The Mind Games You Play in an uberPOOL Ride

Humour

The Mind Games You Play in an uberPOOL Ride

Illustration: Akshita Monga

I

n the last one month, I have taken over 50 uberPOOL rides. That’s more than the number of times I’ve called my boyfriend, or eaten meals that didn’t comprise junk food. It also means that I’ve shared a ride with at least 100 strangers. Strangers, who I have at times merely glanced at, and at other times, fervently wished would have never crossed paths with my cab. But, at all times, I’ve competitively strategised to outwit them in the game of “Do You Think You’re Going To Get Dropped First?

The uberPOOL ride always starts off casually, with an ineffective prayer: “May I be the only person taking this ride on this route.” The tension starts simmering a few minutes later, when your almost-perfect reality crashes in front of your eyes, as the driver’s phone blares with the announcement of a new rider. You ease in, confident that the fellow passenger won’t be much of a hassle. “It’s just a delay of five minutes, no biggie,” you repeat to yourself. Except those five minutes turn into 20. By the time he’s inside, it’s almost as if he’s an intruder.

At that very minute comes an itching need to desperately find out who’s getting dropped first so that the manipulation games can begin. Except no one wants to make the first move and question the other. So, you zero in on the unsuspecting driver, and throw a volley of questions at his confused face about the route he’s going to take. Then you engage him in some small talk with him and try to discern, “Which passenger does he like the most?”

An uberPOOL ride is then the modern breeding ground of the death of all civilised behaviour, and a fight for the Survival Of the Shrewdest.

Once you’re made aware of the first drop, you start negotiations. Sometimes, it’s a thinly veiled threat. At other times, it’s a scary request, but most of the times, it’s trickery. Sharing a ride essentially becomes a game unfairly tilted toward the most geographically proficient. The trick is to confuse the driver, and your passenger by letting them trust you with shortcuts. An uberPOOL ride is then the modern breeding ground of the death of all civilised behaviour, and a fight for the Survival Of the Shrewdest.

On some days you win, on most you lose, and yet on none of those days, you, as a self-respecting millennial, choose the saner way out, and just take a fucking a kaali-peeli or hop onto a bus. No you’d rather depend on an app that chooses to pick a random uncle misguiding the driver, delaying your impending journey. Like any dignified individual, you do not believe in running away at the first sight of a co-rider fighting with the driver, insisting it’s his fundamental right to be dropped first because he is a couple of years older than you.

Today, I took the uberPOOL ride to get to my lunch reservation. In what is considered a rare feat in the history of these rides, I actually managed to reach on time. Mostly because I didn’t have to share the ride with anyone else. Instead of feeling proud at my achievement, I felt cheated at the lack of any mind games.

If that’s not a premise for a modern horror story, I don’t know what is.

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