With all that’s currently going on in America, I think back on the 2 worst Uber rides I’ve ever had.
I’m from the Bay Area. In San Francisco, you don’t need a car. Our public transportation is so convenient. (I said convenient, not clean. Mind ya business haha). With that said, my commute always starts with me at the Bart Station. Catch me riding Muni, Bart, SamTrans, all the above.
If I’m not getting somewhere with public transportation, best believe I’m taking an Uber. I recently complained to Uber about something and they replied saying, “…we appreciate your loyalty with your 980-something rides with Uber.” That was probably more than 20 Ubers ago, so I basically have taken more than 1 thousand Uber rides, just on my account alone. Never mind the fact that I could’ve probably bought my own car with that Uber money…
From those 1 thousand Uber rides, 2 stand out the most.
It was in the beginning of 2019 and I was in an Uber ride on the way to get my eyelash extensions done. I had my earphones on and was blasting my music. My Uber driver was a middle aged Latino man, he couldn’t really speak English but was very polite. I called an UberPool, which matches me with other passengers going my way. He pulled over and we picked up an elderly Caucasian lady, maybe in her 60’s, with dyed red hair. She got in the passengers seat.
I was listening to my music, so I have no idea what was being said before hand. We were in the car maybe 5-ish minutes before I finally looked up from my phone and realized that they were trying to get my attention. For how long, I have no idea. I took my earphones out.
“Do you speak English?” She asked me.
“Can you explain to him that he’s going the wrong way?! I’m going to a place called Tennessee Grill, but instead he’s taking me to Tennessee Street! He doesn’t speak English.”
The Uber driver told me in Spanish that he’s just following the directions that it told him on the app. I relayed the message that the app is telling him to go to Tennessee Street. The driver said that he would take her to her right destination anyway, and opened up another app to take her to the correct address. She was pleased. But that also meant that we’d be going the complete opposite way and that I’d probably be late for my appointment.
Her mood completely changed after he kindly offered to take her to her “correct” destination. Her bitch mode went down a few octaves, and she tried to make small talk.
“So where are you headed?” She asked me trying to change the subject.
“To an eyelash appointment, I think I might be late.” I laughed a little, even though I was rolling my eyes internally.
“Haha, first world problems right.”
“Ha…. yeah.” As I Arthur fisted.
“I just can’t believe they let people do Uber and not speak English! It should be a requirement!” She looked at the driver, “Oh, but atleast you’re working right? That’s all that matters!”
I think I gave another, “….ha….yeeeeaah…” just so she could stop talking. Even though I could feel my blood boiling.
“You know, my day has been crazy! I’ve called TWO Ubers already that tried to bring me to the wrong address!” When she said this it clicked in my head that she’s most likely the problem, entering in the wrong address / clicking the wrong address that comes up.
“Wait, can I see your phone,” I asked. She gave me her phone and what I suspected was true. She had entered her destination as “Tennessee Street.”
“On the app you are the one that clicked Tennessee Street as your destination. His GPS is just going where you requested.”
“Shit,” she said moded. “Well, what do I do now?”
The Uber driver shrugged, unsure of what his next suggestion would be.
So I cut in, “You have to cancel this Uber and call another one, he’s not going to take you to another destination.”
She started mumbling, angry at the fact that she, for the 2nd time that day, entered in the wrong address and expected to be dropped off somewhere other than the destination point she approved of. The Uber driver pulled to the corner for her to exit.
“I’m not getting off here in this shitty neighborhood,” at this point me and the driver are just like …..welllllll….. hinting that we don’t care and she should really just get out of the car.
“Fine, whatever. Annnnnnd you don’t even speak fuckin’ English!” She said as she swung the door open and motioned to take off her seat belt.
At this point I had enough of her. “Oh shut the fuck up with that shit!” I yelled.
I could tell she low key regretted the remarks, but made no apology as she slammed the door. My driver started talking to me in Spanish, and miraculously, I understood everything. Thank you Spanish 1-2 and Spanish 3-4 classes!
He explained how he wanted to help but theres really nothing he could do if the GPS is telling him to go somewhere else.
In my broken ass Spanish I told him, “Don’t listen to that stupid woman. No English, no problem. You’re good.” He thanked me and we went about our ride.
Me, being my father’s child, took out a $20 bill and insisted he take it at the end of my ride. He refused, but I kept insisting. He thanked me over and over and I repeated the same message in broken Spanish. He smiled ear to ear.
I’m sure people that don’t speak much English get treated like this more times than not, like second class, less than worthy of respect.
But the Uber ride that takes the cake as the worst Uber I’ve ever taken is this one right here….
At the end of 2018, I was leaving my boyfriend’s apartment around 1 am, the wee hours on a Sunday morning. Of course, I called an UberPool to get back home. From the outside of the car I could tell that 2 people were already seated in the back, so I opened the front door of the passengers seat and said hello to my driver.
He was an Asian old man, probably in his 60’s, maybe 65. My dad, when I later told him the story of what happened, believed that my driver was Malaysian based off of his name and profile picture, because the head shot showed the top half of his cultural attire. Anyways, he was very friendly and greeted me.
The 2 guys in the back seat were 2 Caucasian men. One about early to mid 30’s, and the other, late 30’s to early 40’s. As soon as I entered the car I smelled alcohol on their breath.
Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” played on the radio, and the younger guy started laughing and singing along to the song, trying to coax the other to sing along with him. I later discovered that they were brothers.
“Just beeeeaaaatttt itttttt, beaaaattttt ittttt,” he sang leaning towards his older brother, begging for a duet.
“Shut the fuck up, dude. I’m fuckin’ pissed. I’m so fuckin’ pissed right now,” that sentence traveled to my nostrils, because he reeked of alcohol.
The younger brother laughed it off and tried to lighten the mood. But it just aggravated him more.
“Oh my fucking God I can’t believe this shit. This fucking guy really just picked up his wife or sister or whatever she is,” he had me so dead. What? This guy’s wife though….
His younger brother said nothing to put him in his place. I don’t know if he felt awkward or didn’t care to say anything. This ride usually is a 10 minute ride, but it felt like the longest ride of my life. The older brother kept grunting under his breath how angry he was that my Uber driver fucked them over by using the Uber service to pick up his family. Obviously, of course, it was because the Uber driver and I are both Asian.
I gritted my teeth and wanted to tell him off so bad. I took out my pepper spray, ready to use it if I had to, my finger already on the button. He kept talking his shit, continuing with the racist thought that we HAD to be related some how. I wanted to tell him off so bad, I felt my blood boiling. What made me angrier was the fact that I knew that it could take a turn for the worse if I were to verbally defend myself. I didn’t know what they had on them. And I didn’t know how far they would take things. So I kept my mouth shut as he went on and on.
“Dude, no one is playing us. This is a pool,” the younger brother said, seeing that his brother was fuming.
“No! They’re fuckin’ playin’ you! I just wish that this guy could be fuckin’ honest and say ‘yeah, I picked up my wife – or daughter – or niece’ or whatever, but no, he’s acting like he doesn’t understand English!”
His brother tried to calm him down, but really, what can you tell a belligerent drunk? The older brother grabbed the Uber driver’s seat and pulled himself closer to him.
“I know you fucking speak English!!! Stop acting like you don’t understand!” He yelled in his ear. That’s where I drew the line. Passive aggressive comments, okay, but disrespecting an elderly person who is just doing their job, I couldn’t bite my tongue any longer.
“You’re being so racist.” I said, my voice shaking from anger and frustration.
“How?! How am I being racist?! Obviously you know each other. You’re really gonna call me racist?!”
“Yes! You’re racist! This is an UberPool, he picks up other people on the way! I don’t know him!”
“Yes, this is pool,” the driver said finally breaking his silence. “I pick up other people!”
“Duuude, ok stop. This is a pool. Now you’re just harassing these people,” his brother cut in.
“STOP LYING! Like just admit to it, you know him. Its okay! Just admit you’re wrong and we’ll accept it and just give you a poor rating.” He continued.
Finally, after what seemed like an hour of hostility, we were at their destination. It was less than 4 blocks from my house. I was relieved, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. But of course, he refused to get out of the car, demanding that our driver reveal that we really do know each other and that we royally fucked over him and his brother. We ignored him, in hopes he would just exit the car. But of course, he had the time and energy.
At this point, his younger brother is cussing him out, telling him to get out of the car so he could beat his ass for disrespecting us. With my finger flicking the pepper spray latch back and forth, I debated whether I should just spray him right then and there. But again, I thought of what he had on him, and what he would do, how he could turn this on me to authorities. So instead, I started secretly recording.
“Can you just get out…” I said exhausted.
“JUST ADMIT YOU KNOW HIM! AND ON TOP OF THAT YOU CALLED ME RACIST! I’M NOT RACIST!”
“Dude! You are fuckin’ being racist! These are good people that you are blatantly disrespecting! Get the fuck out!!!” His younger brother yelled, “You guys I’m so sorry– Get the fuck out so I can beat your ass myself!”
They fought back and forth for a while. Later looking on my video, I recorded over 5 minutes.
Like a broken record, he demanded we admit to being related, give HIM an apology, all the while trying to fight his brother in the back seat.
“Should I just call the police?” I said, knowing it would either escalate or diffuse the situation.
“Why would you call the police?! I’m not doing anything wrong!”
“Dude! This is San Francisco!!!” His brother yelled desperately, “These are good people! You’re being so racist towards innocent people! I called a pool! I’m never bringing you back here again! Now get the fuck out of the car so I can beat your ass myself, you Oklahoma piece of shit!”
Finally he motioned to get out of the car. Again he grabbed my Uber driver’s seat and leaned in, “Look, I just wanted an apology for you guys disrespecting us and using this service to pick up your family. That’s all I wanted,” and finally opened the door. At this point his brother is physically trying to pull him out. He slams the door and his brother throws him against the car. My driver let out a huge sigh, irritated that not only did they delay this whole ride, but that they were close to damaging his property as well.
They finally took it to the street and we drove off. Through the side mirrors could see them getting physical.
“I’m sorry,” the Uber driver told me. And that made me so sad. The fact that he basically was a victim and still kept his professional hat on.
“You don’t need to be sorry!” I told him. He really could’ve been someone’s grandpa. And that made me even more sad! I started crying, “That was so racist…. like he thought we were related just because we’re Asian.”
“Yes… It’s a pool. I pick up other people,” he probably felt really awkward that I was crying but I couldn’t contain it.
We were finally at my house. Before I got out of the car I let him know that I had my pepper spray and was ready to use it if he put his hands on him or threatened him in any way. I also begged and urged him to get pepper spray for protection.
I got to my room and just cried. Out of frustration, fear, and the reality of it. This happened in my hood?! In the Bay Area this racist shit happened?! The reality set in that even in the diverse bubble of San Francisco / Daly City, stuff like this really does happen.
I cried over the fact that I held in all my come backs because I was afraid of what they would do to me as a woman. I cried because even in the situation of possible self-defense I believed it would be turned on me. I cried because even if I were to call police, and I was the victim, I’m still a person of color going against a Caucasian male who truly believed he was right. I cried because this is probably very minor in the spectrum of racist situations other people go through.
I of course contacted Uber. They just refunded my money and apologized. I was debating on posting the video, or making a blog post on it. But at the time just rewatching it made me upset. So after a lot of thought, I deleted it.
It’s a hard pill to swallow to realize that some people in this society really don’t care if you’re from here or not, born in America or elsewhere, if you can speak English fluently or not, as long as you are a minority/ person of color you are seen and treated as “less than.” Sad truth.
This is America.