Teri Vance: Celebration turns to despair for Carson City Uber driver
Special to the Appeal
Tammy Hewlett found gratitude easy to come by this Thanksgiving.
On that very day, she hit her 1,000 drive mark since starting with Uber nearly a year ago.
Driving for the ride-share companies Uber and Lyft had given her financial stability, but even more, the job brought her personal satisfaction.
“This job has given me back my self-confidence and my self-worth,” she said. “It’s given me a new faith in humanity.”
She celebrated with a Facebook post, where friends responded with congratulations and other well wishes.
Less than week later, the jubilation turned to despair.
“My car just got stolen in Carson City,” she posted simply to her social media account.
Hewlett set her keys down on a chair in a downtown Carson City business on Wednesday.
Police suspect someone grabbed the keys, then used the automatic opener to determine which car the keys belonged to.
The thief got away with her all-wheel-drive 2008 Honda CR-V.
“That was the perfect car because it could get around in the snow so well,” she said. “I just put on new tires, new rotors, new brakes. It was in perfect shape.”
It also comes at the worst time of the year. Not only is it right before Christmas, but with the weather and the parties, it’s also her busiest season.
The 1988 Carson High School graduate was looking for a way supplement her paltry income after taking a medical retirement from the state a few years back.
A friend suggested she try driving. On a whim, she took the idea for a spin Dec. 23 of last year.
“I immediately knew this was my calling,” she said. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I love interacting with people.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people I meet are amazing, smart, funny, wonderful … the list goes on and on.”
Her insurance will reimburse her the value of her car, which is estimated at $4,600. However, she still owes $10,000 on the car.
“That leaves me paying almost $6,000 for a car I don’t even have,” she said. “That’s not even thinking about trying to buy a new one.”
There’s also the added costs of changing all of her locks the thief now has keys to.
Her friend Scott Keever set up a GoFundMe to help Hewlett replace her car.
“This hero needs us all to be heroes for her,” Keever said. “She needs a safe, dependable vehicle that will pass Uber and Lyft inspections as well as the ability to replace everything that was in her car at the time it was stolen. Let’s fight for her.”
Hewlett had recently invested in accessories for the car as well.
“My car is like an experience when you get in and go for a ride,” she said. “It’s kind of like therapy for me in a way. It really is. Even though I’m the therapist half the time.”
In fact, since she’s started driving, she’s been able to come completely off one of the medications she was taking for depression.
“It’s made the biggest difference in my outlook,” she said. “Every day is a better day, and I felt so much better about myself.
“I post about my driving all the time because I’m so proud of it. It’s amazing to me that I’m so good at something.”
Her customers agreed, rating her 4.98 stars out of 5 on Uber and 4.99 on Lyft.
She drives in Carson City, Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Reno.
Some of her regular clients have become her friends.
“And now it’s all gone,” she lamented. “I’m just devastated. It wasn’t just a car. It was my freedom, my livelihood, my everything. They have no idea what they took.”
To help Tammy replace her car, go to http://www.gofundme.com/local-hero-needs-a-hero-this-holiday.
If you have any information about the stolen car, contact Carson City Sheriff’s deputy Jason Bueno at 775-887-2020 ext. 45443.