Uber Tales, Uber Fails

Wildcats dish on their wild rides.

By Elizabeth Santoro

From late nights at the Deuce to just getting across town, Uber has been a lifeline for Northwestern students. Sometimes, the ride isn't so smooth.

The following transcripts have been edited for length and clarity.

New to the City

as told by William Xiao, McCormick sophomore

I’m coming back to campus after break. The thing is, Uber can’t technically pick up at the airport, so I set the pin a little ways off and call the driver to come. He says, “Oh yeah, I’ll be right there,” but he keeps trying to go to the address on the pin. I keep trying to explain to him that I’m at the airport and he can pick me up at Terminal 2.

Finally, 45 minutes after I first call the ride, he shows up at O’Hare Terminal 2. I get in the car and he’s apologizing profusely: “I’m so sorry. I’ve only been in Chicago three days.”

O’Hare has these rumble strips. Every time he goes over them, he brakes. I explain to him that it’s not your car, just these strips on the ground. I think he understands me, but then we go over another one and he does the same thing.

On the highway, he gets a phone call and says, “Oh, let me take this.” We’re in an exit-only lane, and he mistakenly takes the exit. Once he realizes that, he decides we need to get back on the expressway. Then he just goes for it. He just crosses [the road over the white cross-hatch marks] and we’re back on the highway, but it’s still an exit-only lane and he’s still on the phone. He takes the next exit and does the same maneuver. Eventually, we get off the highway and I’m feeling a little better.

We finally get back on campus, but I live all the way up north. Instead of having him drive more, I tell him to drop me in the Allison parking lot. In the end, I sort of feel bad for the guy and end up giving him four stars. Maybe he’ll get better.

The Mystery Driver

as told by Gina Lupica, Communication sophomore

It’s very early, and I need to get home from North Campus. I only need to go a couple blocks, but because I’m not dressed properly, I call an Uber. My boyfriend and I go outside to the Sargent parking lot. I see an unmarked car, and he’s just waiting there. It looks like he’s waiting for someone, so I open the back door. I say, “Hi, are you the Uber?” He just mumbles, “Yes,” so I get in, my boyfriend gets in, and then we shut the door and drive two minutes. We get out and I say, “Thank you so much.” He sits there for a minute. I just close the door and go inside the house.

Then as soon as I go inside, I get a phone call from an unknown number. I pick it up and it’s the real Uber driver saying, “Okay, I’m here. Where are you?” I say, “Oh my god, I already got in a car. I thought it was you.” He freaks out at me and starts yelling, “I drove all the way up here. Why did you get into another car? I’m here. I’m going to drive around and charge you money because you wasted my time. You wasted gas.” I say, “Well, I’m sorry there was a car there and you weren’t there and he was. I’m sorry. It was a mistake, but fine, go ahead and charge me if you want to do that.”

So I hang up and I get a receipt five minutes later. He circles the parking lot twice. It’s a $2 charge for this Uber drive I never got. Then I realize that the other guy who took me home had no way of charging me, so that ride was technically free. I don’t know who the mysterious Uber driver was.

2 Drivers + 1 Accident = Home

as told by Francisco Castro, McCormick sophomore

We exit out of Midway but then all of a sudden, he runs over a median or something. I’m in the back seat on my phone just chilling and then all you hear is “blihhhhh, boom,” like something has hit our car. The right bumper of our car is dented in and skidding against the road.

We’re on the South Side of Chicago. He pulls off to a little neighborhood, and I just don’t feel safe at all. He spends 20 minutes fixing the car and I don’t even know what he’s doing. I look outside. There’s nothing he can do to fix it. He’s just touching it, trying to make the bumper go up.

Even though the car is still broken, we get back on the highway. Everything’s going fine, but all of a sudden you hear that sound again, the “blihhhhh.” This time we pull over to the right shoulder of the highway and then he tries to fix the bumper. I say, “Hey, I’m just gonna get a new taxi.” He says, “Alright, fine, fine. I’ll get you a new taxi.” After calling the new taxi, we have to wait there for like 15 minutes on the right shoulder of the highway. Once the other taxi comes up, I get in. The new taxi driver drives me away at a decent speed and doesn’t try to charge me extra. It’s perfect.

Illustration by Vasiliki Valkanas