Harry here. I always like having guest posts from people whose driving experiences are different from mine, whether they’re in a small town or avoiding scary passengers. Today, April Mench from Las Vegas gives us her perspective on driving in Las Vegas as a female rideshare driver. Have an experience we haven’t covered? Pitch me your article idea and we may feature it here!
“Aren’t you afraid of driving strangers in your car?”
“You’re our first lady driver EVER!”
“You obviously go home before it gets late enough for all the drunks!”
As a rideshare driver who happens to be a woman, these are the things I hear on a daily basis when passengers get in my car. No one would ever guess that on weekend nights, long after Cinderella and most other drivers are snuggled home in their beds, I make my way up and down the most saturated stretch of Sin City, hauling late night revelers this way and that until the wee hours of the morning.
It’s no secret that the rideshare circuit is a male-dominated field, and in a town where strip club and massage parlor kick-backs are big money, it can be easy to feel that being a woman is an extra disadvantage. Rare is the man who doesn’t feel awkward asking his female driver where to go for the best boobs in town.
However, I’m here to tell you why, despite all that, I think being a woman driver in one of the most famously booze-soaked cities in the world actually works to my advantage.
Getting Started in Vegas
When I moved to Vegas a few years ago from the NYC metro, I thought that after 15 years of serving alcohol in one of the biggest cities in the world, surely I’d get something in Vegas’ hospitality-heavy job market in a snap.
It turns out being a newcomer in Vegas isn’t as easy as I’d thought, and I ended up in what would be one of the most dreadful job situations of my life. When I was let go after a year, I didn’t even want to know why. I was just so happy it was over. That’s when I turned to rideshare driving and signed up for Uber.
I started easy around suburban areas of town. I wanted to get the hang of things, and there was no way I was going down to the Strip with its high volume and super strict pick-up locations without being comfortable. The locals I picked up were so friendly and encouraging. I found myself starting to regain some of the confidence I had lost over the past year. The earnings, however, were lackluster, and I knew if I ever wanted make any real money, to the Strip I’d have to go.
Day Driving in Las Vegas
Driving around the Strip and downtown Las Vegas during daylight hours is pretty unremarkable. Most people don’t realize it, but we are a serious convention town, so during the week you’re mostly taking around lots of business people who are usually either on important phone calls or strategizing with their ride companions.
Weekends in Las Vegas are usually international tourists on epic shopping trips and older groups who are past the age of needing all day to recover from their hangovers. 95% of my experience with these riders is positive. I get to meet people from all over the world who are generally pretty nice and, given the current state of politics, talking to people from all walks of life throughout the day is a powerful reminder that we’re more than our political ideals.
I still wasn’t making great cash though.
One day I picked up an extremely chatty overnight reservationist from one of the gentleman’s clubs. She told me she had it on good authority that overnights were the best time to drive and that, without fail, all of her 4 am rides home were high surge pricing. After a few more weeks of lackluster profit I knew, if I wanted to make any real cash, I was going to have to drive the overnights and take what was mine.
Night Driving in Las Vegas
On my first night out past midnight, not much happened – at first. I started to think, maybe it’s just hype, but then around 1 am that magical spread of red and pinks (surge pricing!) began to creep across my screen. It didn’t stop until morning. During these magical hours, the night is basically one big adventure consisting of two types of people: drunks and the people who service them.
Strategies for Handling Drunk People
The drunks in this town are a fun flavor. They generally travel in packs and are being picked up and dropped off in heavily populated areas. This is a big positive in the safety department. I’m not generally dropping off sketchy loners on quiet streets, but when those types of situations arise it’s good to remember:
- You are navigating a one ton piece of metal hurtling through space.
- You have more control over this passenger’s life right now than they have over yours.
- No one can try anything with you without risking their own life.
- You are the boss.
- No matter how deep into a bottle of tequila people are, they inherently seem to know this.
Now for the most difficult part: actually finding these people and getting them into the car. In this town, you’re dealing with drunks in unfamiliar surroundings who need to be in specific pick-up locations (I bet our late night cancellation rate is higher than any other market). This is where girl power can really pay off.
A textbook drunk is essentially an overgrown toddler. Being able to take a stern maternal tone while also utilizing pet names associated with diner waitresses named Marge is something a male could never pull off without seeming overbearing or creepy. For me, it gets positive results in both getting people where they need to go safely and keeping my night moving.
It generally begins with a phone call to confirm their location: “OK, I’m coming now. I need EVERYBODY to get in the correct spot and stay there because I can’t drive around town looking for you.”
Then comes wrangling them in the car: “OK everyone time to go! Hustle in and buckle up cause this bus is leaving!” and, “Sweetie, I need you to peel your friend off those girls because Denny’s is waiting for you guys and I don’t think that’s going to happen for him tonight” and “Honey, do you feel like you might need to puke?”
At this point I will usually put my barf bucket (or barf bag) right into their hands and tell them I need for them to hang on to it “just in case”. Then I will instruct the friends to be on puke patrol because if we get vomit in the car, I won’t be able to help anyone else get home that night. Everyone always seems to take this remark quite seriously.
Once we’re loaded in, if there are any ruffled feathers, they are quickly forgotten when people realize that I HAVE A CANDY DISH! It’s just like Grandma’s house! What no one knows is that those mints are for MY benefit. Drunk people REEK, especially in the land of smoke-filled casino floors. Without those candies, I might asphyxiate flying down the I-15 on the toxic fumes of bourbon breath and broken dreams (the house always wins, my friends).
When I deliver my lushes safely to their destination, I remind them to be safe and to please drink a bunch of water before passing out. If any one asks me to come in for a drink or to hang out with them I say breezily, “oh, I gotta work for a few more hours, but I’ll call you when I’m done.”
People have NO IDEA that the apps do not reveal anyone’s real phone numbers, so I don’t have to worry about being called back (if the drunk people even remember what I said to them!)
One of the best parts of being a rideshare driver in Las Vegas is that, even though I have yelled at them, made them cling to a barf receptacle and made a fake promise, they thank me for taking such good care of them. They often shove anywhere from $5-$10 in my hand as they stumble on their way.
Compared to standing behind a bar cutting people off and arguing with them about the size of their bar tabs, rideshare driving in Vegas is a piece of cake.
Readers, do you have more questions about driving (or being a passenger) in Las Vegas? If you’re a Vegas driver, do you have more tips for other drivers out there?
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Bio: After moving to Las Vegas in 2015, April began rideshare driving and now blogs about her experiences, as well as what to do, eat, and see in Vegas, at www.beyondthelights.vegas.