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#BestUberEver: Shad makes name for herself around Oxford with stories from the car

Michelle Shad isn’t what many would consider a typical Uber driver.

She’s a grandmother from Florida who moved to Oxford in December 2017 in order to be closer to her daughter and her grandson.

At the time of her relocation, Shad planned to open an upholstery business, but being the holiday season she knew the time wasn’t right to begin a new venture.

“My son suggested I become an Uber driver,” Shad said. “I was getting up at 12:30 p.m. to go pick him up (from work) every night, so I thought ‘okay.’”

Eight months later, Shad’s adventures driving college kids and Oxonians around Oxford have created quite the stir. Shortly after she began driving, Shad began an Instagram page, @bestubereverolemiss, to document the experience.

To date, the account has amassed over 1800 followers.

Shad began her Uber career by outfitting a shoe bag from the back of her passenger seat and filling it with everything she thought her riders might need: candy, throat lozenges, hand sanitizer, and other items and, after driving around the Ole Miss campus a few times to get her bearings, flipped on the app.

“My very first ride was a pick up off Aspen Ridge off of Anderson (Road) and it just turned out to be a bunch of my son’s friends. I pulled up to the house and the guy looked at me and said ‘oh my God, our Uber driver is Luke’s mom’ and it was game on. They were in the car, playing their music and freaking out over the bag and saying ‘oh, you are the best Uber ever.’ That’s where it started. I did not give myself that title, it was them,” Shad said.

Being 61-years-old, Shad admitted she didn’t know what to expect when she started driving.

“I didn’t think they would like me. I’m a 61-year-old, what am I going to have in common with a bunch of college kids,” Shad said.

But the secret of her success, Shad said, lies in how she treats the students who get into her vehicle.

“My car is like a ministry, it really is. We have great talks in the car about whatever is going on; relationship advice, life advice, a lot of stuff going on at school,” she said.

Some of those talks have extended to a new venture for the driver: she is working on a book, tentatively titled “Driving Ole Miss: Stories from the Car.”

Shad said she hopes the book will help current and future Ole Miss students learn how to navigate their life in Oxford.

No names will be used in the stories that Shad chooses for the book, and all conversations are recorded with the permission of those riding in the car, Shad said.

“I thought I could write a book about all the antics that the kids say,” Shad said. “But then someone got into the car with (a difficult situation) and the car just flipped. What I came to realize is that the school gives the kids the academic map to navigate to be successful. … nobody has ever given these kids the social map to follow to be successful unless you’ve had an older sibling you are clueless, so I thought I’d write this book.”

Chapters will include Greek life, leasing and renting, obligations and responsibilities as a pet owner and navigating the Square.

“There’s power in knowledge, and there’s confidence in having the power in the knowledge,” Shad said. “So I just want to write a book that gives you an idea of what your life is gonna look like.”

Shad has no set date for when she will finish the book, but in the meantime, she plans to continue driving around Oxford engaging with locals and students and giving advice. She is usually on the road Monday, Wednesday and Thursday through Sunday from 6:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.