Ethics Quiz: The Uber Driver’s Sign

This is one of those ethics quizzes where I am seeking reactions that might make me question my own. My response to Mr. Vasudevan’s tweet was reflexive: Please do wear that sign around your neck, so everyone is warned that you’re an offense-seeking, paranoid jerk to be avoided at all costs.

Back before the CDC wrecked by business and crippled my livelihood, I was often in taxicabs, and my employing some version of the “Where are you from?” question led to many of the most enlightening and fascinating conversations I have ever had. I never encountered a driver who seemed to resent the question in any way; usually they were pleased by my interest, and they always had amazing stories to tell.

I get asked the question myself in our neighborhood when I am walking Spuds in my Red Sox hat or Boston jacket. I don’t see those markers as different from an accent or a turban. The question shows that the inquirer is interested in me: thanks! When I hear a Greek or Russian accent, I’m interested because those origins relate to my family. If my question that the accent prompts causes discomfort, well, that’s not my problem.

Nevertheless, the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it unethical to ask a stranger “Where are you from?”

29 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Uber Driver’s Sign

  1. The sign is a signal, and here’s the interpretation you should glean from it:

    “I’ve been asked this question, pedantically, over and over again and I’m just burnt the f* out man. I’m an introvert by nature and just want to make some extra cash on the side by helping people get affordable transportation. If you want to talk to me, up your game with some inventive icebreakers. Otherwise, let’s just focus on getting you where you need to be, safely.”

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