A Life Lesson From An Uber Driver

I had a pretty amazing Uber driver today. If this guy isn’t Uber’s all-time best driver, he’s certainly in the running. And he definitely taught me an important lesson today. Well, maybe it’s something I’ve always known, but a reminder now and then doesn’t hurt.

I’m staying in a hotel room that has a full kitchen, which is really convenient. The nearest supermarket is 4 miles away. I took an Uber there and loaded up on simple things – frozen dinners, sandwich stuff, snacks. I ordered another Uber to bring me back to the hotel. While I was waiting for the driver to arrive, I noticed in the app that he had given well over 3,000 rides and had an average rating of 4.93. That’s pretty damned good.

When he pulled up, he jumped out of the car to help me load my groceries in the back. He said, “It’s good that you’re already outside.” And I said, “Well, I know you guys don’t like it when passengers make you wait and I care about my Uber rating too.”

We got in the car and he said, “Let me tell you a story about Uber ratings.” It turns out that when he started out today, his rating was 4.97 but he had a passenger who gave him just a 1-star rating.

He said that what happened was that Waze had brought him to the right group of buildings but not to the front entrance of the building the passenger wanted. They drove around for a bit but couldn’t find the right place. He offered to keep driving (and the rate for the ride was fixed so all of this extra driving would not have meant a higher fare) but the passenger said he would get out and walk around to find it.

He drove off and received an alert from Uber that he had just been given a 1-star rating. In comments the passenger mentioned “navigation issues and cleanliness.” The car, by the way, was spotless.

He said that he understood the low rating on navigation and accepted it even though he didn’t feel it was his fault. Then he said, in terms of the cleanliness remark, that he hesitated to use a bad word to describe the passenger, but that perhaps it might be considered petty.

And then he added, “But I don’t know what was going on with that guy, what his day was like before he got in my car. Perhaps something bad had happened to him and he was already stressed out.” In other words, he forgave the guy for giving him a bad rating for something that wasn’t bad. And he said that if he allowed himself to get stressed over something like that, then he might carry it through his day and give other passengers a bad experience.

(When we reached my hotel, I asked him to park in front of the entrance to the 3rd building. My room is on the other side, no way to pull up the car in front. I figured I could get the bags out, pile them at the entrance, then run back and forth to get everything to my front door. But he jumped out of the car again and grabbed half of my groceries and said he would help me carry them to the door of my room. He didn’t ask. He just did it.)

I thought he was pretty amazing. The lesson I took away from that was how important it can be to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity. Even though good ratings were clearly important to him, he didn’t let the bad rating get to him. It just made him resolve to work harder and do better.

I’m not happy about my current situation. But I can’t allow myself to get pissed off about it.

Getting pissed off will only serve to distract me from the important tasks in front of me.

Blaming others won’t improve my situation. And doing that would also rob me of the opportunity to examine things more closely and look for areas where I can improve myself going forward.

And with that in mind, here’s the classic, “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” from William DeVaughn.