The Uber Thing

Uber_logotype.svg copyI do not like travel-days. A joke, really, because I’ve got so many of those, travel is the reason I live the way I live, but fact is: I don’t like them. I still have way too much luggage, somehow it keeps getting more and more. I hate all that carrying and heavy lifting on those days, I am annoyed with myself that I have so much stuff, I am tired of having to get to airports, which usually involves more carrying and heavy lifting and irritating discussions with taxi drivers, it’s the days I feel that I am travelling all alone (poor me), I hate the arguments with check-in staff about my luggage (by now, I pay for 10 kilos more than I have to rather than having one more discussion about 500 grams of excess luggage), the waiting by the gate, the rush into the plane. Travel days are my black mood days. As I said – a joke.

Sydney – day of departure for Ballina in the North. I and my luggage are sitting in a café, one last green smoothie before leaving for the airport. Bravely, I am still debating with myself if I should take bus and train, but what’s the point, including carry-on luggage I’ve got 40 kilos lying next to me. I ask the waiter how much a taxi would be, and he suggests I should use Uber. Uber – aha. Never tried that, everybody seems to be talking about them at the moment, they were just forbidden to operate somewhere in Germany – mhmm. Not a bad idea. I open the App store on my iphone and download the app, within five minutes I am registered, and it can begin. I am curious – I am not really avant-garde at this moment, but finally I am doing something everybody seems to be talking about – to take an Uber taxi and kill off the poor, innocent guild of taxi drivers (as I also hate taxi drivers – sorry, I really do love you but just had too many irritating discussions recently – I don’t feel too bad about that, not even when a few stop next to me, asking if they may transport me and my luggage). I order my first Uber taxi.

Of course it’s just my luck – it’s one of those days – that I get a young man from Bangladesh who’s just got his driving license and has never been to the airport before. First, he can’t find me. Then, I helplessly sit next to him while he rolls slowly – very slowly – through the streets of Sydney, clearly having no idea where to go. When he slows down even more before each green traffic light, I can feel myself losing it, I am close to seizing control of wheel and gas pedal and showing the young man how a German drives (no speed limit, hombre!). I can just stop myself, but can’t prevent the impatient foot tapping, fingers drumming on my iphone (which by now serves as SatNav to get us to the airport, somehow). When for the second time he manages to get lost again even with satnav, he admits in broken English and a nervous smile that this is all very new to him, he’s just started, and he was never in this area of Sydney before. I’ve got one of those days, and murmur a „REALLY??? You could have fooled me!!“. He errs on, and apologises again, and again. I look at him, at the way he is sitting there, back straight and wheel firmly clamped in sweaty hands, the nervous smile plastered on his tense face, and slowly, slowly, my little black hearts melts – the poor guy, he’s just starting his new life here, he is giving his best, everything is new and exciting and scary for him, and then he’s got me sitting next to him, on my travel day!

When we finally make it to the airport, I am long patting his back, assuring him that it’s really no big deal, everybody has started at some point, I am getting lost in Sydney all the time, it’s so difficult here, totally… Because of the slow manner of getting lost often, the fare is 43 dollar, and I can’t but think how much more a real taxi would have been… probably not much more… but: I’ve done something to support the entrepreneurial spirit of a young man with migration background, and that can’t be all bad, can it?

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