I am all for ridesharing. I’ve found the cost of Ubering to the airport and back is less than parking at the airport for any trip at least three days long, and a lot less stressful. The majority of drivers are both pleasant to chat with (if you want) and get me where I need to be with precision. But I’m not sure yet about all the unwritten rules of etiquette regarding drivers for Uber, Lyft, etc., and their responsibilities.
For example, since you are riding in someone’s personal car, when you get in, you generally listen to whatever they were listening to. Most of my drivers have kept what they have on the radio unless you direct them to change the volume, station, or whatever. OK, I can deal with that.
But let’s back up a step. Say you order your Uber. The app gives you updates on your driver, you can communicate with them, and the app even has an option which changes your screen to a solid color to assist the driver in finding you in a crowd. All good. But once we connect, I expect the driver to get out, open their trunk or hatch, and assist me with getting my bags in the car. It just seems it should be part of the overall “pick you up with your luggage and take you somewhere” package.
So, it was a cool Wednesday when I ordered an Uber to pick me up and take me to the airport. We had no issues connecting, but when the driver pulled up and rolled down the passenger window to confirm I was his customer, he then proceeded to sit in the car while I dealt with my bags. Now, I’m a reasonably intelligent person. I worked at a gas/service station in my youth. I know my way around cars. But there are a lot of different car designs, and you can’t always find the option to open the trunk or hatch. I had two large bags to load, and I was getting increasingly irritated that this driver wouldn’t get out of the car to help me! Couldn’t he obviously tell I was having trouble?
Finally, I managed to open the hatch, so I loaded my bags inside and slid into the back seat. The driver gave me a hearty, “How’s it going!”
My response was tepid at best. I was ticked at this guy for not helping me! We rode in silence for about five minutes while I calmed down … and it was then I noticed the handicapped sticker hanging from his rearview mirror. I immediately felt like a total dork. I was so upset this man wouldn’t help me, but I didn’t have the whole story. I assumed he didn’t care, when in fact perhaps his legs or back didn’t work right, and he was physically unable to help me. Another perfect example of me assuming facts, not in evidence, and coming to the wrong conclusion.
I never admitted to him my initial feelings. But I did strike up a conversation, and he was a really interesting person. I generally am not much for conversation in this situation, but maybe, just maybe, this all happened so I would feel bad and start a conversation, with the result being a warm, enriching information exchange.
Think about this in your communication this coming week: Am I assuming things which may not be true? Am I taking action or communicating with a faulty premise? If it happens frequently, perhaps you should start asking more questions upfront. Are you assuming the worst intentions of the people you are interacting with?
If you catch yourself doing so, consciously change your thought to, “I wonder what is going on with this person that I am unaware of, which might be causing him or her to act differently than my expectation”? It takes practice, but you can change the way you see others and interact with them with fewer false assumptions and more care. Try it–it works!
I did leave that driver an extra big tip …
Also published on Medium.