The Adventures Of Mark Uber
August 29, 2017 | by Mark Stephen O'Neal
I’ve been an Uber driver since February 2016, and so far, it’s been a life-changing experience for me. The name Mark Uber came from a passenger that I picked up last summer. I picked up a group of twenty-somethings from a club on the near northside, and they were going to another club in the north loop area. All of them were buzzed, and one of the young ladies asked me my name, and she immediately came up with the name that will soon be on the cover of my future book.
Uber is the first gig I’ve had that allows me to make money whenever I need it—emergency cash to pay a bill, take a trip or dine at any restaurant I choose. No more running to the payday loan stores when I’m in a financial crisis because the high interest always made a bad situation worse.
Registration via the Uber app was quick and painless, and it took several weeks for them to run a background check on me. I mistakenly signed up under the Wichita, Kansas office a year prior; and I didn’t follow through after completing the application. It was then imperative that I contact customer service because the app didn’t function properly once I was approved and ready to drive.
My first experience with Uber was surprisingly normal—well—almost normal. I had worked my regular nine to five job at the law firm, and drove for Uber from six-thirty to nine o’clock. Once I got off the Metra train at the 138th Street Riverdale stop, I began my driving experience. My goal was to start in the south suburbs and work my way downtown where the money is. Being a newbie, I didn’t have a full understanding of how the process worked, but I knew I could figure it out as I go.
The Dan Ryan Expressway had light traffic going northbound, and I headed to the Loop and didn’t receive a fare until I reached 87th Street. Wow, my first fare, and I was excited and nervous. The indicator on the app chimed and flashed simultaneously, and the address shown on my phone was a woman on 83rd and Holland Road. What? She was only a half mile away, but I was unfamiliar with Holland Road. How could I not know where this street was being raised on the southside of Chicago?
I drove to Vincennes Avenue by Simeon High School, and the app kept redirecting me to the point of total confusion. My first fare was now sure to be a disaster, and the passenger was probably going to curse me out and give me a bad rating. I eventually figured out that Holland Road was where the new Walmart and Lowe’s were located, and to my surprise, the lady was understanding when I finally arrived at her pickup—a hair salon. She lived a few blocks away, and the conversation was pleasant. I got a five-star in spite of getting lost. Thank God. The Adventures of Mark Uber will be released Spring 2018.