My Uber driver mask incident

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Well, yesterday I encountered my first Uber mask “situation”.

Uber forces everyone to wear masks

Uber has a policy requiring all drivers and passengers to wear masks, with a few exceptions.


I haven’t had a lot of first hand experience with this so far. During the first six months of the pandemic, I used a rideshare app twice – just to get to and from the airport for my only international trip. Both rides went off without incident.However, since arriving in Germany I use Uber a bit more to get around and my experiences up to this weekend have been good – the drivers were not only wearing masks, but there was a plastic shield between the first and last row. Between that and opening the windows, you feel safe enough.

And then I did my tour yesterday.

My Uber driver was angry about wearing a mask

Yesterday afternoon, Ford and I got into an Uber in Berlin. It was raining so it was not possible to open the windows, and it was also the first Uber I had been in since arriving in Germany where there was no plastic shield between the first and the second row (I’m not sure if this is a policy one way or another, or just what the drivers are doing).

I sat down immediately behind the driver, while Ford sat next to me. When we got into the Uber, I saw that the driver had put on his mask… and 10 seconds after our arrival, he took it off. I couldn’t see it directly, but Ford was texting me instead.

About a minute after starting the ride the guy said (in German) “is everything okay?”

Ford politely said “Could you please put on your mask?” ”

He huffed and replied “Why, you think I have corona?” ”

At that point, I explained to him that we don’t know who has coronavirus, and that it’s all about taking precautions, and that Uber is forcing drivers and passengers to wear masks.

While he then put on the mask:

  • He spent 30 seconds declaiming the masks and how uncomfortable they are to wear, and how he can’t believe we think he has coronavirus
  • He started driving much more aggressively, accelerating quickly, going fast around corners, etc.

Considering Uber’s instant feedback loop, I’m not sure why he was so argumentative about it. If he had just put on the mask, I probably wouldn’t have reported it or given it a bad review. But because he was so rude about it, I ended up giving him a star and flagging him for not wearing the mask.

For what it’s worth, he was the lowest rated Uber driver we’ve had in a long time (4.6 stars), so I guess that’s not as surprising.

At the end of the line

Apparently, asking someone to wear a mask in accordance with company policy is now tantamount to accusing them of having coronavirus. To be clear, for me, it’s not about whether you are pro-mask or anti-mask.

It’s pretty straightforward – Uber promises drivers will wear masks, with a few exceptions. He put on the mask when we got into the car to indicate he was wearing a mask, then took it off seconds later. And then he tried to fight back when confronted with it, and I’m not sure what exactly he was trying to accomplish with that …

If you used a rideshare app during the pandemic, have you had any mask incidents? How did they go?



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