If we have to be on the other side of the city, we have a choice: do we take the tram, bus, train or take an “Uber”.
An “Uber” is a kind of private taxi. Taxi sounds luxurious, but there is “something” about it…. Example:
This morning we had to pick up our van at the garage because our van was broken (don’t worry, Lars, our van is now working fine again).
That is a ride of 9 kilometers, right through the center to the other side of the city. It takes you an average of 25 minutes and if you are out of luck, longer… And now comes the problem:
That ride cost 5.43 Euros. (for comparison, if you are traveling with 2 people, a taxi is cheaper in this example)
And then you start counting…. A real kilometer allowance is 0.39 per kilometer. Gasoline, insurance, car depreciation, the whole picture. Oh yes, taxi insurance is expensive on this side of the globe… luckily they don’t have to pay road tax. Anyway,
9×0.39 = 3.51 Euros.
That means that the driver drove 25 minutes for 1.92 Euro??
No. Because of that amount, a percentage also goes to Uber itself for mediation. Let that be one Euro per ride. Then there is 0.92 Euro left??
For a 25-minute drive??
Would you like to drive all day through the center of (for example) Atlanta for that amount? Even by Polish standards, this is an amount that you can never get by.
And that also explains why the Ubers are the way they are on this side of the globe. We always play a game when we get in. The ride gets one point for every thing on the list:
- Phone screen broken
- Light on dashboard with engine failure or things like that.
- Driver is not from Poland
- Vague smelly “thing” on mirror
- Car makes scary noises like a wheel is taking off.
The maximum number of points can be more than 5 because every scary light that is lit is a point. So defective airbag + engine failure = 2 points. Two phones in the car and both broken? 2 points.
The average Uber has 4 points….. This morning’s car had a driver from Azerbaijan, phone screen broken, engine failure light on, and the car made a noise as if the rear axle was about to come off. So, 4 points.
It seems like a fun game, right?
Well… until you realize what kind of life that driver has… driving a broken car all day with people who don’t speak your language. Because this driver didn’t speak Polish, English or German either. Then you sit in the car all day, you see people, but you don’t speak to anyone. How lonely can you be.
So, we also do another, way more serious game… because this driver also spoke.. (besides Azerbaijani) Russian!
With every ride, we try to have a conversation with them about the more serious matters… and we start with the question: how is your family?
And then most of them go TOTALLY loose! Finally,(!) someone asks how they are. In (with a little luck) their own language. Stories about family, the beautiful culture they miss, how they have been working for so long but are happy to have something to do, and also why they are here. They just don’t stop… and that is striking and indicates what the rest of the day is ahead of them. A day without real contact with anyone… all day they see people, but they speak… nobody.
And then suddenly it really is about something. A beautiful moment of humanity in a completely disturbed world. A small effort for us, a great pleasure for them.