It was raining outside. A guy I picked up brought his dog into my car, the wet fur smell heavy in the air. Strange smells are rather common in rideshare cars, but I did wonder how long my car would stink like drowning puppy.
I stayed quiet. Maybe it was a service dog. (Did you know Uber/Lyft drivers MUST accept service dogs, even if they have allergies or cleanliness concerns?)
But then the passenger said, “There’s a spot of mud on your floor. I’d clean that up if I were you.”
And then his dog shook his fur out.
In that vein, may I present to you 10 things that likely make your driver crazy.
1. Don’t make your Uber/Lyft driver explain why they drive, even when they have a degree.
I picked up a woman on 700 East and started driving her to the University of Utah. We talked about education. She was working on her bachelor’s degree. I told her how I’d gotten my master’s in international relations at a university in London.
Her: “You have a master’s degree? And you drive Uber?”
Her: “Then why am I even going to school?”
I guess she has a point.
2. Don’t send your drunk friends in an Uber/Lyft alone.
Often, especially on the weekends, we get pinged outside a bar, and a body is dumped in our back seats. Not a dead body. An inebriated one. One whose friends ordered a ride, shoved him inside and went on with their evening.
It is, at that point, on the driver to ensure the safe transportation of said drunk person, drive in a way that will reduce the chances of blowing chunks, trust the return address is accurate, and …
Crap. He did it. He blew chunks. And he fell asleep in it, his head buoyed up by the chunkier chunks.
I know. I just grossed myself out. Imagine what it’s like for the driver.
By the way, puke and it will cost you $150.
3. This one is not universally agreed upon: If you are a single rider, don’t sit in the front seat.
If you do not want to talk, do not sit in the front seat. If you have an obvious cold, and you are not traveling with a portable sneeze-guard, do not sit in the front seat. If you are a single male, don’t sit directly behind a female driver. These are things that can cause anxiety.
Also, I think I might try to patent a portable sneeze-guard, so don’t steal my idea.
Many drivers are uncomfortable with single passengers in the front seat. Maybe a female driver does not appreciate her personal space being invaded. Or in my case, my cup holders are taken, one for water and one for coffee, and when someone sits in front, there’s nowhere for them to put their drink.
In an informal survey I did with drivers, some thought that if a passenger sits up front, then conversation should ensue. The discomfort comes when the passenger sits up front and remains silent.
So this is not a hard and fast rule. But as a single rider, consider the back seat as the safe option.
4. Don’t send your minors (younger than 18 years old) on a ride without an adult.
Did you know it’s illegal to send your teen, or preteen, or unaccompanied newborn, in an Uber/Lyft without an adult? It is. Legally, we must refuse any underage riders. It’s a serious offense and can result in astronomical lawsuits.
Trust me, it is so uncomfortable having to refuse a 17-year-old unaccompanied passenger. We often get complaints as a result, and a ding on our star rating. Those who accept these rides make it even more difficult, because we get the “I’ve done it a million times with no problems” defense. There are pilot teen-rider programs in the country, but until it becomes law, please don’t put your driver in this position.
Also, if you are traveling with children who need car seats or boosters, please bring them. That’s just a safety issue.
5. Don’t bring open alcohol.
And don’t pretend to throw it away but still bring it.
And don’t pretend it’s water.
And … don’t.
6. Don’t ask your driver to speed/break the law/buy you alcohol.
It is your responsibility to leave plenty of time for a commute. Trust me, drivers do not get paid enough for it to be beneficial to break the law. Maybe if we were the Transporter, and we looked like Jason Statham, and we got paid a briefcase full of diamonds to get you to Albuquerque (I totally spelled that right on the first try) (No I didn’t), by the time the 3:15 to Juarez was pulling out of the station, maybe I would speed. But for $4 to get you from the university to the Capitol?
7. Please don’t have the name Christian.
This one is very specific. But the other day, I got pinged for a ride from the airport, from a man named Christian.
I parked in the waiting area and went up to arriving visitors, saying, “Are you Christian? Are YOU Christian?” They kept backing away, looking elsewhere, not answering. Finally one guy said, “I’m not interested in changing religions.”
8. Don’t light up. Don’t even ask.
9. How do I put this one? Hmmm …
Don’t get too romantic. Remember, you have an audience. Who is probably throwing up a little in his/her mouth.
10. Don’t use us for drug runs.
No explanation needed.
Because I am extremely fair, I’d love to hear the dos and don’ts from the passenger’s perspective. So feel free to leave any ideas in the comments online.
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an Uber and Lyft driver who shares stories from the road in this occasional column.