All Commentary
Monday, October 6, 2014

The Sharing Economy: Choice, Responsibility, and Hustle

Why I love services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, and you should, too

“I have to work to get my customers; I can’t rely on a dispatcher. I connect with you and we work it out. I have to work harder now, but if I do I get paid more. It is good.”

Rafael picked me up this morning from Grand Central and took me to La Guardia Airport so I could catch a flight. When I got matched with his car in the Uber app, he immediately called me. “Traffic is really backed up over there right now. If you can walk down to between Third and Lex, I can get you on your way much faster,” he suggested. When I got in his car three minutes later, he said, “The radio said a truck broke down on the Queensboro Bridge and traffic is stopped. We can go up to 96th and go over the Triborough. Is that okay?”

My experience with Rafael is the reason I love services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb: hustle. When you remove barriers, whether using technology or through deregulation, individuals can deal directly with each other. This interaction gives us more choice, freedom, and responsibility in serving one another.

Rafael’s service the rest of the trip was great, too. He had today’s New York Post on the seat for me to read, and we had a great conversation after I flipped through it. Come to find out, like me, Rafael loves to cook. His favorite is a Dominican dish called mangu, and he explained to me how to make his family’s version. I can’t wait to try it out when I get back home.

It’s not only the customers who benefit from this individual interaction. Rafael switched to driving with Uber three months ago after driving a yellow cab for a few years. He said he loves Uber. He makes more, sets his own schedule, and has better customers. “The technology allows us to connect directly with you. See how much faster that was than connecting through a dispatch and trying to coordinate? That’s great.”

I’ve used Uber in 5 cities — NYC, Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, and DC — and have heard stories similar to Rafael’s time and again. The more we get the State and entrenched cartels out of the way, the more we will have choice and responsibility. This increased choice and responsibility gives us all the chance to thrive and brings out the best in all of us. As Rafael says, “That’s great.”