I had dinner with a friend last night (at Sartoria on Savile Row, which has just reopened after a refurb job. Good, moody lighting, terrifically jolly wine waiter, veal Milanese the size of a frisbee), and decided to Uber home afterwards. But not just any old Uber. I wanted to give Uber Pool a whirl. For those who are less au fait with the taxi app, this is their new car-sharing service – launched last week in London – which essentially turns an Uber into a tiny bus. You hail an Uber Pool, it swings by to pick you up, but it may contain up to three other people who are going in roughly the same direction.
The idea is you’re supposedly saving the world and $$$ all at the same time. Plus, you could pull. An American called Karley Sciortino apparently wrote last year on her blog, Slutever, that Uber Pool romances had become ‘a thing’ in LA. And if you can find romance in the back of a Toyota Prius which smells faintly of stale tobacco, then well done you.
Anyway, my Uber appeared last night to pick me up with a suited gentleman already in the back of it. PANIC. Do I talk to him? Do I studiously avoid eye contact like you’re supposed to on public transport? Do I shake hands and say how do you do? What a paralysing social minefield.
Or it would have been had I not drank half a bottle of red wine. So we chatted about this and that. He works in finance in the area and he was going back to his flat in Marylebone. I told him I was a journalist and I was sorry about all my bags taking up taxi space, but I was lugging a very big bottle of industrial and highly toxic pipe cleaner for my bathroom. It added all of five minutes to my trip back to West London, and he asked for my business card at the end despite the toxic pipe cleaner thing. Score*.
So, the upshot is that Uber Pool is potentially quite a useful new service on many fronts – especially as it’s December and empty taxis at this time of year seem to disappear into the same void as all my socks and hair ties.
*For all those who worry about the safety issues with Uber, I am obviously making a little joke here. I would still advise that you don’t fall into Uber blind drunk etc etc.