A Reprieve of the Uber Kind

The night is darkest before the dawn.

After a post headed “Alice Is Out of Work” written ten days ago, darkness enveloped me.  Everything seemed bleak, hence our GoFundMe post.

Ten days since, light surrounds us, and I am ready to remove the GoFundMe appeal.

GoFundMe post brings contribution

To bring you up to date, an almost immediate response to our cry for help came from a dear friend in Bucks County who gave a $200 contribution.  Alice and I are overwhelmed by his generosity, and plan to respond in kind by writing a firsthand account of nearby pinot noir wineries.

Writing about wine tours was an idea posited by him a month ago, and his donation should enable us to do a creditable job.  Consequently, once it is written, we will send him an advance copy of the story, because writers swell with pride when earning their keep from readers’ help.

But that’s not the biggest news.  In early November, I applied for a freelance job driving for Uber, but was rebuffed by the background-check company that Uber relied upon to validate application data.

The problem?  That company didn’t check my driving record beyond what existed in Oregon.  Even though I am a senior, I was listed as having less than one year’s driving experience.

Uber certification at last

Six months after supplying my Pennsylvania driver’s license information, in addition to attaining a Portland business license, vehicle inspection, first-aid kit and fire extinguisher, I finally received Uber certification to go with the logo we pasted on Betsy, our 2010 Ford Escape.

When?  Last week.  It felt like some kind of answer from a nondenominational heaven after wringing one’s hands in desperation.

Are drivers employees of Uber?

Uber is the result of what happens when technology transforms the car-service business.  The product is called ride-sharing, and unlike a judge’s ruling in San Francisco this week, its drivers are not employees.

I set my own hours: not from a company-mandated list of options.  I have full freedom to determine what hours I work, based upon my own schedule, not the company’s.  What employer lets its workforce do that?

What Uber is doing – community after community – is lowering prices.  Limousines are unnecessarily extravagant, considering what their drivers are paid.  And limo drivers work under horrendous conditions, too.  People at CBS News are still mourning the loss of Bob Simon to a limo driver’s blunder.

Cab drivers don’t compare to Uber drivers

Taxicabs are pricey, too, and their drivers are not exactly pick of the litter.  Meet a few Uber drivers, and you will be able to make comparisons.

This week, I finished working a part-time schedule as an Uber driver and am optimistic enough to write this update.  Hats should go off to Kaiser Permanente who forgave our entire medical debt; that is a huge help.  We’re currently trying to convince Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital to reduce that bill to half its current size.

Here’s the downside of this good news, though.  Alice brought me to Oregon so I could write more, but writing time will now be limited until debts are brought under control.  I hope to add two new entries to the website each week.

Also, I worry about Alice when I’m not home.  Will a new emergency arise while I’m not there?  How can she let me know something’s wrong?

From a positive perspective, being an Uber driver will help me learn more about Portland and Portlanders.  I can explore the area more, and detail findings on this website.

Thanks for all the good wishes and thoughts.  I wish today’s readers had more resources, considering how easy I am self-critical when the cupboards get bare.  But I accept the improved situation as it currently stands.

Stay tuned.  Considering the quality of readers this website has attracted, new entries will continue to appear.

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