We can all agree Uber is one of the greatest inventions of all time, right up there with George Foreman grills and Plan B. Crazy how popular a taxi company can be when its business model is founded upon efficiency and customer service instead of overpriced flat rates and body odor, AMIRITE?! I literally use it every day because after selling my car two years ago I found that my monthly Uber charges are actually lower than my monthly car payment, gas, and insurance were. Plus, it has made DUIs almost inexcusable and/or impossible. You don’t need a designated driver with Uber which is great for you and your friend Brian who’s a real nothing as a wingman on Saturday night if he’s sober.
But if there is a downside to Uber it’s definitely the forced conversation. And, sometimes even pretending to be on your phone doesn’t work (probably because they know nobody actually receives a call and answers it anymore. They just ignore it and text back. Duh.) It doesn’t happen every time, but every now and then you get a driver who’s just begging for some human interaction and wants to tell you literally everything from his thoughts on Obamacare to his son’s struggle with Type 2 diabetes while you’re just trying to speed swipe on Tinder/check your Fantasy stats in peace. Like last week when this happened…
Obviously that situation is the exception to the rule and most of you will not be as lucky to encounter the next Fetty Wap on your ride across town, so here are some helpful hints on how to avoid being trapped in those dismal dialogues while still maintaining your 5-star rating.
1. Enter the address before you get in the car.
First of all, unless you’re in NYC (and sometimes not even then), you’re not going to hop into a car, bark out “73rd and 5th, please” and have an expertly aggressive driver know the exact way to get you there in a minimal amount of time. So, stop thinking that’s going to happen and enter the damn address because we all know by now that most Uber drivers have zero idea how to navigate around the city they live in. And by inputing the address beforehand you have already guaranteed yourself a 45% chance the only words you’ll have to speak once in the car are, “I think I gave you the address earlier” and “Thanks” once you get out of the car. It’s the best and most efficient way of preplanned conversational avoidance and you won’t have to constantly tell your driver which way to turn every 5 seconds. Especially if there’s a language barrier or Darquez doesn’t know the difference between left and right. Which is a real thing that happens. Trust me.
2. Ask to turn the music on and/or volume up no matter what.
One of the first questions you’ll be asked in an Uber ride is if there’s a preference of music. If they don’t ask that then a) They’re assholes who deserve 2 stars and b) You’re about to be involved in the worst 15+ minutes of forced silence since childhood nap time after you had a lunch of Surge and Dunkaroos. If they do ask, be sure to not only request your favorite music (or sync your phone) but ask to turn the volume up to an almost unreasonable level. Nobody wants to interrupt or talk over you crushing an impromptu karaoke of T Swift’s “Blank Space” in the backseat of a Hyundai Sonata.
3. Cliches for days.
If your driver ignores either of the previous efforts then be sure to have a few cliches/short responses on deck. Now, I’m an asshole, so usually I would just be open and verbal about my disdain for small talk during my 10-minute trip. However, you don’t want your rating to go down.
This is where cliches come in handy. Cliches are basically politely dismissive responses that were invented to help people in conversations they didn’t want to be in in the first place. A few of my favorites are “You got that right!” and “It is what it is.” However, if you ever find yourself with a male driver who won’t shut up then you should pull out the big guns with my personal favorite, “Heard that sister.” Trust me. Next time you are in a Dodge Caravan with some suburban stepfather with a side job who’s had too many iced coffees to get him through the late shift, just hit him with that line, and he’ll retreat faster than his hairline.
4. Say YES to drugs.
If you’re tired of having to multitask between playing FarmVille and listening to your disgruntled driver’s story about how Uber’s reduced rates are financially fucking him, then just straight up talk about drugs. Ask if he knows where to find some. Ask if it’s cool if you do some in the backseat. Or fuck it, ask to borrow his belt while you tie one off in the third row of his Denali.
I mean, at this point fuck your rating. You didn’t mean to call the SUV anyway. You just had roughly 28293 Fireball shots and want to make it back to your overpriced Post/AMLI apartment without having to hear this former Somalian pirate vent about his salary that is $10k more a year than your job at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
5. Pretend to be a Jehovah’s Witness.
Literally NO ONE likes talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not only do they bombard you with religious rants about the afterlife, but they tell you that there’s basically some VIP room you can get into with their secret password. Definitely pull the Jehovah’s Witness card out early and enjoy your hard-earned silence the rest of your ride. Honestly any religious talk should do the trick. I would’ve said pretend to be a Mormon, but they got that “Fuck Uber I got a new Huffy Money.”
Pro Tip: Hand them a pamphlet you got/saved from the door-to-door salvation salesman who woke you up two Saturdays ago at 7:15 a.m. when you were roughly 12 seconds into your REM Cycle from the night before. Fuck that guy.
Nobody wants to deal with a crier, especially one who’s sobbing inexplicably for no reason. So start out with small tears. An exaggerated sniffle or two should do the trick. But, if Dawlwan (real name) is more concerned with your feelings than he is about his 4.7 rating and begins to ask questions then it’s time to start sobbing like the first time you saw Old Yeller. Girls, I’m sure you can pull up a puppy video on Facebook or check your ex’s Instagram and get the waterworks going. Go ahead and break out your Kim K ugly cry. There is literally no appropriate reaction to an ugly cry from a stranger. Remember, you need to let them know that your life has more problems than their name has consonants.
7. Be drunk OR pretend to be drunk.
No sober person likes talking to a drunk person. And they especially don’t like being ordered around by said drunk person. Sidenote: If I’m sober and just Google mapped how to get your drunk ass home, and you try to correct me with an alternate rout through a series of slurs and hiccups then I’m fucking leaving you at the bar I picked you up at. That being said, if it’s late night and your driver tries to talk to you while your drunk sexting your ex and/or Dominos (since you can order with a pizza emoji via text nbd), it’s time to hit ’em back with a nonsensical sentence of profanity and sadness and then follow it immediately with a fake yawn, fake snoring, and pretend pass out on a pillow made of your shoulder/sternum. The trick here is to remember to wake up when you get to your destination (#LifeHack).
8. Fake a breakup.
Just trust me on this one. There is nothing that will avoid awkward conversation with an Uber driver like an awkward public breakup with your significant other in the backseat. And it doesn’t have to be your spouse/gf/bf; it can literally be whomever is next to you in Mohammed’s 2007 Chevy Malibu. Try and be respectful though. It’s a slippery slope between fake dating/fighting and fucking up your rating. Best bet is to have a fictional fiasco where there is a mutual separation that ends with passive aggressive silence by everyone in the Malibu. And for the record, if you’re actually drunk (see #7) you won’t even have to fake the breakup.
9. Ask them to play your mixtape.
Yes. ALWAYS have your mixtape on hand. Don’t have one? Record one. It’s probably pretty simple if you have a Mac and an hour of spare time. Listen, here’s the thing: NOBODY ever wants to hear a mixtape. The only people who ever even pretend to want to hear a mixtape are white people lost at a Chevron gas station on the Southside late night with $10 in their front pocket and enough white guilt to “support your struggle.” Asking someone to listen to your mixtape is the same as a small child asking if he can read you his/her latest second grade book report. No you don’t want to hear it. But, you can’t say no because it will cause years of emotional damage to them. Plus, it’s always good to get caught up on what’s new with bandos and The Boxcar Children.
10. When all else fails, sit behind them and massage their shoulders.
You think I’m crazy? Tell me the last time you massaged a stranger’s shoulders from the backseat of their car, and it DIDN’T end with awkward silence and avoiding eye contact for the next 10 minutes? That’s the Ace up your sleeve. You’re welcome.