Dear Annie: About a month ago, a truck with an attached trailer lost control while on the highway and smashed into my sedan. Luckily, everyone was OK. However, my car is currently in the shop for major repairs. I’m working through some fear of driving, and I didn’t want to pay the insurance on a car I might not use, so I decided to forgo getting a rental. Instead, my insurance is covering the cost of ride-hailing services. My son introduced me to some apps, and I’ve been using them to get to and from work and other places a few days a week.
Most drivers have been very pleasant. However, I am perplexed by the etiquette, and the internet hasn’t been much help. Sometimes the driver will motion for me to sit up front. Sometimes I get no acknowledgment until I’m already climbing in the back of the car. Sometimes I open the front door and there’s a bag in the way, which leads to a shuffle, with the driver trying to move the bag and me trying to get in the back, and I end up feeling nervous. Sometimes the driver is chatty when I’m in no mood to chat; I don’t want to be rude, so I’ll exchange some small talk. Sometimes I’d like to talk but the driver seems to want quiet, so I don’t talk because I don’t want to be rude. My son says this is all normal, but I’m tired of feeling anxious in the cars. Are there ways to show that I’m interested in talking or not? – New to Ride-Hailing
Dear New to Ride-Hailing: In general, opting for the front seat indicates that you’d like to chat, whereas sitting in the back seat says you’d like to be left alone. Either option is fine. If your driver is chatty and you don’t feel like talking, be cordial but keep your responses short and the driver will usually get the hint.
A bag or something else on the passenger seat typically means that the driver would prefer you to sit in the back. But don’t worry if you miss that cue. Really, don’t sweat any of this too much. As long as you’re polite , sober and waiting at the designated pickup location, your driver will be happy.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.