Editorial: 20 questions asked of an Uber Driver
Posted by acawmedia
My name is Kathy Brocks, founder of ACAW and an Uber driver. I began driving for Uber a while ago. Like any other contract job or regular employee job that deals with the public and issues of safety, I completed a background check. I was not allowed to drive or declare myself as an Uber driver until the investigation of my background was completed. This was okay with me because I have worked at banks, applied for government jobs and worked in areas dealing with sensitive information. A background check is the norm.
I say all because I was asked if Uber did a background check on me by a rider tonight. There are many riders who use the Uber Application and many drivers driving for Uber. There are many stories regarding Uber Executive Emil Michael’s behavior that creates a culture that is not satisfactory to females as the article by Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily, Gail Sullivan of the Washington Post Morning Mix and Ben Smith of Buzzfeed.
There is also an article by Ari Ezra Waldman, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, regarding data gathering and sharing in a large vacuum accessible by any government agency . Prof Ezra uses Uber as an example and states the medallion Taxi cab companies divulge much more information than Uber is being asked to release to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, TLC.
Sarah Lacy is the journalist Mr Michael had the misfortune of specifying in a private conversation with Ariana Huffington of the Huffington Post and Edward Norton, an actor, that resources should be used to investigate reporters, namely Ms. Lacy in part because Ms. Lacy made it her mission to tell as many investors of Uber about the sexually charged comments of the executive and how it creates a negative environment for women.
As a woman I understand the message Ms Lacy is putting forth regarding respect for women goes beyond not touching, its also in what you say about women whether public or private. It should not matter whether a man is wealthy or a working class man speaking about a woman in a derogatory manner which promotes harm is never ok. This is why I am writing this piece. While I understand Mr. Michael’s comments appeals to a certain crowd like other single men, the guy made a mistake. I am not apologizing for him. I am just a driver. But as I have to forgive Mr. Michael, I have to forgive the drunk Uber rider that fondled me, the female rider that asked me flat-out if I was gay, began smoking in my car and stopped short of propositioning me. If I forgive these riders then I also have to forgive the riders that ask me how much is my paycheck, what is my work schedule, how much does Uber Corporation charge me for being a driver, do I also drive for Lyft a competing car service, why do I drive, do I have insurance, does Uber provide insurance, do I have any children, who do I take care of, do I drive all day, when do I get off work and the questions go on and on.
Uber drivers are independent contractors working hard to earn money to provide for the needs of their households. We do not get to ask riders, “how much is your paycheck”. Upon asking why the 20 questions the response is always the same “am just curious”. Well, it’s not cool. While executives have a foot in mouth problem from time to time, targeting drivers to ask them personal questions even like, where do you live, is way beyond the scope of reason and rider safety.
I never heard a rider ask a Taxi driver, where do you live. In order to treat women, men, riders and drivers fairly, the respect must be equal. Drivers do not know rider personal information. Uber does not publish which rider was rude to a driver and was on bad behavior. Everyone has a bad day and Uber does not penalize the rider by sending out bad reports across the network. Never have I ever seen a bad report on any rider. Never have I asked for any. Riders should know that Uber does protect their privacy and the privacy of the driver.
When riders become aggressive as in sexually harassing drivers it is reported and Uber deals with that rider as an individual and does not distribute the incident. This is what happened with a late night rider who became overly aggressive with me. I did not invite or encourage any sexual behavior. The man stated I needed a boyfriend and began to demonstrate the actions of a boyfriend. I reported his actions and was told I could take any and all measures to protect myself. One measure is putting a dashboard camera in my car. Uber’s service is ride share and nothing else. Respect really is a two-way street. Respect should never just stop at the executive level, rather look at men and women as a whole and inspire mutual respect.
-Kathy Brocks, Founder of ACAW and an Uber Driver