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8 secrets you learn being an Uber driver in Los Angeles

It’s not all it’s cracked up to be

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published February 2014 and has been updated with the most recent information.

Like it wasn't bad enough being driven around by out-of-work actors, now GQ writers are driving for UberX, which, like Lyft (with the mustaches) is just like a cab, but without the strict regulations or high costs involved. Riders use an app to hail drivers, who use their own cars; Uber takes a cut.

A GQ writer recently signed up as a driver and spent a week finding out what it's like to be a not-cabbie in Los Angeles (his epiphany moment came when a woman decided to go home with her date).

Here are some things he learned:

  • You get a special Uber iPhone that comes loaded up with the Uber app, which is used to take 20 percent of your money each time you drive.
  • Even so, it seems to be wildly popular with drivers: "The day I picked up my phone I saw a good 300 people doing the same thing."
  • And the app has a hotspot map: "Staring at the heat map is like being connected to the Matrix; you can see where shit is going down. Late on a Tuesday night? Culver City ... On weekends, Venice."
  • It's kind of sexy? "I'd be lying if I said there wasn't something sexual about the whole thing, too. Early one morning, I picked up a guy in West Hollywood and drove him to his hotel. We made eye contact in the rearview more times than could be called accidental, and when I pulled up to the lobby, I thought for a moment that he was going to ask me in. 'It's been a long week,' he said. It sounded like an invitation. ($14.)"
  • How are you supposed to know that 4100 is a bar on Sunset without any context at all? You just are. People will just get in your car—after making you wait 15 minutes for them—say a number to you, and expect you to interpret that number correctly.
  • Riders will expect you to turn a blind eye to their shenanigans (like when they recommend a coke dealer to a friend while riding with you) and they will conform to neighborhood stereotypes (Silver Lake riders will be fashionable, bandana-sporting young people).
  • The fun of solving the mystery of where your passengers are going is addictive, but beware: The just-one-more attitude could have you driving a guy from Beverly Hills all the way to Malibu at 1 a.m.
  • In a week of driving (24 rides), you'll only make $312, after Uber's taken its cut.