Sometimes, It's Good to be a Follower
No one can deny the explosive manner in which Uber broke into the Egyptian transportation scene. It very swiftly worked its way up from being an interesting idea (greeted with a fair share of skepticism) to a must-have app on all of our smartphones. With such massive success (which naturally involved the hiring of thousands of drivers) combined with our limitless amount of errands, we’re all bound to eventually come across an interesting –for lack of a better word– specimen or two.
Remember those 1000+ character political Facebook posts you used to share between 2011 and 2013 when you thought you were a savvy politician? Yeah those same posts that pop up every once in a while on “Facebook Memories” (or as I like to call them, “Facebook when I was a complete idiot”). Oh don’t feel sorry for yourself, we’ve all been there in varying degrees.
This guy however, is still very much there. He’ll keep sharing his political views and vision for the country’s future for the duration of the entire trip. During said conversations it’s preferable to simply nod along, unless you’re in the mood for the most pointless debate in the history of creation. What is truly marvelous though, is the degree of pride and confidence with which he speaks. These guys aren’t just killing time; they wholeheartedly believe that their magnificent ideas can fix the problems the country has been suffering from for the last 30 years. At some point during the ride, your ears develop some sort of immunity to what’s being said and you start thinking, “Oh Sweet Jesus, what are they feeding you at home?”
Eventually the trip comes to an end; you step out of the car, look up into the sky and thank the Lord this guy is not in a position of power.
From the minute you set foot in the car, these guys find a way to not-so-subtly stir the conversation in one direction and one direction only. They’ll keep talking about their romantic conquests and exploits, some of which you’d think would be quite challenging even for the likes of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, but apparently not for Sayed the Uber driver.
These guys seem to always (*coincidentally* of course) have a girlfriend (or twelve) living in buildings along the way to your destination, no matter which way you’re headed. This guy is more often than not a self-proclaimed international playboy, and his love interests hail from all over the planet. Funnily enough, if he receives an order from a foreigner towards the end of your trip, you’ll usually be asked to take the phone and act as translator. They are also apparently very well-connected when it comes to Cairo’s party scene — they’ll sometimes offer to hook you up with a reservation “fel disco beleil” because you look like a cool guy. That’s just how popular they are, deal with it. As you exit the car, they give you that grin which basically says, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”.
These guys share a lot of traits with their politician counterpart in terms of supreme knowledge and unprecedented intelligence, but the know-it-all’s expertise spreads even beyond the limited confines of politics. Rocket science? Piece of cake! Quantum mechanics? Oh you betcha! Theory of music? Bitch please! So when all these pieces of precious knowledge meet in one brain, you know you’re in for one enlightening ride.
Needless to say, these guys are experts in the fine arts of Egyptian driving and will unfortunately interrupt the lecture to point out the errors of the other ignorant drivers (and in many cases they do point out actual mistakes, but not ones they don’t already make on a regular basis). A ride with Mr. Know-it-all can be a lot of fun if you’re in the mood for non-serious talk and a good laugh, but if you’re sleepy or preoccupied, it’s a dungeon of torment and suffering. Jumping out of the window is the only premature escape, if you can’t tolerate the endless outbreak of useless (and mostly completely false) pieces of information till you reach your final destination.
When hitching a ride with these, the first question they’ll ask you before even attempting to move the car is “3aref el taree2 wala GPS?” and you could see in their eyes the utter dread and terror should you go for the latter. It would seem as though they’ve never handled a smartphone before, let alone navigated their way via GPS.
At this point you have one of two choices. You can either navigate the driver yourself or take the phone, go to GPS and ask him to follow the blue line, but you should still stay alert because we’re talking about a guy who has apparently never used GPS before. In many of these incidents, the driver is from out of town which makes you wonder why would he ever have gone for a job for which he is utterly and completely ill-suited. The annoying part though is when they accept your request but can’t reach your pick up destination despite all your instructions over the phone. At this point, you just keep helplessly watching them going in pointless circles on your app and start thinking of good excuses for being late for whatever appointment you had because buddy, you’re not getting there anytime soon.
These form the mass majority of Uber drivers I’ve come across. They’re nice people who treat you with respect and engage in pleasant conversation if/when invited and will refrain from talking should they feel you are tired or not in the mood. They’re perfectly comfortable with the Uber application, require no intervention from your side to get to your destination and their driving in most cases draws no criticism.
Sometimes, It's Good to be a Follower