Last week, I broke my vow not to engage the swarm of Uber/Lyft drivers who pour into The City each day and flood the streets with their incompetence.
After nearly getting Maced by that Uber driver last year for circumventing her vehicle too aggressively, I decided it was better to avoid any interaction whatsoever. I don’t honk at them. I don’t yell at them. I don’t even look at them. I just steer clear and completely shut them out of my consciousness.
Which isn’t always easy …
For the past several months, I’ve noticed that Uber/Lyft drivers are getting way more aggressive, as if the two companies have finally exhausted the pool of eligible drivers in the Bay Area (and beyond) and are now scraping the bottom of the barrel in order to sign up anyone who hasn’t already fallen for their scam.
My observations are often validated by Flywheel customers. Since expelling half the cab drivers in The City from the app, wait times are astronomical, forcing many users to take Uber and Lyft instead. These passengers regularly complain about the new breed of amateur drivers. Not only are they navigationally challenged, but their attitudes have become more offensive.
You see it on the streets. And not just the usual bad behavior: stopping wherever they please and blocking bike lanes. It’s this increased sense of arrogance, that what they’re doing is more important and everyone else is in their way …
The other night, I’m on Valencia, stopping to pick up a fare when the guy behind me keeps flashing his high beams at me. I flip around and block the lane. He rolls his window down, perhaps to yell at me, but I beat him to the punch.
“Don’t you fucking flash your fucking high beams at me, you scumbag motherfucker! Learn how to fucking drive in San Francisco or get the fuck out, asshole!”
He quickly rolls up his window.
Not my finest moment, but I’m sick of these jerks flashing their high beams at me.
Still, dealing with passive-aggressive entitlement is better than encountering the straight-up psychos. That’s when things get really ugly …
The other day, I’m rushing to pick up Mr. Judy at a bar in the Mission. He’s in a hurry. I’m on Harrison, waiting for the light at 11th, but, like always, I stretch and tell him that my location is closer.
So when the light turns green, I hit the gas to avoid missing the signal at Division. In the process, I barely notice that the SUV in the turn lane is trying to cut me off. Since my momentum is greater, he’s forced to brake in order to avoid crashing into a bunch of construction barriers. He lays on the horn.
As I turn onto Division, I’ve already forgotten the incident. The driver of the SUV hasn’t. He comes up behind me and swerves into my lane. I slam on the brakes and honk. What the fuck?
Then, I notice the Uber logo in his window. I guess he’s determined to prove that he has the right to cut me off, whether I like it or not. Again, I’m like, whatever. Do your thing.
The light at Folsom is red. Even though I keep my distance from the SUV, he pulls up next to me and rolls down his window. I look straight ahead. He blows his horn, trying to get my attention. Still, I don’t engage.
When the light turns green, he swerves in front of me again. I change lanes, but he keeps coming after me, repeatedly trying to make me crash into him. No matter what I do, where I go, how slow I drive or how fast, he’s there, cutting me off, honking his horn and screaming out his window.
Unable to shake the guy, I call Judy.
“Hey man, you got your Taser?”
“Of course,” he says. “The mace, too.”
“Well, I’m coming in hot.” I tell him what’s going on. “I’m almost there, and he’s still after me.”
“Don’t worry,” Judy responds. “We’ll be waiting.”
As I head down Guerrero, the Uber driver cuts me off a few more times, but a few blocks from my destination, he takes a right and disappears.
When I pull up to the bar, there are 15 people standing outside. Ready to rumble.
They’re visibly disappointed after I tell them the Uber driver gave up.
“Well, maybe next time,” a guy says wistfully.
Yeah, because there’s probably going to be a next time …
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver. His zine, “Behind the Wheel,” is available at bookstores throughout The City. Write to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at www.idrivesf.com.