- Anwaar Malik is an Uber, Lyft and taxi driver in New York.
- He only works the night shift to avoid angry runners rushing to work.
- This is the story of Malik, told to writer Jamie Killin.
This narrated essay is based on a conversation with Anwaar Malik, a taxi driver, Uber and Lyft based in New York. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m an Uber, Lyft and taxi driver in New York. I used to drive night and day but now I stick to night due to the bad traffic in the city and the types of daytime passengers I used to get.
I have a long commute, and it takes about two hours to get to New York in traffic. Around 7 p.m. the traffic clears up, and that’s when I start heading into town for work. I ride until 3 or 4 in the morning before going home. There is no traffic on the way back at this time which is good.
I also always worked the night shift, no matter what job I was doing. It’s just easier for me.
The money is the same, but it’s much easier to drive at night
Customers during the day want to rush to work or rush home once they get off, especially early in the week when they don’t want to go to work.
When I was driving in the morning, I felt like my passengers were always mad at me about things that weren’t my fault, like the traffic. They were rushing me and wanted me to speed up. I did my best, but I’m not going to get a ticket or break the law.
At night, I’ve found that most of my passengers head to a restaurant or something, and they’re more relaxed.
There is usually not as much rush
Sometimes people leave work, so they’re still frustrated, but I try to stay as calm as possible and give them a really good ride. I provide them with water and whatever else they need because maybe they had a long day. Since 2019, my grade has gone up to 4.96, so obviously I’m doing something right.
However, even if I do everything right, the driver may have had a bad day at work. Sometimes anger comes down on the driver, which sucks.
I’ve had situations where I’m providing a route and there’s so much traffic that I can’t keep the three-second distance to the car in front of me, and I’m going to go over a pothole. The rider might be doing something like typing and just because we drove over a pothole and their typing was disrupted they will report something as small as that to Uber . They might say the driver was dangerous or bad overall.
Just because we’re pro riders doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes
As drivers, we have to worry about many different things – driving safely, avoiding potholes or passengers accidentally damaging our cars. If there’s a rider in the back, he might have a gun or a knife. If you keep the doors locked, the biker will think the driver is trying to kidnap them.
We also need to make quick decisions in cases where the cyclist is about to open the door and a bike is coming. You have to shout not to open the door. If we speak softly, they don’t hear us, that’s how you save a cyclist from getting hurt. But then the passenger thinks you’re yelling at him.
To ensure my safety, I have a camera in my vehicle
Before, I had a partition, but when I had it, runners complained that the air conditioning did not reach them.
I also avoid angry runners. I usually try to take charge of every ride, but if anyone seems upset before they even get in the car, I’ll leave. When I arrive to pick someone up, I keep my car doors locked until I’m able to roll my window down a bit and ask for the passenger’s name. This is for my safety and their safety. But, out of 100 runners, I’ll have 5-10 people who get mad when I do that and start yelling swear words.
When a passenger does something like this, Uber simply says that they will no longer match that passenger to you. But if a driver did that, it would impact our livelihoods. It’s a win-lose situation, like many jobs – if there’s a problem, customers and businesses usually win while workers lose.