So Uber is coming under fire, especially in London, where it’s in imminent danger of losing its ability to operate. I am a latecomer to the Uber party, but here’s the thing, I love it.
It’s so quick and easy and there are no quibbles about the price. The drivers are there within a few minutes, none of this booking ahead. The cars are clean, and drivers friendly. I was even offered a wet wipe and an iPhone charger. What more could you want?
That said, I do love a taxi driver who knows his or her way through the back streets and has interesting stories to tell about this, that and the other. I love that when I am on a long drive, but not when I am in dire need of a quick taxi and there isn’t one for 20 minutes, or when I phone for a cab and no one answers for 60 rings, or when we’re stuck in traffic and the price is ticking up and up and up.
And yes, I know taxi drivers need paying for their time, but society is changing. We pay hairdressers a price for the component parts of a salon booking – cut, colour, blow dry – not for how long it takes when they have to detangle our barnets. We pay restaurants for the meal and drinks, and the service, but not how long we sit in their chairs.
It is such a tricky one and it feels as if Uber has tapped into that. Customers are paying for the car, the driving, the miles, but not how long they sit there for. And that’s really in-line with other businesses.
I understand that businesses like Uber are called ‘disruptive’. They utilise technology to turn the world on its head. We’ve witnessed it with music, with TV, so many facets of our lives, and now it’s unfortunate for the traditional taxi model, but actually, Uber is hugely popular with customers.
And while there will no doubt be taxi drivers fired up about Uber practices, the bottom line is that the company will get around its troubles, will do the standard checks it need to operate.
It may take a little while, but I have no doubt that it’ll happen. Like so many other businesses before, technology is changing everything.
I hope established taxi firms can find a new way of competing, can keep their businesses alive in this climate. But, with sat navs stealing the need for insane directional knowledge, and apps stealing the need for long waits, I am not sure how this will work out.
THE TIP OF THE DISGUSTING FATBERG
How disgusting to read last week that there’s yet another giant fatberg lurking in the sewers of London.
There it sits, collecting bits of peoples’ drains, helped along by things like wet wipes, sanitary towels, nappies and other items which shouldn’t be popped down the loo and then covered in a delicious coating of fat – I assume from cooking leftovers.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of fatbergs, look them up online. They’re very simple, similar in structure to icebergs, but made of fat.
But the gross element is this – the Museum of London is looking at ways to preserve bits of the berg and make it into a display. And if the thought of public display is not enough to stop you chucking unacceptable things into your drains, I don’t know what will.
THE WRONG SORT OF HIGH ON ENGLAND’S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN
What would you do if you were a mountain rescue volunteer and had to give up your time to rescue four people who were high as kites?
Seemingly the men had climbed Scafell Pike and then got high – rendering them unable to walk down again.
How irate would you be? I’m going to go with ‘very’. But it’s a tricky one.
How do we judge stupidity against stupidity? Not climbing a mountain with the right equipment (like the chap in Superman shorts who went up Snowdon recently and got hypothermia) is arguably in the same league – both ended up in a mess as they incapacitated themselves through poor thinking.
It’s a timely reminder that not just the Scouts need to be prepared.