Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Oh No! Uber, Uber, Uber Everywhere! (& Lyft Too)

Like Seattle's record 2016 October (nearly 10 inches) rainfall, Uber saturation is flooding the airwaves and physical space, reminding, if anyone needed reminding, that Uber must be, should be, and seemingly is, according to Uber, both your first transportation and now, employment choice. Tune into the radio MLB World Series coverage, and every commercial break you will hear that Uber is your ultimate "side-hustle" as they are calling it, saying even at this very moment you could be in your car both listening to the Cubs and Indians battle it out and making money, suggesting you are otherwise wasting your time.

 In a recent "The Nation" magazine there was a featured article describing Uber's efforts in promoting American school teachers as the new, ideal Uber driver, making up for income the otherwise deserving teachers are not getting.  What the article didn't say is why America's teaching core (and anyone else, for that matter) are suddenly qualified to be quasi-cabbies, inserted in a work environment where, world-wide, one million-three hundred people (1.3) are dying annually along with fifty million injured (recent WHO statistics), a work environment where approximately forty thousand Americans are included in those dire numbers..  No, nothing entertaining about these grim details---only economic gain for tow trucks, auto-body repair shops and undertakers.

Did you know a car accident occurs in America every 7 seconds?  Just for fun, look at your watch and time how long it takes you to read today's entry, then divide 7 into how many seconds and suddenly then you will understand why it just might not be a good idea to insert hundreds of thousands of amateurs into a professional working environment.  Is anyone saying that is how the teaching profession should be treated, when, just knowing how to sign your name qualifies you to teach English or Biology or American History?

And of course no one would refer to educating America's children as some kind of "side-hustle," equating teachers to  "pool sharks" hustling fools at the local billiards hall but imitating cabbies, that's perfectly okay.  I know Sarah Palin would agree with that kind of assessment, adding water and mixing allowing anyone to do and be anything, even to be president of the USA. Why not, guys and gals, why not?

Other newsworthy Uber happenings are again everywhere upon local and national and international media lips. Recently one Uber driver stabbed another Uber driver in the stomach with a big kitchen knife while both were waiting in the Sea-Tac holding lot.  Another is that both Uber and Lyft are suing the City of Seattle because they are being asked to provide the same kinds of data routinely provided by taxi associations:

---annual number of rides
---where rides begin and end
---percentage of rides originating in given zip codes
---how rides are requested
---crime reports concerning drivers and customers

Uber and Lyft claim this kind of commonplace information are "trade secrets."  A court judgment in forthcoming November 15th, 2016.

Another less than complimentary Uber & Lyft news item made the front page of today's Seattle Times and also sent to me yesterday online by the NY Times, that black (African-American) riders in both Seattle and Boston have been found to have longer wait times than white (European-American) customers.

This from a joint study published Monday by researchers connected with MIT, University of Washington (here in Seattle) and Stanford University.  The Seattle Times article (reprinted from Bloomberg News & written by Eric Newcomer) states that Lyft drivers hold the ability to cancel their call requests undetected; with the study also finding that women passengers were more likely than men to being literally taken "for a ride," just because they are female, perhaps calling it another kind of "side-hustle," women riders taken that extra mile whether requested or not.  I am guessing this "service" was provided by male but not female Uber and Lyft drivers.

Yes, yes, Uber and Lyft are everywhere, in our wallets, in our hair but taking women for an extra tour around the block, how can that be fair?  To find out the answer, you might want to call your local city and county and airport regulator and administrator.  Maybe they can tell you what you need to know but I wouldn't count on it, money, it might be said, obscuring their usually normal cognitive functioning. Yes they have a brain but since you don't represent Uber or Lyft will their response to you be the same?

Or to finish a bad rhyme, will they just be simply lame!

Postscript Nov 2nd

While Uber is certainly scary, even more frightening are the results of a poll reported in the current issue of "The Week" which said, while 32 % were concerned about global climate change, an even larger percentage, about 47 % of Americans were concerned about clowns and their potential mayhem.  All I can say, you better watch out because a clown is going to sneak into your home, turning on the bathtub faucet and flood the place, just like it is happening to some Pacific island nations in the southern Pacific Ocean.  Beware, those evil clowns are gonna get you!

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