I had a flight to Seattle last week.
I went up to hang out with some friends and finally explore Emerald Town.
So I scheduled a Lyft ride to JFK from my parents house.
And at 6:20am, an indian guy picked me up.
“Fuck”, I thought.
As usual, I enter, and like I assumed, this guy has terrible BO.
And as usual, I tell them his car stinks, and if he doesn’t use deodorant or air fresheners, then customers will rate you badly.
To be nice, I ask him if it’s fine that I open the window.
Even if he says no, I have a planned retort ready…
“since the car stinks, unfortunately I’m going to open the window a little bit…”
“Sure, not a problem”, he said.
I don’t care if it’s winter out.
-This is not a pool ride
-there won’t be others joining
-and I paid for isolation & window freedom #thankuverymuch.
I proceed to open the window to aerate his BO out.
Customers can be a bit** sometimes.
I told him the reason I’m this honest is because I want to help him.
Customers rate drivers for everything and I wanted him to deeply understand that.
They really do find any excuse to give you a bad review.
I would know – I’ve been a part-time Uber driver for the past 3 years.
Which is why I can say to his face with utter confidence he stunk like a musty mofo, and that customers will find any reason to write something negative.
I remember once I picked up a sweaty white guy in the Upper East Side after his workout, and after he got out, the next passenger smelled that previous guy’s BO and associated it with me.
again – facepalm.
That taught me a lesson to have an air freshener and wipes in the car.
translation – if a smelly person EVER came in my car, as soon as they exited, out came my air freshener, and spray spray spray I did!
So I wanted to help him.
Until he did this NEXT thing which made me do a literal facepalm…
Did you seriously not notice what you just did?
While on the Belt parkway, my Indian Lyft driver used his left-turn signal,
but also accidentally turned on his high beams, and he didn’t notice.
Like after a while, he still didn’t notice.
“This guy is a clutz”, I thought.
And as he pulled up to my terminal, still with his headbeams on…
he went into the farthest lane, making me walk more than I should for a 25-minute $29 dollar ride.
But we have a CHOICE to be… Mr. Nicewatch
It was 6:45am, I hadn’t slept the night before, and I was irritable – but I took a few deep breaths and chose God over my Ego.
So I told him about deodorant for his BO, and airfreshener for his smelly clients.
I told him about how he accidentally turned on his highbeam and how that light is really annoying for drivers in front of him.
I told him how he should hoist his phone close to his line of vision, so he’s not dangerously bobbing his head back and down to check his “lap-phone” while swerving everywhere (he swerved 3 times).
I told him when dropping customers off at their terminal, go all the way to their airline terminal and drop them off at the closest, inside lane.
And by “told”, I mean gently, smiling, and giving him time to respond after every feedback (this is what I learned from bosses in the past who were terrible at the “art” of giving feedback.
Within each of those, I also told him why those things matter.
For example, when he hoists his phone, he drives safer, reducing a chance of an accident, and eliminating swerving altogether (he dangerously swerved about 3 times that ride). I told that makes him more responsible and ultimately safer, and customers won’t report your swerving, and they will also feel more relaxed during your ride . This tip also protects me and everyone because if I’m ever driving next to him, Lord knows I don’t want this guy swerving into me because he can’t buy a $5 phone stand to fix the root of the problem.
After all this, his eyes beamed, he said sorry a million times.
I said “don’t worry, it’s cool, you’re learning!”
Because I wanted to help him. I wanted to give him value.
But what I really wanted to show him, was how to overdeliver.
All those tips, while specific to rideshare drivers, was a big-picture perspective about how to overdeliver for your customer.
LESSON 1 – Whether you’re an Uber driver or you work a regular 9-5 job, overdelivering is a MUST. For your customers, clients and every single stakeholder.
How do you overdeliver? Easy – Start caring.
LESSON 2 – THERE IS ALWAYS TIME, EVERY SINGLE DAY, TO BE NICE AND HELP SOMEONE
There are little moments, in YOUR DAY, where you can be nice, go out of your way, and truly help someone.
Add value into their life.
No one may ever see it, the press may never be there, but you’ll know.
On my return trip from Seattle, I had another Indian Lyft driver, this time a 22yr-old kid studying finance at Baruch.
He said he would like to work at a hedge fund after he graduated but told me defeatedly, “I probably won’t get it because you need a lot of experience.”
When I see this limited mindset now, it literally hits my brain like a red brick.
I told him that was utter bullshit and that he’s already defeated himself in his own mind.
And that he COULD get into a hedge fund if he wanted to and that it WAS possible. Anything is possible.
It was 1am, again I hadn’t slept on the flight, but I gave him my card and told him to contact me after he graduates if he needs help. “Networking is crucial”, I told him.
There is always time, every day, to go be nice and help people. Even if it’s a smelly Indian taxi guy.
But don’t confuse being nice by telling them nice things. That helps no one.
Tell them what they need to fucking hear #albertisreal
P.S. Yes, I tipped both of the drivers. Tipping a driver is NO DIFFERENT that tipping a waiter/waitress at a restaurant. After taxes, rideshare service fees, gas, car maintenance, and those little gums, candies and poland spring bottles, most uber and lyft drivers barely make above minimum wage.
P.P.S. TIP YOUR UBER, LYFT, JUNO AND VIA DRIVERS.
Even a $1 tip is magnificent for that driver. Do the right thing.
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