What I’ve learned
Denverite invites thoughtful people to submit op-eds about Denver. This is a series we call What I’ve Learned.
By Dmitria Veselak
I decided to apply for Uber during a screaming match between the two kids I was babysitting, and by the end of the week I was handed my official Uber car sticker. I felt oh so cool. The idea of babysitting drunk adults seemed way better than babysitting children.
Now, a few months later, I’ve leveled out my expectations and learned a few key lessons.
Denver’s reputation as a mass migration zone is pervasive (and we still all use prepositions at the end of sentences).
Very early on in my Uber career I noticed that whenever the topic of location arose, the question was not “are you from here?” but was “where did you move from?” And with over 100,000 people moving to Colorado within the last three years, the assumption that someone didn’t grow up here isn’t that crazy. Just as soon as the question is turned back on them, it comes out that most riders aren’t from here themselves.
Drunk riders are exactly how you’d expect them to be.
I am often asked how safe I feel as a female driver. While I can’t pretend that I always feel comfortable picking someone up from a warehouse at 11:30 at night, I have always been safe and generally enjoy the weekend characters.
My first ever ride was a tipsy mortician who gladly informed me of all the details of her job (did you know that Colorado doesn’t require a degree to be a mortician?) and most of my rides are something along those lines. However, I have also had passengers ask me how much extra it costs to make out, invite me to swingers clubs, and inquire whether they could bring me to meet their mother. My favorite being the passenger who wrote me a NSFW poem after a particularly long night at the bar.
While this may seem like I wear an Uber brand pheromone, this is a pretty run-of-the-mill weekend night for a female Uber driver on Larimer St.
Driving in Denver isn’t like driving in other cities.
The advertisements for Uber spoke of earnings upwards of $1,000 per week, and boy was I ready. Images of driving while wearing something out of Vogue had not escaped my imagination.
Shockingly, I may have overestimated the glamorous life of an Uber driver. It is possible to make over $1,000 a week, but as a full time student, and overall not very motivated person, the 40-plus hours necessary to achieve that goal aren’t possible for me or most of the Uber drivers I know.
This is partially because Denver doesn’t really have a taxi culture. Even before Uber you didn’t see thousands of taxis here like you do in Chicago or New York. While the influx of people certainly increased the necessity of Uber, Denver is still a small city. Most of my rides are from one part of central Denver to the other, like LoDo to the Highlands. This means most drivers I know have second or other primary jobs and use Uber as supplementary income. But driving for Uber is fun and flexible.
And while I may not be rich in designer clothes, I now have a wealth of stories to tell at parties.
Denverite invites thoughtful people to submit op-eds about Denver. This series is called What I’ve Learned. Previously: Opinion: Lessons learned from opening a cat cafe (and my top four cat videos). We’ve also got a One Big, Crazy Denver Idea series. Pitch your op-ed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.