“My roommates are going to make so much fun of me,” Camille Z. Coppola ’14 says as she sits down.
It’s a chilly Thursday afternoon, and I’m sitting in Boylston’s Ticknor Lounge with Kirkland House senior Coppola, or, as her friends call her, “Uber Frau.” We’re here to discuss the car-sharing app Uber. After hearing so much from Harvard students about this popular taxi alternative, I’ve managed to find its number one fan.
“I started using Uber when my friend told me about it, in March of last year,” Coppola tells me. “So we’re in our one-year anniversary.”
Coppola is a self-described Uber fanatic. For Coppola, it’s never an inappropriate moment to use Uber. Coming home from Boston at night? Absolutely. Running late to catch a train? Without a doubt. Going to a meeting in the Quad? Why not?
But I want to know the number. “How many times have you used Uber?” I ask.
She takes a breath and pauses. “I don’t want to disclose that information,” she eventually says. “I don’t have the actual number, and even if I did, I don’t know if I’d want to share it.”
“More or less than 100?” I ask.
A pause, and then a grin.
“About 50,” she says.
There’s a hint of pride in her voice. That’s about once a week for as long as she has had the app. In comparison, I’ve probably used Uber about five times, none more embarrassing than the time I got lost before the CS50 Hackathon and ended up taking it one block down from the Kendall Square T stop to the Microsoft Building.
Coppola says she hasn’t always been such an avid Uber user, previously relying more on taxis. On one such taxi ride last year, Coppola was travelling from the Lower East Side in Manhattan to Astoria in Queens, a six-mile journey. Upon arriving, Coppola discovered that her credit card was malfunctioning and that her wallet was empty. 45 minutes later, the situation was finally settled, thanks to two nearby police officers who suggested she take down the taxi driver’s information and mail the cash afterwards.
“I was almost arrested,” Coppola tells me. “I was using Uber before, but it became more frequent after that. It’s super convenient since you can pay through the app.”
For Coppola, an Uber ride is incomplete without interactions with her drivers, whose names and photos appear in the app. Her conversations with the drivers range from small talk about Uber to a story one driver told her about falling asleep in museums. Coppola has even had the same driver multiple times.
“It’s wonderful,” she says, grinning. “I always struggled to find a taxi, and then I discovered Uber. It just comes to you.”
She breaks out in laughter. “This is a ridiculous conversation,” she finally says.
At this point, we’ve really exhausted the topic. How much more is there to say about Uber? I thank her for her time, and we begin to pack up our stuff and walk outside. As we leave Boylston and enter the Square, an Uber black car I called over during the interview is waiting for us.
“South Street and JFK,” I tell the driver as we climb in. The address, right next to Kirkland House, is only a few blocks down. Coppola, undoubtedly, is thrilled.
“That’s actually really convenient,” Coppola tells me. “I was planning to go back to Kirkland anyways.”
Once in the car, I let her talk to the driver. It’s time to learn from the master. “How long have you been working at Uber?” she asks.
“Three months,” the driver replies. “It’s awesome. It’s good.”
“Is this the shortest ride you’ve been on?”
“No,” he says, chuckling. “I drove someone down the block once.”
And then, before we can get another question in, we arrive at Kirkland.