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Taxicabs get Uber trendy

By Celia Rivenbark

I live in a small Southern city where all the taxicabs are at the airport, so imagine my surprise when trendy Uber cab announced that it would be coming to my neck o’ the woods to compete with our proud fleet. OK, proud fleet might be a bit of a stretch, since many of them have painted “We unlock cars” on their vehicles, and a bunch more have slogans that imply they exist solely to help your drunk butt out.

“You drink, we drive!” “It’s Party Time!” “Hey! Why Don’t You Get Hammered While I Go Over Here and Unlock Somebody’s Car!”

I love taxicabs because they are at once indulgent and sketchy. You can afford to pay somebody to drive you around, but you may have to wade through a few burrito wrappers on the floor. Get over yourself.

This seems like a good time to mention my favorite/most harrowing cab ride ever. It happened three years ago in New York, where we were meeting friends in Chinatown. From our midtown hotel, that was apparently a distance of 476 miles. Who knew? In the midst of this clownishly long ride that briefly veered onto the sidewalk and nearly knocked over a bunch of Peking ducks drying on a stick, we also witnessed what Duh Hubby called the single most exquisite “flight” of that rarest of birds – the double-knuckled flip-off – that he had ever seen.

You know what they say. You should leave some jobs to the professionals – like brain surgery and sausage-making and flipping off other drivers. When it comes to flipping off some ig-ner-ant jaywalking tourist or even a fellow cabbie who merged too aggressively, well, this driver was poetically nimble, firing up both enormous, hairy middle fingers in an awe-inspiring demonstration of contempt.

There was no thought given to “hands at 10 and 2.” We were just grateful that he was a flippin’ savant when it came to steering with his wrist bones.

I love cab rides, and I’m intrigued by how Uber can make anybody with a clean driving record, nice car and insurance a taxi driver. You summon your Uber ride via an app downloaded on your phone. No need to give an address because GPS technology means the “cabbie” knows exactly where you are. The nearest Uber car is the one that picks you up. It’s so incredibly quick that you could text him now and … OK, he’s outside. Uber is so fast it makes pizza delivery in 30 minutes seem like it’s coming by wagon train.

Your Uber account is linked to your credit card, and fees are based on demand. Busy nights will cost more. But there’s no cash to fish for, and the tip is included, so there’s no awkward fumbling.

Not surprisingly, traditional cab companies hate Uber, which doesn’t have to follow local laws governing rides-for-hire in most cities. It isn’t fair, but they shouldn’t worry. There’s always that car-unlocking business to fall back on.

rivenbark.com

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