By Kassidy Desnoyer
Michelle Shad, also known to Oxonians as “Best Uber Ever,” has made a name for herself around the community as one of the city’s most notable Uber drivers for students and residents. Shad, a Florida native, made the move to Oxford several years ago to be closer to her family.
Shad started driving Uber as a way to make extra cash, but it quickly became her full-time job driving five to six nights a week. Shad knew when she started she had to go big. She wanted to make a business and create a brand rather than simply being a method of transportation. Shad wanted to be known as the best Uber driver in Oxford.
“I got a shoe bag and hung it off the back of the passenger seat, and I filled it up with candy, breath mints, gum, and everything I thought would be handy. When the students would get in the car, they would respond with ‘WOW! You are the best Uber ever!’” Shad said.
Shad created an Instagram account as a way for riders to connect and contact her if needed. She didn’t intend to be so close with the students; however, she feels that being a grandmother has helped her really connect with her riders. Shad now feels a special bond with the students at Ole Miss and treats each of them like her own kids, she said.
“Most rides only last for about seven minutes. You would not think a conversation in that short of time could be fulfilling, but they are,” Shad said.
Students say they love to take pictures that will be posted on Shad’s social media pages.
“I asked some of the students during the ride if they wanted to have their picture on the Insta page for fun. That turned into ‘Gee, I want to be famous. Could I get on the page?’ It’s turned into a legitimate fan club,” she said.
Now, it has become a tradition for students to take a picture whenever they get in the car. Shad keeps a sticker across the back of her car that says, “driving stories from the car,” and is constantly being noticed around the Oxford community.
As Shad’s following grew, she used her Instagram account to let the Oxford community know about important events around Oxford, Greek events, missing animals, and possible checkpoints.
“Michelle’s Instagram account is truly one of my favorite accounts that I follow. I love seeing my friends on the page and knowing about important events in Oxford. She always makes sure to update her followers when there are checkpoints or accidents in the area. Her account is a must follow for all students in Oxford,” said student Camryn Sidley.
Shad said she strives to make her Uber rides comfortable experiences, allowing patrons to have control of the aux cord, receive life advice, and grab a snack.
“Michelle is like a second mom to many of the students. I have ridden with her multiple times and I jump for joy whenever I see she will be my Uber driver because I know I will have an enjoyable experience,” Sidley said. “She gives great life advice and is willing to help every student to the best of her ability. You truly don’t get an Uber driver that cares about the safety of students like Michelle does.”
Shad hopes to share some of her experiences in a book she is writing called, “Driving Ole Miss: Stories from the Car.” She envisions the book to be a social playbook for Ole Miss students and wants to give prospective students and parents a clear idea of life in Oxford.
“Most of my book will include the madness on the Square, renting and leasing, advice about navigating your way around Oxford, how to stay out of trouble, interesting anecdotes from students, and more,” Shad said.
She has also been working on launching a podcast where she will feature Ole Miss students to talk about various topics. The podcast is a way for students to discuss the things that are important to them and that she thinks the rest of the world needs to hear, she said.
“I had a student ask to do a podcast about how his sister is handicapped at college and he wants people to know what she has to deal with. Then, I have students that just want to talk about themselves. The most popular topic they want to talk about is getting arrested and the aggressive police department here,” Shad said.
Shad also wants to create change around the Oxford community. She wants the city to address a safe drop-off and pick up for Ubers on the square and would like to get the law for public intoxication changed to reflect an arrestable behavior instead of being punished for just having one drink.
“I have emailed the mayor but have never had a response. I think it will take someone getting hurt to get it done. The changes for something like this come slow but I will work toward getting it changed for as long as it takes,” Shad said.