HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE AN ARSEHOLE? UNLIKE BAD BREATH, IT’S SOMETHING EVEN YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS ARE LOATH TO POINT OUT BECAUSE… WELL, YOU’RE AN ARSEHOLE, SO YOU’LL PROBABLY BE A JERK ABOUT IT.
Sure, the odd stranger will tell you; bouncers are quite fearless about doing this, but they tend to do it when you’re drunk, so you don’t take them seriously, and what would they know anyway?
Fortunately, modern technology has come up with an arsehole test, one that’s pretty well infallible and involves your persona and behaviour being judged by a group of random strangers who get to meet and evaluate a lot of people every day as part of their job. It’s called Uber and, if there’s even a lingering doubt in your mind that you might have some dislikeable, arrogant or rude personal traits, you should try it.
Uber is, of course, the ‘ride-sharing’ app that allows you to pay punters to drive you around in their private vehicles – a service that Wheels recently had a crack at in the form of Bonzer.
You might even know that part of Uber’s genius is that you get to rate your driver after you get out of their car, just as you would rate a seller on eBay. If their driving is erratic, they can’t follow the directions their phone is giving them, they listen to too much Alan Jones, or they smell like the outdoor pokie room at your local dive, you might choose to rate them one star out of five.
If a driver consistently averages below three stars, he or she will be asked by Uber to explain why they should get to keep their licence. If their marks stay low for too long, they’re out of a job.
Simple, and brilliant.
What you probably don’t know is that the Uber drivers are also asked to rate you, as a passenger, using the same simple star system. So if you treat them like dirt, have loud conversations on your mobile phone about what a loser your Uber driver is, or simply pretend they don’t exist because they’re beneath you, your average rating will quickly fall below three stars as well. Keep up th bad work and, boom, you’re out. Uber will cancel your account and you simply won’t be allowed to use the service any more, purely because you’re an arsehole.
An Uber driver explained this to me recently and admitted he’d seen it happen – to his brother-in-law, who is the kind of prize jerk who treats all serving staff as if they’re something a dog has left on the street that’s become affixed to his expensive loafer.
“My sister put him onto Uber, and he loved the idea that it was a bit cheaper than getting cabs, so he was right into it,” reported my driver, who looked a bit like The Dude from The Big Lebowski. “But I warned her that he was going to get found out. Sure enough, he lasted two weeks and they shut down his account. So my sister told him, ‘See, this is because you’re an arsehole to people; this is what you get’. I think it was a wake-up call for him. Well, I hope it was.”
Uber didn’t set out to create a system of trial by personality, judged by randomly selected peers, but by accident, grace or whatever, it has succeeded.
So, are you game to take a ride?
THERE are many ways to make your regular taxi driver angry – ask him to tune into a non-talkback station, take a short fare from the airport – but nothing works better than this question: “What do you think of Uber?”
You can understand why it makes them insane. They’ve gone through at least half an hour of special taxi-driving training in how to ride the brakes and avoid showers at all times, and many of them have paid a fortune for their taxi plates and licences.
But why doesn’t the industry respond? Why not set up an app that’s as good as Uber, and let customers rate cab drivers on their performance?
You can bet that would cull a few from the herd pretty damn sharpish.