This certainly isn’t a post I ever thought I’d be writing….but then, I never thought I would be a passenger in an Uber vehicle, either!
My bestie had to have eye surgery on June 11th, and the surgery center was about 1-1/2 hours away, just outside of Philadelphia. Her husband is unable to drive that distance so I volunteered to be chauffeur, even though the territory was foreign to my experience and I was a little trepid about getting lost or stuck in traffic. The surgery center was able to arrange a transport for us (at a cost), if we were able to meet it at a hotel only about 1/2 hour from us. I was all for that!
We were told to meet the driver at 7:30 AM and that he would be driving a black car and dressed in a tuxedo. Fortunately for us, he was just in the white shirt and vest with black pants (I would have felt unworthy riding behind a man dressed in a full tuxedo!). He was there about 10 minutes early – and we were already there as well. Once we got our seatbelts figured out for the back seat, we were off. Our driver introduced himself as Joe, so we introduced ourselves to him. After that, he was quiet and my bestie and I just chatted through the drive. When we arrived at the surgery center, he helped us out of the car, walked with us into the lobby and took the elevator with us to the second floor. He held the door open for us as we entered the office area and politely spoke to the lady that he was dropping us off and told us another driver would be transporting us back after the surgery was over.
It was a pleasant experience! It was so nice not to have to be white-knuckled getting over the Surekill – oops, I mean, Sckuykill – River in heavy traffic. It was nice to be walked into the building and introduced to the staff.
To make a long story short, the doctor performing her surgery ended up being behind; her surgery was scheduled for 10 AM and they didn’t even call her to go back until 10:50 AM. (Later, she told me she waited for a while once she was on the litter until they actually took her into the surgery suite).
That being said, by the time she was brought back out, it was well after 12:30 PM. Once we got all of her paperwork together and got back to the desk to ask about our return transit ride, we were told the transit ride was no longer available because they had anticipated a frame of time for it and the doctor’s lateness caused that frame of time to elapse. But not to worry, we were told. They had arranged an Uber driver to come get us and return us to the hotel where my car was parked. We were given a sticky note with the name Damian on it, as well as the model information that it was a white Toyota Avalon, and the license plate number. We were told he was only 3 minutes away.
We went down the elevator to wait outside. It was unusually cool in the waiting room, even for me, who tends to run warm. She’d been laying and I’d been sitting, so we wanted to stretch our legs and stand in the sunshine.
A silver car pulled up past the entranceway and sat idling at the curb. He paid no attention to us, even though we were standing there. After about a minute, my bestie walked over and asked through the open passenger window what his name was. I didn’t hear his response clearly but it didn’t sound anything close to Damian. Just as she was explaining to him that we were waiting on an Uber, I walked around to the back of the car, looked at the license plate, and it exactly matched the numbers on my sticky note. I heard her ask him if his name was Damian – again I couldn’t make out what he was saying – but his answer must have satisfied her. I helped her into the back seat on the passenger side, then climbed into the back seat on the driver’s side. I apologized for the confusion, explaining that we had been told to look for a white vehicle, not a silver one. He started grumbling about how they always get that information wrong, even though he’s contacted them repeatedly and even completed a new application. (Whatever!)
My bestie, bless her heart, was following doctor’s orders and sitting with her head down, chin to her chest. I chose not to start a conversation but let her rest since she’d had quit an ordeal.
Unfortunately our Uber driver thought that the silence meant he was supposed to fill the air with sound. He started talking, all about himself. I don’t even remember most of what he said, probably because I was focused on biting my tongue to keep from telling him to “Shut the f___ up, already!” He’s also not filtering his wording to be at all professional, so there were a number of mild swear words coming from his mouth.
So he’s talking and we’re driving along and suddenly he asks us if we should be on the turnpike. (Seriously, you’re the one with a tablet-sized GPS sitting just to your right, and you’re asking us????) I mentioned that we had made the trip to the facility using the turnpike, so probably yes? He snarled a little bit, but detoured so we were on the turnpike. It’s at this time he mentioned that he doesn’t know what the toll will be, but he never carries cash. (Oh, great! Now we’re going to have to fork out the toll cost, even though this entire trip, including gratuity, was set at a flat rate and paid for!)
While my bestie and I both grab our wallets in case we’re going to have to pay the toll, our exit appears. While I agree that it’s odd, one EZPass lane veers off to the right and the remainder of the exit lanes – EZPass and ticket – are a hundred or so feet up ahead. So what does this driver do? He takes the lane to the right! We weren’t sure what he was doing, as he clearly did not have an EZPass pass. He ends up breezing through the exit without stopping, meanwhile uttering irately about how the only exit was for the pass! (Was he so blind that he didn’t see the additional lanes straight ahead that I could clearly see from behind him? Did he really not have any money to pay the toll? Did he not actually know that a copy of his license plate is now in the turnpike commission’s hands and he will be fined for the highest toll on that strip of the turnpike?)
Fortunately, our location was just .2 miles from the exit, so he quickly pulled up to the entrance of the hotel. I got out, went to the other side to help my bestie out, and he was gone! I don’t know the last time I’ve said aloud, “Good riddance!” but I sure did then!
The rest of our trip home was uneventful. As it was a long day and close to 2:30 PM, I got her safely in the door and situated, then headed home for a nap.
Now… I’m hoping that this experience is not the norm. As I said in my introduction, I never suspected I’d be an Uber rider. If the ride hadn’t been directly paid for by the surgery company and I had some way to contact the company (heck, I wouldn’t even know what driver’s name to tell them!) I would do so. I am, however, wanting to hear about other’s successes – or heaven forbid, failures – at using this particular system for traveling. So if you’ve had the experience and have feedback to share, please leave it in the comments!