Ok, pardon me while I continue to experiment with writing entries on the iPhone. My last attempt didn’t go as well as I would have liked, because I couldn’t and still can’t get the HTML to look right. We’ll see if this goes better.
Anyway, today’s post is to be about my experiences with the car sharing service Uber, with which I have navigated Durham for almost a year now. Actually, according to the stats they emailed me when celebrating having been in the Triangle for an entire year, I’ve used these folks 62 times. Sixty-four now, as a href=”http://www.blindtravel.net/follow-up-my-first-uber-experience/” target=”_blank”>first trip with them, I went today to have my hearing aids repaired. (My trip to Charlotte was brought to a screeching halt by the right side’s clogging yesterday, not fun&) I was therefore forced to take a day off of work and schedule a last-minute appointment. Maybe someday I’ll master the skill of acting more preventatively, but in my defense this time I didn’t notice that I was losing hearing till too late.
Given the similar reasons for going, I thought it would be fun to compare and contrast those experiences. So, here we go.
It took me a while to force myself from the cover’s comfort and start the day. Once I did though, I took a relatively short shower because it was so hot out. It didn’t take long for that steam to become dangerous. It was 11:15 at this point, and after an hour of goofing around on Facebook I decided I needed to get going.
There are a few things I’ve noticed as Uber has matured in this area. The first is that they’re a lot more likely to go into surge pricing during mid day than they had been before. This means that fares can increase by up to three times, in order to get drivers on the road. I have to say though that their regular fare is now so low that I’ll likely still book at even twice the rate.
On initial launch of the app, after being told there were no cars available, it went into surge mode. Then, some began to arrive once the higher prices were activated. Fortunately for me, by the time I’d tried using Lyft, a competitor app that does the same thing, (also unsuccessful), I found that the surge had ended. A ride was available in five minutes.
A kind female driver, undergrad at one of the local universities, came to get me. That’s the other thing I’ve noticed about Uber: far more women seem to drive for them than for traditional taxis. She said it was only her second week, and she only does it when time can be taken from summer class. She did a good job getting me to my destination, huge potholes and long traffic lights notwithstanding, such that I had 45 minutes to kill before my 2:00. I spent this time working on my 25th book of the year, halfway through my 50 book 50 author challenge of 2015!
The usual audiologist who sees me calls me back. The first thing she wants is to have a look in my ears. Uh-oh!
“Now you know what I always say to you about this whenever I see you,” she says.
Ah, of course; I need to get that impacted wax cleaned! Only, any mention of this traumatizes me due to an attempt at UNC Hospital that didn’t go well.
After servicing the aids for me, she called said hospital to inquire about possibly having me sedated before giving it another go. Turns out that they will only sedate if it’s part of another procedure.
So, she offers to try cleaning the ears herself, breaking into different sessions if necessary. Once she gets started though, I find the process to be relatively painless, which allows her to complete work on both ears in meer minutes.
“Wow,” she says, “I can see your eardrums for the first time since I’ve known you.”
On wrapping up all the administrative niceties, including the pretty penny I had to pass on, (worth it for reliable, sensitive, last minute service), I am ready to call my return Uber ride. Thinking from the perspective of one who is totally blind and profoundly deaf, I wanted to see if I could summon a vehicle using only my Braille display. Certain onscreen components that defy my technological terminology to explain them made this task nearly impossible for me. My hope is if such individuals are using Uber, they have worked out effective means of interacting with it.
A neat feature that I did notice for the first time as I headed home, but that I know may already have been there, is an ETA to your destination right in the app. This could be quite helpful indeed.
So on the whole, I’ve loved Uber. It works well for me as a good complement to the city and regional buses, as when I needed to take a 1.5 hour bus trip to the Apple Store and opted to do this one-way, and shell out for a fifteen-minute car ride going the other direction. I haven’t heard in a while, but was disheartened by this company’s disregard for people with disabilities and unwillingness to work to stamp out discrimination in response to a suit brought by blind guide dog users who had been denied access. I sincerely hope that they will reconsider their stated position, and will take my business elsewhere if they don’t. I think that on balance, this kind of innovation has done and will continue to do us a world of good.