All hail the wise and all-seeing Uber oracle

THE FIFTH COLUMN

Uber, the taxi service platform, is not just a new model of capitalism. It’s the new Delphic oracle.

It is said that eight out of 10 Uber drivers correctly predicted the results of the recent local government elections. And six comma five of all Uber passengers have found that the romantic advice dispensed by drivers has been exceedingly useful to them.

Myself, I tend to restrict my consultations with the oracle to fairly general concerns. I don’t want to get too personal.

Just the other day, or at least within the past year or so, we were speeding along Upper Beach Road at 2am, my Uber driver and I, when I blurted out the question most searingly urgent in my mind: “Is it acceptable to serve a lapsang souchong at a thé dansant?”

Yes, said the driver, without a split second’s hesitation.

The absolute certainty with which he said it, and the fact that just as he said it we narrowly avoided hitting a car reversing up a one-way without lights, convinced me finally that Uber drivers are, indeed, the new oracles of Tweetland.

I have tested this notion repeatedly myself, over and above closely following any reported utterances of the oracle on the internet and in my phone feed.

I even asked my driver the other day about Uber itself. “What is it?” I asked. (I thought perhaps it was named after that song Nazis sing in movies.)

In a heartbeat, the driver said: “Uber is a new model of capitalism – Ubercapitalism, if you like! It’s the step beyond the Amazon stage, which is in turn a step beyond the retail-space stage. With me so far?”

“Yes,” I said, with a catch in my breath.

“So, the Amazon stage is the stage at which your main cost is warehousing and staff, because you’ve done away with the retail space or you’ve virtualised it. Okay?”

“Yes, yes, don’t stop.”

“With über-capitalism, you have now externalised the cost of the vehicle, the support staff, the switchboard, all that, as well. Got it?”

“Yes, yes,” I said. “Yes.” He said: “That’ll be a hundred bucks.”

But there’s more. Stuck in traffic once on Buitenkant Street (which we never should have taken in the first place, but GPS rules), I fired a volley of questions at my Uber driver, mostly concerning the purpleness of the highest chakra and such things, and you know, he just got it right every time.

“Where do you feel it when your base chakra is disturbed?”

“In my bum.”

“That’s exactly where I feel it!” I screamed, overcome by intense excitement.

He shivered a little, but that’s to be expected when you’re possessed by the god or goddess, even if you don’t know He or She or It is speaking through you.

“Okay, now, gimme some white chakra …”

“The lights –” he began. And then we hit the pole.

Author Shaun de Waal
Shaun De Waal

Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and chief film critic for 15 years. He is now editor-at-large. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction, 25 Years of the Mail & Guardian and Not the Movie of the Week.

Advertisting

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Isabel dos Santos did not loot Angola alone

Once again, Western auditing and consulting firms shamelessly facilitated corruption on an international scale

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...
Advertising

Press Releases

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.