Since having some hardware from Bunnings inserted into his knee, W&D has had to rely on both Mrs W&D and Uber to get to and from the salt mine. A walk to the tram stop is not possible pro tem.
Whilst not suggesting for a moment that travelling with Mrs W&D is not interesting, there is little doubt that Uber drivers open up a whole new world of conversations. Not to mention the prompt service, ease of payment and trip- and driver-tracking.
Without exception, all drivers (and N > 30) said that they enjoyed driving for Uber. The income was good and the operational flexibility the biggest benefit. The three that were former taxi drivers said that the remuneration was higher than driving taxis. In each case, W&D conversational questioning was careful to ensure that the costs of vehicle ownership by Uber drivers were considered in assessing profitability.
One full-time driver said that he cleared $1,500 for a 40-hour week (after all running costs).
But the bigger interest was in the 'stories' of the drivers. Many were from India, some Pakistan, some China, a smattering from Eastern Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya), Persia (not Iran) and two Australian-born.
Most worked part-time; with either study or another part-time job taking up the rest of the time. The non-Australian born were all in high praise of Australia (this in spite of all of our whingeing, refer the recent election campaign) and if not having permanent resident status were in the process of obtaining it.
The stories of their families, homes and backgrounds were, without exception, rich portraits. For example, this mornings' driver was from Pakistan. His uncle is Zaheeer Abbas, the former champion test cricketer and current President of the ICC.
W&D was impressed with all the drivers' work ethic, happiness at being in Australia, and their optimism.
And the standout story was from the Persian, who fled Iran because of faith-persecution. This driver said that the young generation of Iran was well educated and hated the ruling mullahs. They didn't like being forced to be hard-line Muslims, and saw themselves as Persian first. It was inevitable that the moderates would come to power.
We shall see.