I recently had a rideshare driver ask if I was on my way “to party” at 5 pm on a Wednesday. When I muttered that I was not, he took that as an invitation to ask when I “partied,” where, and, how often. An option for a “quiet” ride probably would have been helpful, was I the sort of person assertive enough to select it.
According to The Guardian, a new feature on the Uber app allows riders to choose between “quiet preferred,” “happy to chat,” and “no preference.” While many drivers are worried about how the option will affect their ratings, some are also concerned about the dehumanizing aspect of being told to zip it via a smartphone app:
“Jay Cradeur, a driver who has completed more than 24,000 rides for Uber, told the Guardian the button was another step toward dehumanizing drivers.
“‘It feels like they are just turning us into robots,” Cradeur said. “This feature is telling us to just shut up and drive, and as a human being, I don’t like being told how to do my job.’”
But some drivers don’t like the guesswork involved in assessing whether or not a passenger wants to chitchat, vent, or be left alone:
“Forced conversation has come to feel like an extra layer of labor drivers aren’t compensated for, some say. Mohammad Sadiq Safi, a driver with Uber, previously told the Guardian that determining how to interact with passengers takes a toll.
“‘It is too hard to give happiness to everyone,” he said. “Every passenger is different: someone is drunk, someone is happy, every person has their own issues and when they come into your car you have to deal with the situation, so it is hard for us emotionally.’”
It’s easy to see both sides. On one hand, I have had some charming conversations with drivers that probably wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t asked me a few questions. For example, I once rode with a man who also worked security at several Los Angeles hotels and told me about grisly deaths and ghosts of which I would have otherwise been unaware. But on the other, I also had the party inquisition.
In either case, my Southern paranoia around strangers perceiving me as rude precludes me from ever selecting the quiet option, so if anyone uses it, please do tell how it goes.