Ministering to the dinners and diners

Andrew Pound. Photo: John Borren.

Uber driver Andrew Pound loves the vibrancy of Tauranga city.

Once a Baptist minister, he has been with Uber since the company began in the Bay of Plenty more than two years ago and enjoys seeing what’s happening around the city as he takes passengers, dinners and diners to their destinations.

“I took my wife on an overseas trip about four years ago. We did nine countries in nine weeks, finishing with a cruise in the Mediterranean and had a magnificent time. As part of that we used Uber for the first time in the United States and Italy. I was very intrigued and quizzed the drivers deeply, asking them all sorts of questions. I thought if it ever comes to Tauranga, I might even consider doing it.

“Sure enough, a few months later, I heard Uber was starting here.”

On his final day working at an English language school, Uber launched in Tauranga.

“I had imagined that I might turn on Uber and catch a ride on the way home. As it turned out I had some software problems, so I started two days later.”

He collects and delivers Uber Eats but prefers to drive people and loves to work at night.

“With COVID-19 there were massively reduced numbers of people for nights. I’m doing days at the moment, until things really step up again, especially in terms of the nightlife, with people visiting each other and socialising.

“It’s a whole different world out there at night, it’s very peaceful. You’ve got the roads to yourself and see an entirely different set of people, like the bakers who start work at one in the morning. Night has a different charm to it.”

The retired Baptist minister of 20 years spent five years school teaching, followed by five years as a Baptist minister in Oamaru and 15 years at Westgate Baptist in Auckland.

“The ministry was the first thing I really wanted to do. But Kay and I also had a dream of doing something together at some point in our life.”

The couple took up a position as managers at Chosen Valley Christian Camp with 150 beds, nine staff, two chefs, and 6500 people through per year. After Kay became unwell, they resigned, with Andrew moving on to a manager role at the language school.

As well as his driving, they also now run a retreat at their Tauranga home for people suffering burn-out.

“We've been doing that for five years now. People come and stay with us for whatever period of time they need. They just become part of the family and we cook for them and they live with us.”

He enjoys the flexibility of being an Uber driver, being able to get his hair cut and meet Kay for coffee before heading back to the road again to pick up the next passenger.

“Last year I took six weeks off, cut down trees on the property and cleaned out the garage.”

He finds he gets to know some passengers very well after driving for them many times.

“You get fabulously qualified people sometimes. The jobs they have are just amazing, some jobs that I never knew existed. Some people are very, very entertaining - the stories they tell, the things they're into, the experiences they've had around the world. It’s just an awful lot of fun.”

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