The Only Time I Ever Tipped An Uber Driver

It’s Wednesday evening, and I’m ready to go back to my hotel after finishing dinner with some friends and colleagues. We’re in Puerto Rico for the Women Who Lead annual convention. Stacy, the CEO of the National Speakers Association, suggests we share a Über ride since we are both heading to the same hotel. As we wait on the corner of the street of El Viejo, San Juan, we see a minivan waiting at the red light. The van has, what appears to be bright neon lights shining through all the windows. Stacy and I look at each other; we look at the car; we look at each other again. Stacy finally voices out loud what we’re both thinking, “Do you think that is our Über driver?” Stacy reaches for his iPhone to match the car type on his Über app with the vehicle parked in front of the red light, but by that time the neon-lit minivan is slowly inching its way towards our curb.

A middle-aged Puerto Rican woman lowers her window and greets us; “Buenas noches!” It’s confirmed. The crazy car is our ride.

Stacy climbs in first and I follow, already laughing at the absurdity. The van is very clean. The radio is blasting party music. The driver offers us mints.

There is a lit-up rotating disco ball.

I repeat: A lit-up disco ball is inside the vehicle.

I yell at the woman over the music, “Wow you have a nightclub inside this van.” She laughs and responds loudly. “Of course! You have to have fun!” She looks back and suggests with excitement, “I have karaoke too! Pick a song, any song!”

At first, Stacy and I are reluctant to pick up the microphone and start singing, but this driver’s energy is contagious. Stacy caves and requests a country song. Suddenly, I am singing Karaoke alongside my American friend in a minivan in Puerto Rico.  Stacy and I are jamming and laughing hysterically. We are having the time of our life!

Unfortunately, our hotel is only about 7 minutes away from the restaurant. Just like that, the party is over. Stacy and I were having so much fun, we didn’t want the trip to end. As we pull under the overhang at the front of the hotel, the lady driver lowers the music and exits the vehicle to open our door.

I notice a paper taped just below the A/C vent that says “Tips are welcomed.”

I was always under the impression that you’re not supposed to tip Über drivers. But if anyone deserves a tip, it’s this lady! I open my wallet and happily hand the driver a five-dollar bill. I ask her if she will take a picture with Stacy and me. After all, this has been such an experience. I want to commemorate it.

Any ride should meet certain base level standards.

The car should be clean.

The driver should be polite.

You should be driven to the correct location.

Those standards would have been sufficient.

But this Über driver created an experience for her passengers. In seven minutes she made us laugh, she made us sing, and she gave us a story to retell. Her ride was unique. Her ride was unforgettable.

Two months later, I am still talking about this Über experience. I will bet that if I run into Stacy in five years, one of the first things we will reminisce about is that Über ride we shared in Puerto Rico. We won’t remember a ride that takes us from point A to point B. We won’t remember a service that simply delivers what it promises. What we’ll remember is how something or someone made us feel. We remember the experience.

The magic is in the moment—the experience—the memories created. I may never see that driver again, but she’ll always stay with me because she is a part of my story. Are you connecting with your family and your customers in a meaningful way? Are you a part of their experience – of their story? If you can do that, then you will always be there— even when you’re not.

2 thoughts on “The Only Time I Ever Tipped An Uber Driver

  1. In case you were wondering, you connected with me today in a meaningful way. As a result of this post I now have a post note on myour computer asking myself if I am connecting in a meaningful way today!

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