David Brady’s phone starts beeping, and it’s off to work.
He will receive an address — which he estimates is only accurate about 85 percent of the time. Once he arrives, at what he hopes is a correct address, Brady will drive around, observing the surrounding pedestrians, looking for tells.
He spots someone on the sidewalk repeatedly looking up and down from their cellphone, seemingly searching for something.
Bingo. Brady has just found his next passenger.
A Winter Garden resident, Brady has been a part-time Uber driver for nine months. During the week he works as a food broker. During the weekend, though, he takes a respite from his professional attire and typical 9-to-5 schedule.
Brady works as an Uber driver for 15 to 20 hours from Friday to Saturday, making around $200 per weekend — minus costs for gas and tolls, which he estimates at around $35 per weekend. He first started working for Uber when his wife lost her job.
She has gotten a new job since then, but Brady kept at his weekend gig because “it gets him out of the house,” he said.
“I do it because I like it,” Brady said. “I don’t really have to do it for the money, but it’s interesting, especially when you’re meeting new people and talking to them.”
The most common destination requests from his passengers, Brady said, are bars and restaurants. Sometimes, though, people will request he transport them for more menial tasks — such as driving them to the bank, for instance.
Other times, Brady said he endures awkward experiences, such as an occasion when some women in their early 20s changed their clothes in the back seat of his car.
One of his favorite memories is a time he picked up someone going on a date.
“I picked up a lady who was probably in her mid-40s, going on her first date in two years, and she was so nervous,” Brady recounted, chuckling. “She hadn’t dated in two years, and her mother even came out to the car and said, ‘You make sure she gets there safe.’ I wanted to tell her to call me to let me know how the date went.”
Despite the money he could potentially make if he worked later at night when people finish partying at clubs and bars, Brady usually doesn’t work past 10 p.m.
While a driver such as Brady has the ability to choose to avoid working after 10 p.m., for Uber riders such as Keisha Latrice, an Ocoee resident, the service’s top selling point is often the ability to use it as transportation to and from bars and clubs.
“I love Uber because I am big on ‘no drinking and driving’ and it's very cost efficient,” Latrice said. “I'd avoid a DUI any day, and the price of an Uber is a heck of a lot cheaper than the price of a DUI.”
Much like Latrice, Brian Homenick, who now lives in Groveland, requests Uber to avoid drunk driving as well. However, he’s had some trouble finding Uber drivers in the Groveland area, which is west of Clermont in Lake County.
“I heard good things about Uber,” Homenick said. “I heard it was cheaper than a cab. I know how it feels for people who are trying to make honest extra money, and I like to support that whenever possible.”
Matt Conrad, a Winter Garden resident, uses Uber primarily for convenience. Conrad goes on business trips often and finds it easier to use an Uber than to summon a taxi cab.
“While the price is usually cheaper than a taxi, knowing exactly when and where your driver will pull up is a major selling point (for Uber),” Conrad said. “I have been on trips where I call a cab, only to be waiting without any real status updates. With Uber, I just look at the map and know exactly where the driver is currently.”
Conrad’s one objection with Uber’s services is the lack of an option to request Uber in advance.
“I dislike that you can’t schedule a vehicle ahead of time,” Conrad said. “However, I understand this will be implemented soon.”
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].