Former Lyft and Uber driver Evan Kail was flunking my road test and not because of his driving skills.
As you will see on my startribune.com/video, I got irked when his driving jeopardized my aging cameras. “All right, careful, [using his upper-crust voice] cautious driving,” he said.
He’s a great driver and a very good writer. Kail just self-published a book, “Ubered: My Life as a Rideshare Driver,” about his 1 ½ years in the industry. The book is a revealing adventure, made more so by the things Kail did to make sure he had stories to tell. As requested by Uber, I submitted questions for comments, but the company did not respond.
Although Lyft wanted drivers to let passengers sit in front, “I got to the point I wanted people to sit in the back, [because] basically I had the same conversations so many times,” Kail said. “I would play hypnotic music. I drove so many drunk people that it was one of my psychological tactics. I figured if I played soothing music, it would keep the [passenger] more behaved and it always did. I had people saying they felt like they were in a spa having a massage. Funny, I actually drove a massage therapist and he knew every song I was playing.”
Kail gets annoyed with people who are not “efficient with their time on the road. People who break for green lights because it’s about to turn yellow. I straight-up wanted to get out of my car and slap people who do that. That is one of the things I am not missing about doing this.”
Kids. I’ve known this one since he was a toddler. Like a parent, I advised against writing this book. Like a 20-something, the U graduate with a degree in Japanese studies ignored me.
We’re still buddies who share an interest in fast cars, artistic pursuits, video and writing, with Kail forging through YouTube and various writing projects.
Q: How does Lyft differ from Uber?
A: As far as the clientele, Lyft is like Target and Uber is like Wal-Mart. Some of the people I drove on Uber were absolute animals; I usually didn’t have problems with Lyft people. They were well behaved, they tipped. Some of my worst stories were with Uber people.
Q: How do you see the services changing?
A: Autonomous cars. They’re going to take over and whoever gets there first is going to win this whole ride-share game. I don’t think in the future human drivers are going to be allowed on the road.
Q: Will Uber ban you as a customer after what you have written about the company?
A: It might. [Laugh] I didn’t have nice things to say. When I signed up to do this, I had to meet up with a [Lyft] guy and do a road test, a guy checked my driving proficiencies. Uber, I didn’t have to do a road test with anyone. I filled out a form online and was good to go. They told me to get my car inspected and they said, We are not going to let you drive until you get your car inspected, but they let me drive before the inspection took place. I found out on the inspection I had bad brakes.
Q: What was the creepiest incident that happened?
A: A couple of different things that were pretty shocking. I was solicited for sex a couple times. People straight-up asked me if I would [have sex] for money. … One guy found out my information and stalked me on Facebook after the ride and got my number and kept calling me, a couple weeks.
Q: Was the scariest incident the guy with the gun?
Q: How did you pass the time between rides?
A: I wrote. I wrote this book. I wrote this screenplay and I edited my YouTube videos. I probably edited 40 videos. I also read a lot of books, about 30. Every time I pulled over, I always had something to do.
Q: You entered the ride-share business $30,000 in debt and now you have $50,000, between the car and school loans. Was it worth it?
A: We’ll see how this book does. Yes. I grew as a person tremendously from this. I had an incredible experience. I met so many people; I took in so much wisdom. This [Lyft] jacket, I had to give a thousand miles to get it and the only reason I wear it is … it reminds me of all the interactions, conversations.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show” and “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.