The Yahoo Tech Guide to Ride-Sharing Etiquette

Deb Amlen
Columnist

(Thinkstock)

The sharing economy is alive and thriving, but the question on many people’s minds is this: How does one keep from committing a tragic etiquette faux pas while using, or working for, one of the ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft? We looked to our resident expert, Ms. Buzzetiquette, for answers.

Q: I was stopped at a red light last night when a bunch of drunken Millennials piled into my SUV, demanding to be taken across town. As soon as my heart started beating again and I realized that I wasn’t being carjacked, I politely informed them that I wasn’t their Lyft driver. They loudly continued to insist that I take them where they deserved to go, so I drove them out to a remote, bear-infested national park and left them there. My question is, was it impolite to flip them the bird as I drove away?

A: Not at all. As anyone in the new ride-sharing economy knows, flipping someone the bird is the standard departure signal for incorrect Lyft match-ups, much as fist-bumping is the standard greeting.

Q: I recently Ubered a stretch limo to take me from my Wall Street office to my weekend mansion in the Hamptons and, during the long ride, decided to engage the driver in some small talk. He happened to be one of those adorable immigrants that has made this country great, so I made a point of empathizing with his having to drive a limo to support his family. I did this by regaling him with the story of how difficult it is to keep my own assets liquid enough in this roller-coaster economy to pay my entire household staff. By the time we reached my home, the driver was no longer talking to me. What did I do wrong?

A: This is actually the driver’s faux pas; it is considered rude and unprofessional not to engage the passenger. What he should have done, according to our etiquette guide, was drop you in a remote, bear-infested national park and driven away.

Q: I am the simple proprietor of a modest ride-sharing business and believe wholeheartedly in the American capitalist ideal of supply and demand. I believe in it so much that I have set my fares to go up a teeny, tiny bit in inclement weather to ensure that there are enough cars on the road for people to hire when it’s freezing outside. And you know why I do it? Because I’m a giver. Now I have the New York attorney general on my tail about surge pricing. What should I do?

A: Travis? Is that you? I’m sorry; Ms. Buzzetiquette couldn’t hear you over the clinking of Happy Hour glasses in this bar that I landed at. Got myself a discount from this car with a pink mustache. Totally worth it. Hic.

Q: What is the proper etiquette for selling someone’s property back to her if she leaves it in your car? Other drivers have told me that it is not considered polite to let the passenger beg and plead for their iPhone. I, on the other hand, believe that “possession is nine-tenths of the law” and that I should name the price in the negotiations. What do you say?

A: According to 50 Cent, one of the most influential economic philosophers of our time, the primary method for successfully climbing the socioeconomic ladder in our society is to remain firm in any and all business transactions. Give one careless passenger back her property for free and soon everyone will want her property back for free. That will get you nowhere when it comes to improving your financial lot in life. Of course, your local police department might disagree, but we’re talking about important socioeconomic issues here, not legal procedure.

Q: The last time I hired UberX for a ride, I was picked up, along with a bunch of other passengers, by a frenzied-looking woman in a minivan. Everything was going fine until she picked up yet another passenger, which meant that I had to sit in the middle of the seat over the hump. I also lost my window seat and the armrest, which was, like, totally unfair. The other passengers always get the window seat, and when I merely voiced my opinion, the driver yelled that if we didn’t pipe down, she was going to turn the van around and then we’d find out what was what. I don’t even know what that means. Who was right here?

A: Why quibble about who gets the armrest when you could be taking in the sights and sounds of the world around you as you cruise along in chauffeured comfort? The right thing to do in this case: Enjoy the park.

Is there something weirdly popular on the Internet that you’d like explained? Write to Deb Amlen at buzzologyYT@yahoo.com and let her know. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@debamlen).