morning and had used the other one in the evening. There was no guaranteed way for me to pick a rider who would travel to the direction of my home. I'd have to leave it to chance!

I felt as if I had had enough for the day. And I decided to drive 20 more kilometers. This time, home bound.

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