what would i do if i was truly free

or if i allowed myself to be truly free?

i would read more. i would watch less tv. i would listen to all the music i love and not try so hard to learn about this new junk.

i would swear more and never wear pants. i would go to church more. i would work out even less.

id work on my crossover dribble. i would cook. i would clean.

today i have to buy a printer and a shelf.

i know amber likes me but she Loves tea and has nowhere to put her tea cup when she adjourns to bed

currently shes using the window sill but a shelf would be better.

a little one.

one that hasn’t seen the evils of the world and only wants to hear sweet soul music and the murmurs of these two cats who snore when they snooze and startle easily

im pitching this book, it wont make me rich, money is the fakeout the bible says and the richer my passengers are in my uber

the quieter they seem.

the happiest: me.

so maybe i am free.

things i would do if i ran uber

people know me as a successful businessman, a powerful influencer, a bon vivant, and a deliverer of unsolicited advice.

some of those are true. but the thing that im most expert at is uber, lyft and all things ride share.

as you may know, Uber lost over $1 billion last quarter, which is nearly impossible to do when you are such a darling in the market that no matter how bad your PR team is or your leadership, people still use your services in droves.

it’s also hard to blow that sort of change when, in theory, your overhead should only be software engineers, customer service reps, and paying off politicians.

uber however has figured out ways to burn money via fines, robot car technology, and lawsuits. but as you can see from this example from an Uber Express Pool I drove yesterday, they also lose money by offering ridiculously low rides while paying the drivers what amounts to $37 an hour.

Uber needs to knock it off and charge the correct amount.

the experiment is over. people love ridesharing. they liked it from the very beginning when they were paying half what a cab cost. but for some reason Uber wanted to charge a quart of what a cab costs. they wanted to compete with busses. they wanted to then compete with their own drivers via automated cars. all of that has sent their profits spiraling down down down deep into the hole.

there needs to be real minimum fares of $6 for X and $12 for Select. they need to reward frequent passengers with a free $12 ride for every 6th $12 ride.

they should reward tipping by giving a 50% discount to every 10th tipper. they need to have a button that allows passengers to see if their favorite drivers (those who they have tipped) are nearby and let them select them for a slightly higher price (which would be split between uber and the driver). they need to have an option on the app that says I LOVE YOU I SERIOUSLY LOVE YOU BUT PLEASE DONT TALK TO ME IM SLEEPY OR SHY OR JUST WANT QUIET.

they need to reward drivers who have a high rating with trips that they prefer. for example, I prefer long trips, some prefer short trips, I prefer trips to DTLA or LAX, some prefer trips to the Valley or the OC. if i am in Santa Monica and a request comes in for DTLA and i am close to 5 other available cars but i have a higher rating, I should get that call. because WHY WOULDNT YOU WANT YOUR HIGHER TICKET RIDES TO GET MATCHED WITH YOUR BEST DRIVERS?

there should be an option for what sort of music you want to be played. or what news station you want on the radio.

Uber has fallen into the trap that poor salesmen fall into: only believing that price price price is what is appealing to all customers. no, my friend, features, benefits, personalized tastes are the little things that people will pay a premium for.

how about i am a woman who likes to take Uber Pool, perhaps theres a button that says “please only match me with other riders who are female”? Uber swears they are a tech company not a transportation company, so then excel at the tech part.

partner with advertisers to partner with full time drivers to wrap their vehicles with ad wrap. then offer passengers a discount if they take rides in these vehicles. that way the passengers dont feel dumb in a Coke Adds Life car, and Coke gets their message out more.

but the biggest thing i would do is i would pay the drivers 75% of the ride no matter what. the quality of drivers has dropped year after year because part time drivers just cant afford to drive their cars into the ground for peanuts. yes i can figure out how to make it work for me, but many drivers cant. weirdly uber has failed at figuring out how to benefit from those ignorant drivers, but maybe that shouldnt be their business model.

maybe they should start hiring smart veteran uber drivers to run their company instead of these bros who wouldnt drive an uber express pool to save their lives, thereby never learning that you can make just as much on pool as you can on select if you do it right.

hey siri, remember that time i gave a fuck?

drove two japanese girls from beverly hills to newport beach.

they were quiet and shy and incredibly beautiful.

talked super quietly to each other, giggled, checked their phones.

usually a 90 minute ride would include colorful conversations, mutual discoveries,

and beautiful tales from our unique walks through this so called life

but i never pushed, and they never asked, so in 20 minutes they were snoozing in the back.

i played the sirius venus channel quietly: modern tunes by women singers.

traffic wasn’t bad and when we got there i asked quietly

“is this a motel we are going to?”

they said, even quieter, “yes the blah blah on the beach hotel”

so i went where i was supposed to go, a little street that dead ended at the beach

the sun was setting, but not in a spectacular way.

i took the two huge suitcases out of the trunk and said, “im sorry you couldnt get closer”

they laughed and weirdly there was no sign that said Hotel

and they looked around and began wandering

without their luggage!

but i was already driving back out of the narrow street.

hoping theyd find their hotel. hoping it was just a door or two away.

i was in a rush to get back to the safety of hollywood.

and on the way home i was sure they would give me a less than perfect rating because i didnt show them

exactly to the door.

but this morning i looked and voila

they tipped me $20 on the $160 fare.

arigato sleeping girls!

the first rule of Uber is don’t pick up Uber Pool

the second rule is don’t ever pick up Uber Express Pool.

these are the short-sided mantras left by inexperienced but extremely vocal drivers on Facebook Uber groups.

any time someone posts a screenshot of a ride and it says Pool, or heaven forbid Express Pool, the overnight know-it-alls type brilliant things like Pools are for Fools.

then they call each other Ants as a slur for dutifully picking up all rides for low pay.

the truth however is more subtle. like in most things.

hidden among the not-so-small print of the Pool Rules is if you pick up Rider A and it’s surging at 2.0x, then you will get a double fare for all the riders you pick up in that pool.

So when i saw there was an express pool request coming out of CAA in Century City, I figured this fool wants to go to LAX super cheap, and I will be able to get a ride *from* LAX at 2x.

or at least that would be a possibility that I would hope for.

what i got was actually better.

i picked up a very attractive young lady who turned out to be Molly Bloom’s lawyer. Bloom of course is the writer of Molly’s Game, one of my top 4 favorite films of last year.

Mollys Game / Star Wars / Lady Bird / Florida Project

she was headed to meet with Molly at a fashion designer’s daughter’s mansion atop a Beverly Hills hill.

as we drove to the gated community she told me that she helped co-write certain aspects of the script with Aaron Sorkin.

was that totally intimidating? i asked her of working with the lauded writer of the West Wing, Moneyball, Sports Night, and others.

no, he was all ears and a total pro, she said.

the thing about Uber is no one is going to get rich except Uber. the drivers will spend hours and hours and eventually wear their cars down to the nub, so the question is: did you learn anything, did you meet cool people, did you see cool things, and was it worth your money?

when you get to spend 20 minutes with someone super interesting who can answer all of your little questions about one of your favorite films, that’s priceless to me.

Me: OK in the film the poker games were at the Four Seasons on Doheny. Is that where they were?

Her: At first they were at the Viper Room and when they got bigger we took them over to the Peninsula.

Me: Was Michael Cera’s character really Tobey Maguire?

Her: Yes.

Me: Why not just use Tobey Maguire?

Her: [Redacted]

Friday after work I got a 2x surge of these two Japanese girls from Beverly Hills to Newport Beach. I ended up with $129. Everything evens out.

it’s not easy to get me jealous

but right now ive got friends in Egypt checking out the pyramids and in Kuwait playing video games with our troops

yesterday i had an interesting dilemma. it was surging 2.5x on Uber but i got a ping on Lyft Premium (which is like a 3x surge).

when i got the Lyft request i saw it was from a gated community near a country club and every time ive picked up someone there it was a short, irritating ride.

and now that Uber and Lyft tells you whether or not it is a long trip or not, i knew this Lyft ride wasn’t going to be a long ride.

so i was tempted to cancel it but i had just lectured all these dumb young kids on the Uber facebook page that you shouldn’t cancel a guaranteed decent ride in hopes that you will get a big fat long ride in a minute or two.

traffic was bad where i was gonna pick them up and again i was tempted, but the Lord led me out of temptation and i got to where i needed to be and there they were waiting for me.

one of the things about these rides is there is the small chance that as you are driving they will say, oh we didnt mean to drop us off here (a short ride) we meant for you to take us Alllllllll the way over here (a long, profitable ride).

but the other pleasant surprise is they can give you a $10 tip because they rich as hell and cool and appreciated you and are good hearted.

and thats what happened. a $10 tip on a $21 ride.

still i want to see the pyramids soon!

took these two dude from one side of town to the other

if i was a bad person i would have recorded their conversation and transcribed it here for you because it was really fascinating.

but i am a good person. sorta.

they were talking about all these tv deals that they were making and wanted to make.

they were talking about all these women and how powerful they were.

and how powerful they are going to be when they finalize these deals.

all of that was typical Hollywood blah blah blah and i was thinking to myself boring

but then they got bored with that, it was a long ride.

then they started talking about their kids

“did you ever take yours to the Tower of Terror?”

“in Florida, yes?”

“it’s it fantastic.”

“oh man, someone at Disney gave us these passes and we went on that thing eight times. Mary loved it.”

then they talked about this carnival they went to. then Europe.

their tone was so different. so sweet.

i wanted to tell them, do business with that tone and you will rule the world.

they didn’t tip.

guy lombardo of course

what if you just get tired of things after a while.

what if you just overthink things after a spell.

what if you dont wanna share with the whole wide world about your fabulous life and all the pretty girls who kiss you and all the sweet old people who ride in your back seat and

those who tell you about the time that they moved here from north dakota in 1946.

oh really, what did you do when you got here?

i worked at decca records.

holy shit, decca was the label who didnt sign the beatles so they signed the stones and the rest is history.

yep.

so tell, me, if you were here in the 40s did you ever go dancing at the Hollywood Palladium?

yep.

omg. i heard that one mr frank sinatra used to sing there with a big band and everyone would dance in pretty dresses

i’ll have you know that that very same frank sinatra kissed me on the cheek when i met him.

were his eyes as blue as legend has it?

legend cannot live up to reality — his eyes were bluer than you could ever hope for.

tell me more about decca. i love them so.

well, every two weeks, when you got your check, they would let you pick out 6 records.

which ones do you remember choosing when you first started?

guy lombardo of course!

and when i dropped her off her assistant said, she never talks to uber drivers, EVER

which was the best compliment of all

 

in the days of chimpanzees i was a drive in

she didnt mean any harm. long legs. short hair. didnt care.

hopped in the back seat, verified where we were headed and just sat there.

sometimes if they are looking out the window i’ll say something like

so whats happening where we’re going.

and they’ll tell me just going home

or theyre going to a party or

and sometimes they will tell you the saddest thing in the world

like theyre going to a funeral or a bar

or theyre gonna just go to a park and sit and cry.

one girl told me, sometimes i just want to get out of my own neighborhood

walk around where no one knows me

and just think about all the things i did wrong all week.

id say baby you didnt do anything wrong.

and she’d cry super quiet back there.

and id turn up the jazz louder so she could have some space.

and id drive super fast so we could get their quicker.

and give her five stars when we got there.

back to the back to the beat y’all

i got rhymes so fat and sweet y’all

ubes had a promotion this morning to get all our lazy asses outta bed on Easter Saturday, a morning that is typically slow, and we know

so like most smart drivers, i don’t get excited for anything unless it’s 1.9 or over

so for an hour in large swath on the east side of town they had a 2x surge – but the passenger doesnt pay the surge, ubes does.

and then in the next hour they had a 2.4x surge from koreatown to the west.

first ride was this young japanese woman. short ride. we passed a new target near mccarthur park.

a little one. like a corner store.

target i asked the silent / shy lady.

yes! she perked up.

you are so lucky i said.

yes, she agreed and settled back into the seat, looking out at the buildings going by.

$7 for a 7 minute ride. whatever. figured i was near the Line Hotel. figured i should probably circle it a few times because 2.4 times the airport is what it’s all about.

circled around it once. nothing. circled around again: ping. a mom and her two teenage daughters. Mexican.

i start the deal and it says Universal Hollywood.

hey we’re going to Hogwarts i say.

the ladies laugh, yes!

i told them how great their hotel is. about roy choi. kogi.

then i ask, where in mexico are you senioritas from?

the mom says, mexico city!

they tell me a little about it and i ask,

is it true that in mexico city the ladies have to ride Women’s Only busses

because the men are too — and i made the Grabby Hands gesture with wiggling my fingers

and they said yes.

and i said, im so so sorry.

drove a very rich man from west LA to pasadena

he knew everyone, everything, and was super cool about it.

freaked me out at first because as soon as he got in he said, turn off the music, then he made a phone call.

i knew it was gonna be a long ride but the thought of no music terrified me if he wasn’t gonna talk but nope he loves music, he just wanted my uninterrupted attention.

i never asked him how he made his millions but if i can find out tons of details about you in 10 minutes, imagine what can be gleaned in an hour and 10.

what i learned is he donates to arts causes, homeless shelters, womens shelters, and public radio. he is tough but fair. and not only does he give but he knows exactly where the money is going to, where the shelters are – and who are the people running it.

he told me about the time when he was 40 and his wife won an auction where a famous celebrity chef spent the day shopping and cooking with him for a dinner party for his friends.

he told me about classical music, Elton John, and jazz at the Hollywood Bowl.

he complimented me on my driving and told me that he has a regular driver because so many uber guys “speed up, change lanes, honk, and have foul mouths.”

fuck them, i joked.

his fare was $94, I got $64 and when i picked up amber i surprised her with a bowl of her favorite soup and she literally cried.

back to the old guy. when i asked him why he was going from west LA to pasadena in the middle of rush hour, he said, “my wife and I have been married 47 years. since i am interested in making it 48 years, when she says, we are going to this thing in pasadena at 8pm, i make sure i am there, and on time.”