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The Fault in our Stars

It started out quite normally - the Uber Pool ride. I was first to get on the car and I offered the expected pleasantries.

"Good evening po," I said. "Good evening sir," he greeted back. 

It's in the good human being code - to be nice and polite to everyone and to not be a burden to anyone. But if you're an Uber rider, you go the extra mile for the stars. Five stars, no less. A couple of fours would drag your rating down, and some threes could easily relegate you to the circle of the riders from hell who deserve being ignored, rejected or cancelled.
We drove to the next passenger. She was just two blocks away so I was confident I could show the way. His Waze is wonky, he said. After picking up rider 2, the driver became chatty. Thankfully, rider 2 did not have problems with small talks. I left the small taking to her and I swiped and tapped on my phone in peace.

His Waze really was wonky. The marker was in the wrong street, and the female Waze voice was saying instructions that could lead us to committing traffic violations and getting into accidents. I offered to use mine, cause that's what five-star riders too. Rider 2 knows the way, so she also volunteered to just replace Waze girl. Let's go. Drive safely.

He was driving really slow.

Bu driver was really chatty. He annotated every turn. He explained every beep in his Uber phone. He complained of the traffic, of his Uber partner who hasn't sent him prepaid load yet, of his gas funds and his tank's lack of gas. He asked to be directed to the gas station. Rider 2 knew a nearby gas station. She was out-starring me.

More small talks with driver. At this point, I zoned out. There goes my five stars. Rider 2 already got off and it was just him and me now. Can I buy food from the sari-sari store, he asked. Of course, who am I to deny him of food (and I was still thinking of the stars). He went back with crackers. Can you hand me that water bottle, he asked? Yes, I said, smiling as I stretched out my arm with an empty mineral water container. He went back to the store to ask for water.

And he was back on the wheel. We were still not moving. He was reading his maps, and accepting more passengers beeping noisily in his Uber app. We were still moving very slow. He asked me if I lived in my marked destination. I said I'm going to Hemady Square to meet people in a restaurant. You must be hungry now, he said. In my mind, I said "Of course, we've been on the road for about an hour now" but I just smiled. For the stars.

He kept on talking. I zoned out again. He noticed I wasn't so responsive anymore. "Gutom na si Sir," he said, because he probably noticed my hunger-crankiness. I forced a smile and politely said, "inaantok lang po." At this point, my stars are already falling one by one. We were still moving very slowly. We picked up two more passengers along the way. They said their good evenings to each other.

I was already so restless - feeling I couldn't make it to the dinner. Driver asked me questions again - Who am I eating with? What is the dinner for. I felt i didn't have to answer those but I have stars to earn.

Finally we reached E. Rodriguez. "Dito na lang po," I said and Waze girl acknowledged that I have reached my destination. He stopped in front of Fahrenheit, beside a spa with a big lighted sign that offered massage. "Magpapamasahe kayo," driver asked. I smiled. "Hindi po, kakain po."

Oh the things we do for stars. Even if we are close to snapping, we still put out our best self and display our best behavior. All for the five-star rating.

It's just like kindergarten all over again.