How to Be a Proper Uber Passenger

Before you hitch a ride in an Uber, make sure you're prepared to be a proper passenger.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #363

Tip #2: It’s NOT A Party Bus

I spoke with a few close friends who use Uber at least once a week, and asked them about any improper behaviors they’ve witnessed, or have even performed, while riding in an Uber car. Thankfully, I run with a proper circle of friends, so their mishaps were rather tame (speaking too loud on a phone or having to change the route midway through, for example). However, one friend said that “on a whim” while leaving a bar, five other people asked to hitch a ride with him and his girlfriend, who already had an Uber car booked. They went back and forth with the driver, after realizing seven would be a tough squeeze in the small sedan, but the driver was in a good mood so he let it slide. Big mistake. All was well, until five minutes in and an inebriated passenger (not my friend), got a bit too rowdy with another passenger while “raising the roof” (I was still shocked people did that in 2015) and broke the overhead light. Then, the broken plastic scratched the material on the front seat too. Here, the party improperly continued into the Uber car, when it should have either split up, or just stopped.

As I said in Tip #1, a major plus for Ubers versus taxis is the flexibility of the drivers to pick you up in a jam. By “jam” I mean you either drank too much and (wisely) decide it’s not safe to drive yourself, or because you and some friends decide to skip out of an event early and want to take a ride home together. Whatever your impulse-reason for booking an Uber is, just remember as I said in Tip #1, it’s someone’s business. See Uber chauffeurs, even if they identify themselves as “drivers,” do not stand out like taxis, who have a reputation for being a bit more “relaxed” with the rules, and who don’t necessarily care about what happens to their car. If you try to push the limits of Uber life, the driver may lose their license thanks to your “smooth talking” ability to turn their car into your personal party mobile. Doing this shows that you don’t appreciate the effort someone puts into their small business. Sure Uber cars are fun and a much nicer alternative to taxis, but rules are rules, my mannerly friends.

There are actual forums about rude Uber drivers and passengers, with such bizarre situations that they resemble a scene from Law and Order SVU. 

Tip #3: Mind Your Manners

This last one sounds easy enough, and as manners enthusiasts, I know you’re mindful of your manners already. Still there are some Uber cases that turned big-time horror stories. There are actual forums about rude Uber drivers and passengers, with such bizarre situations that they resemble a scene from Law and Order SVU. In fact, a CNet.com article stated, “when you agree to Uber's terms and conditions, you basically sign your life away," implying that not all is so safe and proper with an Uber agreement. Such was the case when an irate Uber driver hit a passenger over the head with a hammer after an argument. What the what?  I guess this dispute is a point in the taxi’s column. Granted these are rare instances, but the reason such insanely tragic events occur is because Uber drivers are not a licensed taxi service, just regular people looking to make some extra cash using their personal property. Yes they register and yes they can be revoked, but all in all, Uber drivers run rogue with their own set of guidelines. To this end, you may want to mind your manners when entering their car.

Let me be clear, I am by no means agreeing with the hammer-wielding lunatic driver out there, but when your personal property is at stake, people can overreact. "How" they react is out of your control, so it's best to simply not test the limits. It’s like watching someone spill red wine on your carpet versus knocking it over in a restaurant. The former would make the owner much more aggravated than a restaurant manager. So, make sure next time you step into an Uber, you think of it like you’re someone’s house guest; they want you to be relaxed, and make yourself at home, but don’t be disrespectful of their property or take advantage of it. This is not the limousine you rented in high school for the prom, and trashed with vodka bottles. Remember your manners and respect their property the same way you would if hitching a ride with a close friend. Don’t track in mud or dirt, don’t drink or eat, don’t order the driver around like a servant, and make sure you leave the ride with a “thanks,” a proper tip, and hopefully a resourceful contact for the future.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

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