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7 min read

    7 min read

    When it comes to rideshare driving, we all know the only thing that matters is getting a passenger safely from Point A to Point B. But what happens if you just can’t help chatting with a passenger – or get a chatty passenger? Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins shares what drivers should never talk about with passengers while driving below. Do you agree or disagree?

    I love talking to passengers. It helps the time fly by. However, there are some topics that we as drivers—passengers take note, too—that we should avoid at all costs.

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    It’s not that these will always spark uneasy feelings or a low rating, but they are more controversial since everyone has their own opinion or take on things and might not be willing to listen to another’s point of view.

    Never talk about these topics with passengers!

    Just let them rant

    1. Politics

    This of course is at the top of the list, especially during a presidential election season.

    Tensions are already high. People are possibly looking to pick fights if you don’t side with them. Plus, if a passenger straight up asks you “Who are you voting for?” that is just a recipe for disaster!

    Driver George learned this the hard way recently. His passenger, who was already drunk and upset, was on edge when the trip started, but almost right away she asked that loaded question: “Who are you going to vote for?”

    “I’m opinionated, but I keep my opinions to myself… but when somebody wants one of them, I’m happy to share it,” said George. “That is just who I am.”

    So, he answered her truthfully: “I’m voting for President Trump.” Of course, she went on to ask why and he gave his explanations and all of a sudden it went downhill. The passenger insulted George’s status as a driver and worse.

    At that point, George stopped the car and asked her to get out. She refused to leave, so he had to call the police. Once she heard the phone conversation with the police actually happening, she got out of his car and went on her way.

    He also reported the incident to Lyft. They are investigating the incident, and as of publishing time, George had not heard back from Lyft. He’s hoping he doesn’t get deactivated since he didn’t do anything wrong.

    Watch: What to Do When You’ve Been Deactivated By Uber or Lyft

    “I’m happy to engage in a heated political discussion if that’s the way it was going,” said George. “But when she chose to insult my vocation as a Lyft driver, that drew the line.”

    Whether in 2020 or in the future, it’s always wise to avoid talking about politics.

    2. Religion

    This one goes pretty well hand-in-hand with politics. Everyone has their own beliefs and nothing you say during an Uber ride is going to change the other person’s opinion or faith.

    I personally had a passenger about a year and a half ago who would not stop talking about his faith and the proof that is out there that his faith is the only true religion that is Biblically and historically proven.

    I mostly just nodded along because he wouldn’t be steered from the line of discussion, and by the end he gave me a pamphlet so I could consider what we’d talked about further. Okay, I can play that game, and I’m likely never going to see this kid again. I took the pamphlet, dropped him and the rest of my passengers off and went on my merry way.

    But just because it went well for me doesn’t mean I’d encourage it. There are so many religions and faiths out there, and you never know how someone is going to react if you point out that you have different beliefs. In my opinion, it’s just not worth the risk or the headaches.

    3. Sex

    If you are a driver, and you talk about anything sexual, you are asking for trouble. If your passenger brings it up, deflect as quickly and firmly as you can.

    Anything that you say that is sexual in nature could be used against you, and you’ll find yourself without a gig. Even if the passenger starts it, do your best not to engage in the conversation.

    However, if your passengers try to have sex in your car, I’d speak up and tell them that’s against the rules and, quite frankly, very inappropriate.

    I would also add into this, sexual orientation. Regardless of your opinions, rarely does someone bring up sexual orientation casually – they’re usually looking for some kind of opinion, and why get into that in what is usually a very short car ride? As mentioned above, there’s a slim-to-no chance you’re going to change anyone’s mind in 15 minutes or less.

    4. How Annoying Passengers Are

    Do not. Repeat, do NOT start complaining to your current passenger about other passengers you’ve had…unless they specifically ask about your worst experience.

    Why should you avoid this? One reason is because your current passenger may have done something similar to your “bad” passenger and will rate you poorly for your reasoning for not liking what that person did.

    I’ve had drivers before that go off on a tangent about passengers and it did not put the driver in a good light. Just because it’s something you don’t like about your passenger doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to complain to other passengers about it.

    I’ve also seen on Reddit that some drivers cancel on passengers for “not wearing a mask” but they actually were wearing a mask. The driver just decided they didn’t want to drive the passenger for whatever reason.

    If a passenger knows that’s how you handle situations, they will be more likely to rate you poorly in defense of the passenger that didn’t actually do anything wrong. It’s often about solidarity.

    For Passengers: Don’t Ask Us What We’re Tired of Talking About

    Yes, it’s happened to me: some passenger asks “does everyone ask you about X? What do you think about X?” or “I bet you’re tired of being asked X… [asks about X.]”

    For drivers, we get the same questions over and over again. How long have you been driving for Uber? Do you like it? What’s your worst Uber experience? Every passenger seems to think they’re going to get something new, when often the answer is just the same old. And remember: we’re going to try to avoid talking about annoying things passengers have done!

    Lately, the topic of choice has been COVID-19 and the fact that masks are required in vehicles. Everyone’s already heard about COVID and we’re all tired of it. We all know that Uber and Lyft require masks, so just wear it and stop complaining.

    What Can Drivers Talk About?

    After those main topics, the sky is basically the limit. Find a common ground and talk about that. For instance, I’ve had a book in my car before and that prompted a great conversation with a passenger. I had it on hand for when I am sitting in lots or on the side of the road waiting for a ping.

    You can also talk about music. Ask what they like to listen to, and indulge them by switching the radio station or Spotify playlist to suit their preference for that ride.

    There’s also the topic of movies and TV shows that you’re watching or want to watch or watch on an endless loop. At this point, most people have binge-watched an entire season of something, so that’s always a good topic. Even if you don’t enjoy the genre, you can ask about the general plotline and what they found interesting about it.

    There are so many topics to choose from! And yes, while it’s your car and you can talk about anything you want, ask yourself ‘what’s the point?’

    In most cases, it’s a short ride. If someone wants to rant, just let them rant and shake your head when they exit your vehicle. You (and they) aren’t going to change anyone’s mind in 10 minutes, so why get into a battle with them? Just set your money goal for the day and enjoy your day of driving.

    Do you agree or disagree with these topics drivers should avoid talking about? What’s the number one topic you think drivers should avoid talking about?

    -Paula @ RSG

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    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.