What Is It With These Damned Ratings?

In the swirling cesspool of Los Angeles, a land teetering on the fulcrum of dreams and despair, there exists an addiction as raw and visceral as any opiate. This isn’t the pull of Hollywood’s silver screen or the magnetic lure of Malibu’s surf. No, this is the digital heroin of our time: rideshare ratings.

Driving through the cavernous belly of LA, past the pulsating heart of the Hollywood Bowl and the neon veins of the Sunset Strip, I’ve felt the beast claw at me – the hunger to see that five-star glory. As every ride concludes, anxiety dances on my nerves, like Hendrix on a Fender, waiting for that inevitable ping. Did they revel in my chatter? Was my taste in West Coast hip-hop a reflection of their soul? Or did they peg me as just another burned-out loon cruising the 405? And how about that damned tip you promised in the app?

The complaint button – a Pandora’s box in app form, the doorway to a realm of whims, whines, and sometimes warranted woes. It tempts, it tantalizes, and despite knowing better, my finger gravitates, hungry to uncover the latest absurdity from the backseat brigade looking for a ride credit from the Uber complaint department.

The pursuit of that gleaming five-star nirvana is relentless. And in a city where the Griffith Observatory watches silently and the Venice Boardwalk offers daily shows of eccentricity, one has to rise above the humdrum. Whether it’s gifting hydration in the guise of a bottle, ensuring the AC’s kiss is Arctic cool during LA’s searing summers, making quips to shatter any iciness, or dodging LA’s notorious traffic by snaking through lesser-known byways – I’ve played every damn card.

But in the haze of this relentless chase, the blinding truth dawns: these stars aren’t worth their weight in Hollywood gold. Their shimmer might dictate the frequency of my rides or even hover like the sword of Damocles over my Uber career. But hell, they’re merely pixels on a screen, not badges of honor I can flaunt at the Whisky a Go Go or spend on a street taco or two.

What’s truly at stake is the tangible. The atmosphere I craft inside this four-wheeled hybrid cocoon. Do my passengers feel cradled from LA’s chaos? Do they detect a flicker of joy in our brief journey, a detour from their routine? Are they more than just a ticking meter to me, entranced by TikTok in my back seat?

Being an Uber jockey isn’t about the relentless chase for digital approval. It’s about etching memories on asphalt and souls. While I might sometimes rue the ratings’ tyranny, the challenge is intoxicating.

So, to my fellow charioteers navigating LA’s sprawling expanse, fixate on those stars if you must. But remember, in the grand theater of ridesharing, it’s the encore of genuine experiences that truly matter. Chase that, and those gleaming ratings will follow.

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