Small Talk And Uber
I am a huge fan and a big consumer of Uber, the car and driver hire service. If you don’t have Uber in your city, I really hope it gets there soon. My experience has been universally positive since I started using the service last August. Uber has made my life without personal transportation in South Florida completely possible. The cell phone app works very well and the costs are modest for me. That being said, surge pricing can make things more expensive. The rating system of drivers and riders is phenomenal.
I’m motivated to write about Uber because the company is threatening to pull out of Broward County over proposed measures that would effectively force Uber out of the county, as the company has threatened. I really don’t want that to happen because I think I’ll be using Uber for years to come.
Politics aside, Uber is a great social opportunity. Chatting with the driver is a great time to flex your social skills. It’s purely idle chit chat, small talk at its smallest. There is no agenda except to be friendly. Here in South Florida, the Uber drivers are a very eclectic bunch representing many cultures and ages. Indeed, I’ve had several female Uber drivers. The woman from Bengladesh I’ve had drive me several times. Her brother-in-law is also an Uber driver and he’s driven me, as well.
I always attempt to verbally engage the Uber driver. Sometimes it’s challenging because of accents and language issues but I really make a serious effort. Talking to people from other cultures and who’s native language is not English is a great conversational challenge. I’ve got a standard opening for Uber drivers, “So, how is Uber working for you?” The answer is always polite but it’s a great opening question. Showing interest in another person, even a complete stranger, is a very charismatic social skill. People love to talk about themselves and the stories from all these Uber drivers has been riveting for me.
I know a lot of guys bitch and moan about “small talk” and how they loathe it. That attitude gets neither pity nor understanding from me. Small talk is the both the social glue and social lubrication that keep us human and not degenerating into savagery. Small talk is what gets people talking. Small talk is how men can approach women without being a blowhard. Small talk is a phenomenal opportunity to be witty and charismatic. And with an Uber ride (always sit up front), there’s a fully functioning adult right next to you who probably wants some small talk, too.