Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: To Uber or not to Uber; that is the question

You think you’re being responsible by not drinking and driving. But what if the person you’ve hired to transport you isn’t doing any better behind the wheel?

A buddy came in from New York last weekend to take me to the Janet Jackson concert. Since she was staying at my place, we thought it would be easiest to use one of the popular ride-hailing apps to and from the show. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about parking or a DUI. But both trips proved worrisome despite our efforts, since we had to keep a constant eye on each driver to make sure we arrived at our destinations safely.

Our first was Jose. I knew things didn’t look good when he couldn’t even find my house for the pickup. I don’t live in a neighborhood with a complicated street plan, but for some reason, Jose and I had to talk on the phone twice before he could find us, standing in the street, waving him down.

I let Jose know we were going to Chastain Park Amphitheater and my friend and I relaxed into another conversation. A few minutes later I looked through the window, saw Jose was attempting to get to I-75 North, and realized he was heading to Chastain ROAD near Kennesaw State! I gently got his attention and told him how to get back toward Buckhead. Once we were in the vicinity of Chastain Park, my friend and I had to leave poor Jose in traffic and walk the last mile to the venue or we wouldn’t have made the concert on time.

It rained during the concert, so we were drenched and ready to get indoors by the time our second driver arrived. Our initial conversation with James was good; we shared our positive review of Janet Jackson and listened to his tales of picking up fares from the TomorrowWorld electronic music festival. Then, as he was driving up the ramp onto I-285, James said, “So, I take it you girls like country music?”

Confused, my friend and I arched our eyebrows at each other; silently questioning what country music clues we might be giving off. Then James began multitasking: he pulled an iPod (yes, an iPod) from his console while merging into rainy traffic and thumbed to his country playlist while talking to some technology to get Bluetooth to pick up his new selections. I kept an eye on the road and was silently thankful the drink lines had been too long at the show to dull my senses. Once the music began playing, he sped up his pace and started jamming out. While some guy crooned about cheap beer, I focused on a mantra from “Rhythm Nation” and on my need to get out of that car as soon as I could.

I appreciate the ability of ride-hailing services to provide freelance drivers with an extra paycheck, but not everyone should apply for that job. If these guys were any indication of their workforce, you’d be better off teetotalling and driving yourself.

Melissa Carter is one of the Morning Show hosts on B98.5. In addition, she is a writer for the Huffington Post. She is recognized as one of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta and one of the few in the country. Follow her on Twitter@MelissaCarter