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Prius drivers angry at being mistaken for Uber

In America's more caring cities, drivers of certain cars say app-wielders try to climb into the back of their vehicles.

Dear foggy people, there's no such thing as a Toyota Uber. Toyota/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

My friend Terence whined to me the other day: "People keep getting into the back of my car at the mall."

These, he believes, were people who had mistaken his car for their own.

Terence is a property developer. He goes to malls not to buy his comely wife lingerie, but to buy the mall. What sort of people think that his black Jeep SUV is theirs?

I wonder if they do, or if they're really just Uber people. In many senses.

It seems that the Bay Area (where Terence lives), as well as New York and other places, is increasingly prone to stranger car invasion.

Some drivers -- especially those of Priuses and SUVs -- are blaming Uber. Or rather, perhaps, app-obsessed milliennial types who think that in every Prius and SUV there must lurk an Uber driver.

As CBS San Francisco has it, annoyed drivers reach for Twitter to bemoan people trying to -- or even succeeding in -- getting into their cars.

This is a social phenomenon that needs deeper investigation. Are Priuses, for example, being so readily associated with Uber? Is there an essential sanctimony involved in both brands? Are they both inextricably linked with modern attempts to save the environment?

Or could it be that there are now so many Priuses on the roads of allegedly progressive cities that they roll along, one after another, in military file? The Prius is an especially recognizable car, so if an Uber user knows a Prius is coming, perhaps they don't look too closely to see whether it's their Prius or not.

Still, if the accusations are true, why aren't Uber users paying a little more attention? I know my own sanctimonious friends adore following the imminent arrival of their Uber car on little phone maps. They glory in the notion that the driver is only 3 minutes away, not 4. So it can't be that hard for people to identify the right car, can it?

Indeed, as an Uber spokesman told me: "The Uber app shows your driver's name, photo, car type, and license plate number so it's easy to find your ride, every time."

But perhaps not so easy for someone who is either entirely immersed in their own fascinating life (we are talking about San Francisco and New York here) or, just maybe, merely drunk.

I admit I was disturbed, on my last visit to New York, to see that so many yellow cabs are now Priuses and squitty little SUVs. It was as if the city had been invaded by a cabal of Mother Earth Teresas, determined to change the heart of a notoriously wicked place.

But please, Uber users, be sure that the car whose back door you reach for is the car whose back door you should be reaching for.

Prius drivers might well be aggressively progressive, fighting global warming wherever they find it.

I bet some of them are still packing, though.