If you aren’t yet familiar with the concept of Uber Pool, it’s essentially Uber, but you pick up a couple extra passengers along the way who are all headed in the same general direction.
Taking an Uber Pool is always a bit of an adventure. You never EVER want to request Pool when you’re in a hurry because the algorithm can take you loops out of your way and tack an additional 10-30 minutes onto your ride depending on where you’re going and the time of day.
Recently, I experienced one of the more awkward Uber Pool scenarios…
A guy I’d been out with a handful of times asked if I wanted to grab pizza in a hard-to-get-to part of town. I agreed, knowing that if we planned to guzzle wine (which, lets be honest, is generally necessary on early dates) we’d need to call an Uber so neither of us had to get behind the wheel.
He arranged to walk over to my building and call an UberX for both of us to get to the restaurant together. So far, so good.
I met him downstairs where he was waiting with a pained look on his face.
“Hey,” he greeted me. “So, bad news. Uber is surging right now so I called an Uber Pool, you okay with that?”
“Oh, sure,” I agreed gamely, thinking, no big deal, we’ll just have to wait a little longer before we actually eat.
My stomach growled ominously.
The car pulled up a few minutes later, a small Ford Focus with a narrow frame and even less leg room. We tried to hop in the back seat but noticed there was a guy already sitting there. My date shrugged and hopped in the front and I climbed in the back seat next to the stranger.
“Hey what’s up?” the passenger asked me.
“Oh, not much,” I replied, shooting a tight smile in his direction. I pulled out my phone and began tapping between apps hoping he’d get the message that I wasn’t interested in making small talk.
He seemed unfazed. “Where are you guys headed”, he inquired.
My date piped up from the front seat, “Three Mollys!” he exclaimed, “Have you been?”
The guy next to me nodded. “That place is great,” he said. His eyes slid over me.
“Sooo… are you two boyfriend and girlfriend or siblings… or what?” he asked.
Ummmmmmm. Over in the front seat of the Ford, my date’s ears started to turn pink, then red, then nearly fluorescent.
“Gross,” he muttered. “Definitely not siblings.”
Was this Uber Pool stranger expecting us to DTR right here? In this shitty car? Before date #4? I mean, if you want to get technical… no, we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend. But what were we exactly? We weren’t dating exclusively. (Or, at least, I wasn’t.) We were kind of pseudo hooking up in that half-hearted, I-haven’t-found-anyone-better-so-you’ll-do-for-now kind of way, but it certainly wasn’t anything serious enough to constitute a relationship…
Yeah. There was no way I was going to attempt to define whatever THIS was to a stranger in the back of an Uber.
So, I went with the safest response I could think of.
“We’re friends!” I exclaimed, praying that this particular line of questioning would end and our chatty passenger would sense the awkwardness of his inquiries. My date remained annoyingly mute in the front seat.
“Ahhh,” the guy to my right nodded knowingly. “Well in that case,” he shifted his weight towards me in the backseat, “Would you ever want to grab a drink sometime? I’m in a band”.
I choked out a laugh. Oh, a band, you say? Lucky me.
“Well, uh, haha… to be honest, uh, I guess we’re actually more than just, you know, friends,” I finished oh-so-articulately, bobbing my head in the direction of my date who was sitting there like a goddamn slab of concrete. “So…” I smiled weakly, “thanks, but I’m good.”
He cocked an eyebrow and gave me a skeptical look. “You’re sure about that?” He asked, gesturing between me and my date. “Because I’m not sensing a whole lot of chemistry here.”
Oh. Gee. Thanks, person-I’ve-known-for-seventeen-minutes.
At this point, I was ready to open the door in the middle of Connecticut Avenue and hurl myself from the car. 35 miles per hour of asphalt to the face would have been less painful than whatever this was. And where the hell was this guy even headed that was taking so friggin’ long? This city is NOT that big.
Thankfully, before I could muster up a retort to his insulting remark, the vehicle pulled off to the right side of the road and slowed.
“You’ve now reached your destination” Siri chirped from the phone on the dashboard.
Mr. backseat passenger reached into his wallet and pulled out his business card, surreptitiously sliding it across the middle seat in my direction.
“In case you decide you are just friends,” he smirked, before ambling out of the car and up the stone steps to his home.
I quickly palmed the card and tucked it into my pocket. Jeeeeez. I thought, aggressive much?
My date turned around to look at me for the first time in what felt like 37 hours. “Sorry about that,” he said, oblivious to what had just transpired. “That guy was a jerk. I mean, obviously we aren’t siblings,” he sighed. “We don’t even look remotely alike.” He rolled his eyes and settled back into his seat.
With his back turned, I peeked at the card the stranger had passed to me before exiting. Definitely going to toss it. Right? I mean, obviously.
Or… I could hang onto it.
Because let’s be honest. I’m single, nearing the end of my twenties, and can’t really afford to dismiss someone altogether just because they hit on me in an Uber. If anything, that shows dedication! Commitment! The kind of go-getter, no-quit attitude that might translate to excellent life partner material.
I’m doubtful, but it would make for a pretty epic “how-we-met” story.