By on November 29, 2016

UberSELECT

There are some absolutely terrible people in this world who are fools for prestige, suckers for any shiny bauble or deplorable frippery that might permit them the despicable foppery of believing themselves to be somehow better than their fellow men for the least justifiable of reasons.

I am one of those terrible people. I wear Kiton suits even though I am so breathtakingly ugly that no manner of haute couture can make any possible difference. I have a “Black Series” toothbrush. When I saw a fellow racer who happened to be a hugely wealthy fellow from Hong Kong pull out an “Infinite” series Visa card to lay down next to my “Signature” series Visa, I did not rest until I was also in possession of an “Infinite” Visa that was stamped from actual metal instead of merely molded out of plastic. When my plans to acquire a European noble title from some down-and-out distant relatives around the turn of the century foundered, I actually purchased a barony from a (very small, not quite legitimate) country.

There is no activity or purchase too ridiculous for me to undertake in the name of perceived prestige. Or so I thought … until the day I paid $78 dollars to ride in an Uber Select.

This was the situation: I had just driven a 29-year-old car from Los Angeles to Houston over the course of two days. Normally that’s not a tough drive, but this particular vehicle suffered from a wide variety of transmission and suspension maladies. Keeping it on a crosswind-heavy road at the 70 miles per hour it required about three-quarters of a minute to achieve was somewhat more difficult than getting a Porsche 997GT2 though the Nelson Ledges Kink at 125 mph.

20161128_161105

The trip was totally worth it, and you’ll be seeing some of the photos and commentary from said trip in the near future. But it left me absolutely knackered, as the Brit-journos would say. So when it was time for me to take the 45-minute ride to Houston Hobby Airport, I did what I had never done before: I skipped past the UberPool and UberX options, all the way to UberSelect.

Readers who do not regularly avail themselves of Uber’s services might not be aware of this, but what was once a single product — the “Uber” rideshare — has exploded into a veritable cornucopia of over-branded choices. Oldsmobile’s misuse of the “Cutlass” name circa 1984 has nothing on the way Uber has become UberX, UberXL, UberSUV, UberPool, UberBlack, and UberSelect. I think that’s all of them, not counting the food and shopping stuff. Surely “Uber Prostitution” cannot be far behind; people already use Uber to send their side pieces and escorts on a ride of shame the morning after the party.

The always-changing Uber app, which never presents me with the same look, choices, or order flow twice in a row, told me that the ride to the airport would be $34 with UberX. Or it would be $77 with UberSelect. I considered this briefly, and thought about the last few UberX rides I’d taken. A lot of cramped, weary Toyotas, trunks and hatch areas full of grime that threatened to befoul my custom-color RedOxx bags, drivers whose command of English was both minimal and surprisingly malleable depending on how the conversation was going.

For an extra forty bucks, I could skip all that. I’m now at the age in life where I’m willing to spend money to avoid misery. I park at the $16/day garage that is connected to the airport instead of at the $6/day shuttle lot because I hate the uncertainty and the noise and the crowding of the shuttle. That’s where I am as a human being right now; willing to drop $10 a day so I don’t have to ride for 10 minutes in a bus. Thirty years ago I earned two and a half dollars an hour scrubbing pizza pans after midnight so I could pay six-dollar entry fees for Saturday morning BMX races. My childhood self doesn’t understand this extended dream I live now, an endless progression of travel and attractive women and Kimpton reservations and $50 filets. Certainly he wouldn’t have spent a month’s worth of pan-scrubbing income to ride in a different kind of car to the airport.

Yet that is exactly what I did. The app told me that there was a BMW 5 Series on the way. Eight minutes later, it arrived: the undifferentiated bulk of a scratched-up black 2011 535i. The driver got out and to my amazement he was a body and face double for Skip Sudduth’s “Larry” in Ronin. He was wearing a very bright pink polo shirt. On a man who easily out-bulked me by 50 pounds, it was a spellbinding effect.

“Let me get that trunk,” he said. “It’s a little sticky.” The cargo area was littered with trash and leaves, a dead ringer for the last Corolla cave I’d put my bags in. Then he insisted on holding the door open for me and Danger Girl, one at a time.

There was zero room to be had in the seat behind this giant dude. The tan leather of the seats featured an intricate intaglio pattern of caked-in dirt, similar to the fingertips of a shade-tree mechanic in the afternoons.

“You can put the center armrest down,” the driver said. It made a crackling noise. “Going to Hobby?” he asked.

“Uh-huh,” I responded. Then, to my amazement, he started asking me about which route I wanted him to take. This is the kind of bullshit you get from Las Vegas taxi drivers who want to “long-haul” tourists. “I don’t care which way you go,” I said. “I’m not from here.”

“Well, it’s just that …” I made a hand motion to Danger Girl, who seamlessly picked up the conversation and engaged this fellow for the next five minutes as to whether or not a particular tollway should be involved. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized what had been happening: he was trying to avoid taking the tollway, since Uber wouldn’t reimburse him.

Once we were well and truly underway, the fellow started rapping to me again. Where was I from, what I was doing, and so on. I completely understand that some people like to make conversation, but part of what I was trying to buy for my $40 premium was some peace and quiet. Yet I am too much the inmate of middle-class sensitivities to forego at least a politely terse response to this kind of talk, so about half of my two-dollar-a-minute trip was spent telling this guy about Ohio while the level of his inquiries slowly ratcheted up from “polite” to “casing the joint.”

Just before we got to the part of the conversation where he asked me for my mother’s maiden name and the first street on which I lived, the tired old Bimmer struck a massive pothole. KERRANG! went the unibody. “Jesus!” the driver yelped. “Uh, sorry about that.”

“I’m sure you had no choice,” I responded. Behind us, a semi-truck carrying the blade for a giant wind turbine nimbly avoided the pothole. The next 10 minutes went relatively smoothly, except for the part where we drove straight at a minivan in a kind of Man Vs. Food showdown for a space at the airport.

“I’d better get the door,” our driver said, jumping out and tugging fruitlessly at Danger Girl’s handle until it finally crackle-popped open. By this time I had a very solid sense of why the taxis in Germany are Benzes and not Bimmers. But I still had no sense of why this pleasant, successful-looking fellow was using this car to do this particular work. Had he bought it cheap? After all, big BMWs don’t retain much value after five years. You pay used-Avalon money and you get something that’s eligible for a higher Uber class.

Yet the situation in no way struck me as similar to the Uber-by-choice setups I see in California all the time. Rather, I suspect that our driver was using the car he’d bought in happier times to make ends meet in the present. Everything pointed that way. The trunk full of leaves: a clear sign of a personal car. The driver’s befuddled, embarrassed manner, combined with too much curiosity; someone who finds their new position as a member of the service class to be both confusing and disconcerting. And the ragged shape of the BMW itself; somebody who didn’t ever plan on having a flood of casuals in the back seat and therefore hadn’t really prepared for the wear and tear that would occur.

I hope things get better for our Uber Select driver. But they’ll have to get better for him without my further assistance. Compared to UberX, UberSelect offered me no benefits whatsoever. I had no more space than I would have had in a Prius, no faster of a ride, no more pleasant of an experience. Having paid twice as much, I got nothing more. That’s the kind of deal that even the most idiotic of status-seekers can easily avoid. If you need to be seen to arrive in an old BMW, then UberSelect is for you. Everybody else should take the Prius.

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111 Comments on “Uber Select: It’s For Morons...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    I drive off and on for uber…gee, sounds like my Cruze LT with leather would make a nicer ride than this Bimmer did, but I can’t play in the ueber-uber field.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I bet the Cruze has nicer door closing sounds.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        I would add that I would have no reservations about the Cruze making it to the airport.

        The BMW? Every time I am in or drive an older large German car, I’m amazed at how much people fawn over them, how much they pay for them, and how an average Chevy, Mercury, Honda whatever holds up better.

        I test drove a mint 100k mile 1990s 420SEL in the 2000s. It broke down on me. The salesman said I must be enjoying the car since I took so long (who let’s a 19 year old ride off in a Benz alone? LOL I was as surprised as you).

        I said, “no, not exactly”.

        Most of the time I was on the shoulder of 405 letting that pile of crap cool down because I have enough mechanical sympathy not to run-it-till-it-blows like any other 19 year old would have. I even put some water of questionable quality in it at a 7-11 before heading back to the dealer so the phucker would make it intact, hopefully requiring minimum (but I’m sure quite expensive) repairs.

        The topper was when I called to inquire about insurance on it. It would be much cheaper, I discovered, to buy a nice new car at the Lincoln-Mercury dealer I worked at (was not the dealer fielding the Benz). A new Mountaineer V-8 Premier (2001, 5.0L) or a new Sable LS Platinum would run hundreds less. It was amazing. Of course I bought neither, just the comparison surprised me.

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          Sounds like my test drive back in the day of a used 528i. Fuel gauge didn’t work and my (then) first wife was behind the wheel when it decided it was done with sucking fumes.

          I’m 50% German, so older German metal still intrigues me enough that I find myself surfing ads for used E30s and such, but I don’t have the disposable funds to care and feed for such a wee-beastie, so all I can do is daydream. A properly-cared for W123 is a thing of beauty in my eyes, and built to a standard worth fawning over.

          But for now, the current wife loves the Cruze and it fills a need. And folks that ride in it are pleasantly surprised that it isn’t 100% poverty-spec.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            I had a W123. I was not impressed.

            It was a 300D TurboDiesel. Yes, things went wrong and they were astronomically high to repair (doing the labor myself). Everything leaked on it. It had an extensive maintenance history, but it was just a pile of problems.

            I sold it to the owner of an independent tire shop. His daughter drove it for about two months before they had it up for sale again.

            I am much happier in my current Taurus. I did go through a couple of non-cars after selling the Benz (Isuzu Trooper, Ford Aerostar), but the Taurus is the first sedan I bought since I dumped the Benz.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          For what it’s worth (and this is a singular case that I’ve seen), I saw a Cruze going down the highway billowing blue smoke a week ago commuting home from work. If I had to take a guess I’d say it had a blown turbo (LT with a 1.4T motor by the look of it). It was very surprising, and I’m not at all implying that it’s some sort of endemic issue to these. But I do ponder how these little forced induction motors might do 10 years down the line once it’s BHPH fodder. Stone-age sturdy 3800s these new small turbo mills are not.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            “I had a W123. I was not impressed.

            It was a 300D TurboDiesel. Yes, things went wrong and they were astronomically high to repair (doing the labor myself). Everything leaked on it. It had an extensive maintenance history, but it was just a pile of problems.”

            Buying a poorly maintained junker then not knowing how to repair it properly doesn’t make it a bad car .

            The Mercedes W123 was the MOST POPULAR TAXI IN THE WORLD for decades .

            I’m sure the entire world is wrong and you’re correct .

            Let’s see any Ford ever made go 400,000 miles on it’s original engine, tranny and ball joints .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Let’s see any Ford ever made go 400,000 miles on it’s original engine, tranny and ball joints .

            Here you go:

            http://jalopnik.com/this-is-what-a-500-000-mile-nyc-taxi-valvetrain-looks-l-1717745908

            and it’s even a hybrid!

            Anything else?

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            “and it’s even a hybrid!”

            I think the fact that it’s a hybrid may have helped its longevity instead of hindered it. My parents have owned a hybrid for 6 years now, and it’s astonishing. If you don’t drive like a jackass and don’t stomp on the brakes at the last moment and let the dynamic brakes do their job then the friction brakes last forever. At 6 years old and about 100,000 miles they still have about 50% of the factory brake pads.

            And I think that with the electric motors taking up some of the accelerating loads, the engine isn’t as stressed and runs cooler. I admit I have no direct evidence to back it up.

            I have to admit, I am fast becoming a believer in hybrids.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Devils Rotary, I agree fully. The way the power is transmitted (not through a traditional hydraulic automatic transmission) and the fact that the electric motors do a lot of the “heavy lifting” when starting from a stop is fantastic for longevity. On the new Prius, apparently the ICE actually gets spun up to something like 1500rpm to pre-lubricate it before it is actually fired up. Fantastic stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            If being a hybrid helps, have a non-hybrid Ford:
            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/town-car-comes-to-a-halt-at-490789-miles/

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            http://millionmilevan.com/

            The engine in this Ford finally went tits up at 1.3 million miles.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Only 1.3 million miles?

            Definitely F.O.R.D.!

            Seriously though I highly doubt their other non-hybrid drivetrains are as durable.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “I think the fact that it’s a hybrid may have helped its longevity instead of hindered it.”

            aaaaannnnd there go the goalposts.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Nate, it was a well maintained car kept in excellent condition. I had a book of receipts thicker than the tire sidewall.

            The transmission had been extensively worked on during the car’s life, and it had an awful 2-3 shift that would snap your neck upon under heavy acceleration.

            Fuel leaks. Coolant leaks. Oil leaks. Vacuum leaks. Suspension failure, had to replace some kind of steering component I salvaged off a 190D in the junkyard. It just broke, no warning, no impact, no reason I could find. When it broke, the wheels turned in different directions, making the car undriveable. Luckily it happened in my yard. The rear CVs were going, the pumpkin leaked, on and on.

            I know old cars have old car problems, that isn’t anything shocking. But, the way people such as yourself go on about these cars (W123), as though they never break and nothing goes wrong, I found it was quite a different experience actually owning one. It was no less trouble-prone and repair-hungry than any car its age. I saw nothing that convinced me otherwise. It just happened to be very expensive to repair and maintain, with worse handling, slower acceleration and worse MPG than my Taurus. So, f me for liking my car over it, huh?

            Oh, and the junk 190D actually didn’t have 568207 miles either, it had less than my Taurus does now. So did my 300D.

            The VW Beetle and Nissan Tsuru are very popular taxis south of our border. I guess that makes them excellent cars? You can have them.

            Btw, I have driven a 90s Ford Crown Vic with over a million miles on it, it smoked like Cheech and Chong on April 20th, but it ran.

            My dads truck isn’t far from 400K, and although the engine wasn’t made by Ford, the rest of the truck was and is extremely reliable. My dad bought it new. No new suspension outside of shocks, no rebuilt trans or rear axle or any other major component. The worst non-engine issue was a power steering line that failed a couple of years ago, and the average things like one alternator, one water pump, and one starter, but that’s it. Actually, the most trouble has been the oft-praised 7.3L PowerStroke engine, requiring a couple sensors, new injectors (to be fair, after a tank of bad fuel), part of its wiring harness, a control module and of course, glow plugs. Still not bad for the mileage/age. It was used as a truck, too, pulling a travel trailer for many of its miles.

            Love how the Ford Jim cited was discredited due to being a Hybrid. As though old Diesel engines aren’t known for reliability as modern Hybrids are (save for Prius batteries).

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Well John ;

            Using limited examples is cherry picking .

            I was looking at real world large numbers .

            I have no doubt your car was awful and you have good results from another one but I also know that most of my vehicles come from scrap piles and are reliable and don’t leak ’cause leaks drive me crazy .

            FWIW, everyone hates the American Market Ford Escorts from the 1980’s right ? .

            Psycho-B*tch had a mangled ’82 Escort GL stripper and I loved it because it was fun to drive , dead easy to fix and super cheap on every level .

            Point being : NOT ‘f you’ because you like a different brand, just keep reality on the edge of your awareness .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I wonder the same thing, gtem.

            Last summer, while babysitting my buddy’s RX-8, I was approaching a certain set of lights with it at a T-intersection that has long wait times. At about two blocks away, the light went green. The traffic line-up was very short so I figured I’d make it no problem if I punched it. I did, and would have easily made the light, but ended up having to stop anyway because the people at the light took so long that one car in each lane didn’t even get through. Twice the number of cars could have made it if they were paying attention and accelerating in a reasonable manner.

            So I was slightly annoyed and when it finally went green again I managed to vent a little by hitting the gap between the turbo Hyundai Santa Fe in front of me and the slower sedan beside me. The scream of the Mazdaspeed aluminum intake woke the Santa Fe driver up and he decided that he wanted to be the fastest guy on the road but I was already revving high so I blew by him and continued up to 9000 rpm in second. I then saw the light a few blocks ahead turn yellow so I went directly to sixth and coasted as he screamed by me so that he could wait at the light. The light turned green just as I got there and he punched it so he wouldn’t have to face the indignity of being passed again and I saw a thick, hazy cloud of oily smoke leave the exhaust.

            I’d bet that sort of thoughtless driver regularly gets on that thing hard while it’s cold and shuts it down hot.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Uber is likely burning through 2 billion USD per year, is surviving on 13 billion USD it raised from initial investors, and likely loses 41% on each fare that is booked using its app & independent contractor drivers.

      http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/can-uber-ever-deliver-part-one-understanding-ubers-bleak-operating-economics.html

      But it has a market cap of nearly 70 billion USD.

      Tech bubble 2.0

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        Great to see you back and awesome link! Shucks that nakedcapitalism is russian hackers tho. I think the ‘41%’ number is ‘the uber fare covers 41% of the cost of the trip’.

        Smoke and mirrors, though. Smoke and mirrors. I wish there were a way to bet that the market cap on Uber should be less than 70 billion. And the cynic in me says that Uber is avoiding an IPO because there are enough people who know the difference between a golden shower and getting pee’d on.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          “I’d bet that sort of thoughtless driver regularly gets on that thing hard while it’s cold and shuts it down hot.”

          This brings to mind the difference between ignorance and stupidity :

          Ignorance is not knowing a thing, no big deal

          _Stupid_ is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results .

          -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      acrossethemiles

      Here’s the deal. And maybe somebody has already stated this but the problem with Uber select is that you will see cars currently on the road from 2008 to 2009 because they were grandfathered in. Uber select once you sign up your grandfather didn’t even though the newer models are supposed to be 2012 and up if you’ve already been driving for a while you’re select car was grandfathered in. I currently drive a 2014 Mercedes and I believe this is why the select usage is not what it should be. Lift on the other hand requires the vehicle to be updated. There is no grandfathering in your vehicle must be 2012 or newer so you will see much nicer Lyft Lux cars than you will uber select… along with less Lyft Lux drivers because they don’t qualify… for Lyft Lux but only qualify for Uber select only again because they were grandfathered in.
      My suggestion is cancel the ride if it’s not 2012 or newer don’t pay double!

    • 0 avatar
      acrossethemiles

      Here’s the deal. And maybe somebody has already stated this but the problem with Uber select is that you will see cars currently on the road from 2008 to 2009 because they were grandfathered in. Uber select once you sign up your grandfathered didn’t even though the newer models are supposed to be 2012 and up if you’ve already been driving for a while you’re select car was grandfathered in. I currently drive a 2014 Mercedes and I believe this is why the select usage is not what it should be. Lyft on the other hand requires the vehicle to be updated. There is no grandfathering in.. your vehicle must be 2012 or newer so you will see much nicer Lyft Lux cars than you will uber select… along with lesser Lyft Lux drivers because they don’t qualify for Lyft Lux but only qualify for Uber select …only again because they were grandfathered in.
      My suggestion is cancel the ride if it’s not 2012 or newer don’t pay double!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’ve only called an Uber once for myself, and I of course picked the cheapest one (in Texas). I got an American man who had me sit in the front of his very clean but old Pilot, and we chatted about Ohio where he used to live (Dayton, AFB).

    My cheap $12 ride was much better than this one you paid a ton to have. Geez. And more evidence that the 5-Series is not particularly built for the long haul anymore.

    Q: If you drive for Uber in an SUV/higher grade car, are you able to accept fares for the lower class, giving those people a free upgrade because you want a fare so badly?

  • avatar
    dwford

    Meanwhile I can drive my spotless Hyundai Sonata Hybrid with leather only for UberX, and actually got a bad survey for being TOO QUIET.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The only time I went above basic Uber was to get from Dulles to downtown Arlington for a conference. This was because it was the fastest way to get someone to pick me up. (It was my first time in the DC area and didn’t realize how much further Dulles was from my destination than Reagan.)

    So for my UBER XL I was greeted by a 2nd Gen Highlander hybrid. A little disappointing given that I have a Highlander at home, I like the chance to sample rides I haven’t been in – even from the backseat. A perfectly pleasant ride and I had a nice conversation with the driver (immigrant from one of those non-violent turban wearing religious sects) about the Virginia state history his middle school child was learning.

    The rest of the trip I went as cheaply as possible and ended up in a parade of Camrys. So ironically all of my rides were in derivatives of the same platform.

    UBER Select? Only if you guarantee me a ride in a W8 Phaeton driven by Jack Baruth himself.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      There wasn’t a W8 Phaeton. There was either the V8 or the W12, here in the ‘States.

      I’d love a Phaeton as an Uber ride; unfortunately they’re all too old to qualify, I think.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      I have access to a Passat W8. Next time you are in DC let me know.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      It would be preferable for commenters to use the airport code “DCA” for what used to be known as Washington National Airport. Ever since the February 1998 renaming bill was signed into law, half the people in DC and its suburbs (where I live) call it National and half call it Reagan, and a neutral name that everyone was happy with has been transformed into something unnecessarily (and deliberately) divisive.

      I make no judgments of PrincipalDan here, whose comments I’ve enjoyed – he may have used “Reagan” because he’s not a local and doesn’t know the controversy that accompanied the renaming – but I would hope that commenters in the future, when they need to mention that airport, can use “DCA” [as, for example, Expedia already does, using “Washington (DCA)” in itineraries] as a term that all can agree on. The EIC noted on 11/20 that TTAC will “eschew partisan rhetoric,” and calling the airport Reagan does indeed constitute partisan rhetoric for at least a portion of the readership.

      • 0 avatar
        oleladycarnut

        Are you being satirical or can I who am not a local call the airport Reagan as half the locals do?

      • 0 avatar
        Whittaker

        I don’t want to offend anyone but the renaming was passed by both chambers and signed by President Clinton.
        I will call it Reagan National.
        And I won’t expect you to refer to JFK as Idlewild.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          They’re making us call Port Columbus (CMH) John Glenn now, in honor of the fellow who did some awesome space stuff before any of us were born and then spent forty years pushing for gun control and 55-mph speed limits.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In other words a real American hero and somebody who should probably have been elected to a higher office than he was? Or at least was more deserving of it than others who managed to ‘dodge’ active service, usually due to their affluence and/or political connections.

            Flew 149 combat missions in 2 different wars. Flew as Ted Williams wing man. Returned home safely from 2 missions with over 250 holes shot in his aircraft. Served as a test pilot completing ‘the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed’. Over 9,000 hours of flying time.

            And I do believe that most of the B&B were born before 1998 when he last did some ‘awesome space stuff’ at the age of 77.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            As a Marine and an astronaut, he has my respect.

            As a Senator, he was an authoritarian police-state scumbag.

            My opinion, for what it’s worth.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I say if you get your head blown off while still in office you can get whatever you want named after you. Others, not so much (although in the case of say John Glenn, I could see a space facility carrying his name).

          • 0 avatar
            walleyeman57

            My dad had a 100 year rule.

            If after 100 years people still remember you fondly, go ahead and name something after them.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            School Board had a 10 year rule. You had to be dead for 10 years before anything could be named after you. They are contemplating changing it to 2 years. :-/ Ay yi yi.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            JB and thanks to people like John Glenn you have a right to state your opinion.

            Of course that might change under the leadership of people who support your anti-government politics and who wish to change the existing libel laws.

        • 0 avatar
          gottacook

          Not being satirical.

          The proponents of the bill – which included “Washington” in the Senate version (which prevailed) but not the House version, although the “Washington” part is rarely used today except at the Metro station – waited until Clinton was at his politically weakest (a few weeks after the Lewinsky scandal first broke) and had no choice but to sign the bill, despite the many good arguments made against it within and outside Congress.

          Here in the DC area, ever since, people who call the airport Reagan are immediately identified as ideological partisans by people who will never call it anything but National, and (probably) vice versa. In the rest of the country, perhaps this doesn’t have the same ideological resonance – sort of like Christmas symbols in public places not necessarily seen as promoting a particular religion under certain circumstances (according to recent U.S. Supreme Court doctrine).

          But for chrysake, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

          And I wouldn’t mind calling JFK Idlewild again.

          • 0 avatar
            Opus

            …remembers when John Glenn (and Alan Shepherd) were doing their “awesome space stuff”. But the only recollection of Idlewild comes from the “Car 54, Where Are You?” theme song.

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged Miata Man

            Honest question: Does their consternation – and yours – stem mostly from Reagan’s political affiliation, or is it primarily because of PATCO?

            The former strikes me as kind of silly – I’m a diehard conservative, yet I don’t think twice about flying into KLIT (well, other than an immature chuckle at that ICAO identifier) – but even I would understand the latter. Putting his name on an airport was a pretty vicious stab at the fired controllers.

            And +1 for the return of Idlewild.

      • 0 avatar
        thats one fast cat

        That was an EXCELLENT Troll! I totally got the joke. Kudos to you for phrasing it in such a way that those who haven’t yet had their morning caffeine wouldn’t catch it.

        And hats off to Whittaker, with the followup ali-oop assist.

        • 0 avatar
          gottacook

          @Middle-Aged Miata Man: The consternation has less to do with Reagan having been a Republican than with
          1) PATCO, as you note
          2) The timing – Speaker Gingrich, Rep. Bob Barr, et al. wanting to kick the Democrats while they were down
          3) Reagan still being alive at the time
          4) Overriding the authority of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority that manages both National and Dulles airports, which was created in 1986; that legislation was, of course, consistent with Reagan’s philosophy of devolving power to local and state governments, but when MWAA protested the renaming, Congress was happy to override it
          5) The involvement of the Reagan Legacy Project (founded 1997) and its repellent originator, Grover Norquist

          See the Congressional Record (February 1998) if you want to hear some of the arguments for and against the renaming. It really was more controversial than many people realize today.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I do think the F10 5-Series feels quite like a vault, although the W212 E-Class feels even more solid, has better switchgear, and is probably more reliable. Anyway, sounds like the driver was more an issue than the car itself.

    Also, BMWs are optioned weird. Multi-contour seats, but no iDrive w/ nav?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      No, the issue seemed to be both the Dro er AND car. It was not quieter, more spacious or nicer than a “standard” car. I know you own a BMW but those were Jack’s comments. Other have commented on a six year old car not holding up well.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I drove a 2012 550i that Carmax had a few months ago. What a disappointment. You’d think a V8 powered BMW would make the car entertaining. You would be wrong.

    Maybe it was the transmission or maybe the soft suspension, but it felt like an average rental car with a bigish engine. I can see why it would be a good Uber ride, but don’t understand why anyone would buy one of those without a sport/adjustable suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      soberD

      Automatic, one-wheel drive, non-sport pkg. BMWs have always sucked.

    • 0 avatar
      NotFast

      I felt the same way about the E350 and E550 I drove last summer. Sure, they were Mercedes but they were not very exciting. The E550 felt SOMEWHAT quicker, but not enough to drop a lot more $$.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      I’m with you. There’s something weird about BMW’s V8 calibrations, their either loaf around like boulevard cruisers, or they hoist the needle up and light up the turbos (or rev really high if they’re n/a like the old *45/*50i). You can’t ever get them give you a nice punch in a sensible gear, it’s either like you’re driving to senior’s day at IHOP or attacking the nuremberg ring. You never get to do something like go from 45-60 mph with minimum drama.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    There’s a million stories out there….

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    My most interesting rideshare experience was in Vegas using Lyft. I get a call shortly after requesting a pickup, and the person addresses me in Russian. Was confused for about 10 seconds as I was trying to figure out what random family friend of my parents’ accidentally called me. It only then hit me that my Armenian driver recognized my name/face as being Russian. Very pleasant guy, spotless and tidy new Sienna LE took me and my fiance off the strip for some very tasty/authentic Ramen.

    Worst rides were in a 2nd gen Sportage that smelled like an ashtray, and a gen 1 Escape that was quite worn out. Have ridden in a few other immaculate late model minivans stocked with water, a WK1 Grand Cherokee (nice lady, truck was in decent enough shape I suppose), and a nice smelling ’10ish Corolla driven by a friendly guy from Togo.

    What little driving I did myself was in my ’12 Civic LX sedan, which was spotlessly clean. I must have been one of the few drivers with a stick shift. If I were to partake in the hobby again (I see it strictly as such), I’d do it in an older Avalon that just made the cutoff (2004 here in Indiana last I checked). Smooth ride and good passenger room, and something I’d enjoy driving when not ferrying people around.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    How much more is the airport limo service?

  • avatar
    brn

    I’ve never used Uber or the other one. I’m not one to defend Uber or the other one.

    However, I suspect this experience was not typical for Uber Select. I also suspect Uber would like to hear about the experience and with enough feedback would downgrade the driver.

    It is a little confusing as Uber’s web page (first time I’ve ever gone there) states that you need high ratings to qualify for Select.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    Most Uber drivers couldn’t navigate their way out of a paper bag without GPS. Too many new drivers who depart immediately after getting their new driver incentive payments, and after realizing that the vehicle operating costs negate the income potential promised by Uber. Anyone who stays longer has done their spreadsheet work, drives a Prius C, and probably can’t get gainful employment elsewhere. And guess what, in five years they’ll be out of work when Uber goes full automated.

  • avatar
    mmo1184

    Long time reader, first time poster. I had to reply to this because I recently took a 5-Series Uberx ride in Houston and was wondering if it was the same car. My 5-Series was pretty beat up as well yet my driver was from Gabon. Uber is a total crap shoot, I took select once as it was the same price as X with surge pricing and got an Explorer Limited. Yet in Cleveland , I had a ride with UberX and it was an Infiniti QX60 and in Pittsburgh, I got a Genesis on UberX…unfortunately I didn’t get a self-driving car.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Am I correct to assume that the Barony in question is bestowed by the Principality of Sealand?

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I’ve never used Uber, but I have considered buying a used C-Max Energi and use it exclusively for Uber. I would keep it very clean. I was thinking that I would do a quick vacuum and spot wipe down every day or so that I drove it. It would have leather since the Energi only comes loaded I believe (SEL trim?).

    I already do car details on the side when my physical issues allow it, so I’m well stocked in car cleaning supplies and skill.

    I would never consider going to pick someone up in a filthy car. If this was a friend, that’s different, but if you’re paying me, I will do everything I could to make it presentable and respectable. And I’d be in the lowest Uber class, lol.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    Law of small sample sizes mixed wth a decision to forego the usual systems in place to avoid this issue.

    I take pretty much all the Uber options at one time or another. Depends on what I’m doing. When I was in New York for the week, UberSUV was needed for the insane amount of luggage my partner had brought. I make the sort of value judgements you do on misery vs money pretty regularly, and will often choose a SELECT or Black car instead of X because they happen to be closer by or whatever. Or if I’m taking a longer ride and would rather not be in the back of a civic for an hour to Pearson airport.

    I’ve regularly had some amazing select experiences – two Model S’s (roomy!), and some really nice higher-end Bimmers/Mercs that made the uberBlack cars look like a crotchety decade old panther by comparison.

    Of course, there’s a fix for this, right? You negatively review the guy for having an unclean car and not having enough space in the back seat. I mean, these are legitimate concerns.

    I’ll wager that you’ve opted not to do this out of pity, but you’re taking a short-term view on a longer-term issue – if no one reports issues, then the service as a whole suffers because the *next* rider also doesn’t like the ride and stops using select, reducing demand, which now causes all select drivers to suffer as a result. Instead, a few bad reviews for the same issue might have caused him to (at least) clean his car up a bit. Wouldn’t solve the space issue but at least a future rider’s bags could have been detritus-free.

    Oh! And in what universe is a Kimpton reservation considered prestigious? Were you staying in Marriot’s or something before? ;)

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      Bummer. I started staying in Kimptoms and I was feeling good about myself.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      When I was racing junior-class pro BMX, I used to split Super 8s with four or five people. I’ve slept in Motel 6 tubs. A regular Marriott was as far away from my lifestyle as that one infinity-pool hotel in Bali.

      Don’t let Bark hear you disrespecting Kimpton. He’s Inner Circle.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah from sharing rooms at the cheapest motel or knights inn to currently staying at Hiltons I feel happy with myself. It’s all about your point of reference really.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I’ve slept on hotel room floors many times but never tried the tub. We once had six people and six BMX bikes in a single room one race weekend. I didn’t bother traveling much for BMX though. I was mostly just a local rider. Most of my high-density hotel rooms were full of snowboards and wet clothing.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Uber Black. Own your own Tuxedo. Learn to tie your bow tie.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    What? No Infinite Uber?

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Do you think this article is going to be enough for Jack to get banned from Uber service? He uses his real name as a pen name, very careless!

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    “Don’t let Bark hear you disrespecting Kimpton. He’s Inner Circle.”

    <3

    Actually I like Kimpton quite a bit. They tend to be quirky and their rewards system is straightforward and reasonable. They're like the hidden gem of the hotel world.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I live in Los Angeles and take Uber / Lyft a lot, usually Uber Pool or Lyft Line. A few weeks ago I was going from the LAX area to the Staples Center. I summoned an Uber Pool, and up rolls a PHAETON. I was floored and so geeked out. HUGE back seat, super comfortable. Lots of rattles, though. I should have bought a Lotto ticket that day…

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Forget the Uber nonsense, I want to hear more about this Barony.

  • avatar
    baggins

    Good piece. Funny.

    I’ve had good luck with my uber rides. Mostly new cars, polite and or quiet drivers.

    Worst experience I had as a rider was a with a car service in Raleigh NC, guy had the uncomfortable combo of driving too fast and not paying much attention.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Hopefully reading this and the comments and enjoying it all immensely doesn’t make me a bigger moron than I already am .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “There is no activity or purchase too ridiculous for me to undertake in the name of perceived prestige.”

    My company makes some driving simulators you should be looking into.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Those sweet simulators that can cost upwards of 50k IIRC, I think it was 50k???? Seemed like 50k was the upper limit? Did you guys have one about three times the price on the website as well if I’m guessing the right one?

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Today I learned, from a car site, that a 2011 BMW 5 series is a knackered old car.

    And there was me briefly feeling good because I was car shopping 2009 Jag XFs.

    Only used Uber once, in London, was picked up in a Skoda Superb, something of the UK spiritual equivalent to a US Crown Victoria – huge space, comfortable, seems to rack up the mileage well as a quick glance at the dials indicated that it was in 6 figures – with the first being a 2.

    Was planning on using it for my next trip to Vegas – last time the taxi from the airport to the casino-hotel beside the airport seemed to entail taking a freeway for half an hour.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I’m waiting for Uber Classic Pimp. I want my driver to show up in a mid-70’s Continental, New Yorker, or Sedan De Ville. Bonus points for a red velour interior.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I thought that after one reaches a certain age and comfort level of success that the pretentiousness fell away. I was wrong.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’ve been on four Uber rides in my life, all UberX. Of the 3 I was conscious enough to remember, one was Camry (a surprisingly clean and correct XV30, no less) and the other two were brand-spanking-new Nissan Altimas. At no point did the drivers ever speak a word except ‘hello’, my name to confirm I was his fare, and ‘good night’. No ride cost more than $15.

  • avatar
    StarAZ

    The one time I requested an UberSelect I got a Lincoln Town car. I was pretty sure the driver also worked for some limo services and was trying to make some extra money on his off time.
    Guess I was luckier than you.

  • avatar
    dude500

    You have to think of UberSelect as a “surge” price to access more cars. I know that Select is marketed as nice cars, but what ends up happening is that in certain markets, there are almost no UberX cars but there are UberSelect cars. I’ll never take UberSelect or Black unless there are no UberX cars.

    LAX airport is a prime example of this – there’s almost no UberX cars there, but there are several UberSelect cars. Still, UberSelect is cheaper than taking a crapcan LAX taxi…

    I’ve ridden in all kinds of cars in an UberX, from a 7 Series to a S-Class to a Q5 to a stretched Lexus; as well as quirky cars like a Altima 6-speed, a GTI and a Kia Soul with a big tip jar in the middle (a no-no). Typically the better cars will do UberX because UberSelect and UberBlack business is slow.

    UberSelect is very much a miss on the car quality front. The most recent UberSelect rides I’ve had were an old Lincoln Town Car and a MKS with obviously worn dampers. But, there were no UberX cars around.

  • avatar

    Uber is a cab service with a smartphone app and limited liability. This is evidenced by most memorable Uber car and driver

    Six months ago when my girlfriend and I went on a cruise, I left my demo in the parking lot of Manheim Tampa and called Uber rather than pay to have not-my-car sit in a Tampa parking garage with lax security.

    My Uber was Idi Amin’s body double driving a battered 2006 Montana SV6 with about SERVICE STABILITRAK miles, give or take.

    80% of Ubers I take are the exact same people who drive cabs but instead of beaten-down CVPIs, you’re riding in a half-beaten-down Elantra.

    Six of one…

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    I use Uber regularly here in LA and when traveling, have actually made friends from meeting people in Uber pool and closed business deals too. Had one get in an accident a few years ago on my bday and they got out with a huge wad of cash to pay off the other driver, probably were doing more than just transporting people.

    My last UberX had the most wild woman…I can’t even begin to share what she was saying she wanted to do to me on here but needless to say I pulled a J. Baruth and took her number.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I understand your desire to sound interesting and racy, but that’s not really what pulling a J. Baruth would be. You both still had pants on at the end of the ride.

  • avatar
    The Gold Tooth

    JB,

    Your confession of a weakness for prestige — credit cards, titles, etc. — was interesting but is perhaps shared to a greater or lesser extent by many.

    The key determinant as to whether one is maximally afflicted by this defect of character (as I would classify it) is the answer to the following question: Do you own a Rolex?

    Suffering as I do from this same weakness, I should confess that in England earlier this year, finding myself unable to resist the savings ($1,300) accruing from the then-recent drop in the value of the pound and from the VAT rebate ($900) for exported goods, I bought myself a rather smart Rolex which, despite being near the lower end of their range, still ended up costing me a little over $4,600. I did this despite having bought not three years ago a $3,200 Nomos watch of astonishing beauty and simplicity.

    I’m in the fortunate position of being able to afford these toys/trinkets/baubles, but I believe at heart I shouldn’t indulge myself so. Still, I now own a Rolex, the purchase of which I’ve resisted for years. Do you?

    • 0 avatar
      yankinwaoz

      The Gold Tooth…
      Sorry to branch off topic here. I wish there was a Private Message feature.

      I’ve had a Nomos on my wish list for a long time. Are you happy with yours? Which one did you get?

      I have to head over to London next month on a biz trip. I totally forgot about the recent XE fluctuations with the GBP. I wonder if I can get a deal?

      I was thinking about flying over to Dresden for a weekend and popping in to the factory. With my luck it would closed on weekends. :-( I think the prices direct from the factory are competitive. Perhaps they would toss in a factory tour!

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I have a few IWCs and a few Omegas. No Rolex.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If Uber really wants to charge a higher price than Uber Black, they should require cars with at least as much room as an Uber Black. In your situation, I would have taken the Town Car. It would have been in the same ratty condition as your BMW, but you would have had a bit of legroom.

    Or maybe you’d get lucky and get the “Town Car” MKX, with acres to stretch out.

    I’m too cheap. It’s UberX or nothing for me. And at least three-quarters of the time in Seattle that means a Prius, which has decent leg room and isn’t a horrible ride. I’ve also recently had a Corolla, a Focus, and an Elantra, all much worse for the passenger than a Prius. Although you would probably have enjoyed trying to chat up the Focus driver.

  • avatar
    quanva

    You had a shitty experience but select does have a place. Every city has different requirements to drive select. Here in Seattle the car must be 2015 or newer.

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