Chicagoans is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week’s Chicagoan is Dan Pittatsis, 70, Uber and Lyft driver.
This isn’t for everyone. You cannot have road rage. You have to be somewhat friendly. I do mints and gum; I do not do water. My charming personality should be enough. I have a BMW with 250,000 miles, and I know where I’m going.
Sometimes if I have a chore to do or an errand to run in Libertyville, I’ll put this thing on and start driving toward Libertyville, and then my wife will send me to Staples or whatever. If I have to go pick up my grandkids in Park Ridge, and I’ll pick up a couple people on the way there, great, it’ll pay for me taking my grandkids to lunch. Do I make enough money to make it worth my while? Sorta.
I think this job would have a completely different vibe to it if you needed it to make ends meet. If you had to do it 55 hours a week, I don’t know. But $1,500 extra a month—that means a better bottle of wine at dinner, that means I can go to Whole Foods and not worry. I’m not rich by any means, but I’m fine. To me, this isn’t even working. I would never, ever under any circumstances work for someone else ever again. I worked my whole life. I’m done.
Once I picked up a woman at the Radisson Blu downtown. She was stunning, and I’m not easily knocked over by that. She looked like a retired supermodel. She had this faint smell of vanilla on her. She goes, “Do you have any time today?” She needed to go to another Radisson in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and she wanted me to wait for her for an hour and a half and drive her back. Either she was a high-end call girl, a drug dealer, or a lawyer. She had a little computer and an overnight bag. When she gave me a $50 tip, that eliminated the lawyer possibility. I said, “Well, if you ever need something like this again . . . ” She looked at me: “Oh, I don’t think so.” That was the oddest one of them all.
I’ve only thrown one person out of my car ever, and it was a guy going from the South Loop to the West Loop. Businessman, kind of nerdy looking, wearing like a cheap sport coat, and his shoes didn’t match. He goes, “I want to go down Roosevelt Road.” I said, “That’s fine, sir. Just so you know, Roosevelt Road is under construction. It’s a mess.” He said, “That’s how I wanna go. Go fuck yourself.” I said, “OK, fine.” So now we’re in total gridlock on Roosevelt Road, and there’s an uneasy silence, and he says to me, “Why did you go this way?” I said, “Well, sir, this is the way you requested me to go.” There’s a five- or six-second pause, and he goes, “You should have known better.” I just pulled over, and I said, “Please, sir, just get out of the vehicle. Don’t make me get out to open the door for you.”
I don’t do Friday and Saturday nights. I’d rather do Saturday and Sunday mornings, where people are going to a farmers’ market, a ballgame, whatever. Rush hour, I’m not a big fan. I don’t need the aggravation. I don’t need the drunks. I want to be the drunk.