Evan Kail, the author of “Ubered: My Life as a Rideshare Driver,” has found himself a book deal with Texas-based Black Rose Writing.
“It’s a small, independent publisher,” Kail said Monday. “I found them through a website, authors.me. Now the book is in paperback for the first time. They are very excited about the book. They like to forge relationships with emerging authors, so it’s perfect. I digitally self-published a year ago and now I’ve received backing to put physical books in readers’ hand. I didn’t want to print books when I was self-published because I was afraid of poor quality.”
Kail will sign copies, do a reading and take questions Saturday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., at 1307 N. 2nd Av., Minneapolis. That’s the location of Blasted Art Inc., owned by my friend Kerry Dikken. When Kail, who is also a friend, told me the setting he imagined for his book-release party, I pointed him to Dikken. I previously produced a video with Kail about his book, which included an exciting ride-along (bit.ly/2ksuefn).
Q: Has either Uber or Lyft contacted you since you originally wrote “Ubered?”
A: No. I’m quite surprised, especially because I believe I now own the copyright to the word “Ubered.” Maybe I’ll call the sequel “Lyfted” so I can broaden my copyright assets.
Q: Which service is better?
A: More like which service is worse. I’ve caught Uber [pocketing] my no-show fees. They once even changed the split from 80/20 to 70/30 and waited to see if I’d notice. (They claimed it was a “whoops,” but I don’t buy it.) What’s good about Uber is their customers don’t expect much, and since it’s the Kleenex of ride-share, rides are frequent and close together. Lyft is like “Planet of the Apes.” Its customers are the worst, they don’t tip, [and they] back-seat drive, complain. Lyft as a company infuriates me with their ethos. They [preach] a sense of “community” but they are to community like Donald Trump University is to alumni status. Also, their standards for drivers [are] obscene. You get these calls on Lyft that are like 15-20 minutes away, at a regular rate. You will lose money if you take the trip, but if you ignore it, it hurts your driver score and Lyft will send you warning e-mails about skipping trips. Neither grants sacred employee status to its drivers and that’s the whole crux of the ride-share problem and why it’s not sustainable as an occupation.
Q: How many times did riders vomit in your car?
A: In the 7,000-plus rides I gave, I had 14 pukers. I invoked a cleaning fee on nine of them. I was in a fraternity in college, so puke doesn’t bother me, but it’s always a nasty experience, especially when I can tell what a passenger ate. On the one hand it’s a lucrative experience ($150 fine usually which goes straight to me), on the other it’s gross. I can tell when someone’s going to puke and I’ve both driven off and canceled, and I’ve allowed them in knowing what would happen. It goes to show drivers aren’t paid enough when they have to resort to tactics like that.
Q: How many times were you hit on by passengers?
A: I drove at night, late, and most of my clientele were drunk. A lot of them were disgustingly inappropriate. [In “Ubered,”] I detail some really shocking sexual harassment. One rider who I nicknamed “the creep” in my book asked me point blank how big my [penis] was, and then started digging through my glove box, found my name, and tried to add me on Facebook. I was propositioned for sex numerous times. A few were overly friendly to me and had to be told, “hands to yourself.” Three different men tried to contact me after the ride and two got my personal number. There’s a misconception that as a male it’s OK to be sexually harassed, and it’s not. That sentiment is extended further in the gay community and as an LGBT driver I had to put up with a lot.
Q: What is the subject of your next book?
A: I’ve finished first drafts of two new books which I’m hoping to put out in 2018. I’m done writing about my Uber experiences after this next book, a sequel to “Ubered” since this book is only the first year, and I did it for three. The other is a fiction book about Nazi hunters in the 1950s. I can’t reveal any more details quite yet.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”