“Really? Is that true”
“Wow! I have never heard of such a thing”
” Well, it is true. Many New Yorkers have never had a driver’s license. Ever.”
“But how do they get from one place to another.”
“ummm. They walk. They bike. They take the subway. Take the bus. Cab it.”
“Wow. wow. wow”
I have for almost 30 days straight ridden uber in Los Angeles. I have used the bus as well as Amtrak, Metrolink and their version of the subway. Just this past weekend, I went from Los Angeles to Anaheim for a work event using Amtrak. It was a bit of a wacky experience in that the stated time listed on the big board in the station was completely off by 15 minutes. Luckily, my New York spidey sense told me to go to the platform at 12:30 rather than the listed 12:44. As I got onto the platform the train was getting ready to leave. I had just made it. I don’t quite get why the time listed was so wrong. I have come to expect such wackiness in Los Angeles. At least, I was able to get onto the train. I love getting my small wins. I have to get my sense of empowerment from all bits of life.
Despite my Amtrak adventure in Southern California, I have primarily relied on Uber to take me throughout the city of Los Angeles, to and from work as well as to and from the airport. I have had a number of interesting Uber rides where I get to learn about the fabric of this city. I highly recommend using Uber in a new city if you can’t walk it, especially if you are a talker. If you can conduct an ethnographic interview, Uber is for you.
What I have found amusing throughout all my Uber rides, is the total lack of comprehension of New York life. Without fail, every Uber driver has asked me about how people get around in New York. When I explain that I have never had a driver’s license they are quite befuddled and bemused. It’s an incomprehensible state of being. Uniformly, they all note that eventually I will get a driver’s license in LA. I can see how many would think that. I had a brief few seconds myself where that thought crossed my mind. I even went on to the Los Angeles DMV website. I was so confused that I immediately shut it down. Interestingly, I was told that the driver’s test in Los Angeles does NOT include parallel parking. Hmm. Do you remember that Seinfeld episode where George finds a tight street parking space and decides to back into it while another driver heads into it. A major fight ensues. That’s New York Life. Seeing how the downtown Los Angeles area is starting to grow, I can only assume that parallel parking will become a new skill set.
Now, here is the thing as to why I felt that I may not yet get my driver’s license. With the advent and rise of Uber, I can get around everywhere, while still working. It’s sort of like New York. In the commuter trains in New York, you see busy laptop after laptop. Uber still gives me a sense of being a New Yorker. The costs are also slightly cheaper than other places. Or so it seems. Of course, there are enormous number of price surges that you have to try to wait out or just bite the bullet on.
Eventually, I do hope to be part of the public transportation revolution that will have to come to Los Angeles. This over-reliance on cars must stop considering that research after research study shows asthma and other illnesses being associated with the high use of cars and smog in LA. For now, I have enjoyed the stories and the people I have met through the use of Uber. Will I get a driver’s license? Time shall tell.
P.S. After exiting Amtrak on the Anaheim platform, I quickly went outside believing there would be either shuttles to the hotel or taxis. There was neither. There were some buses that seemed intent on just hanging out. I broke down and opened up my Uber Application and one arrived 8 minutes later When he arrived he asked me what was this place at which I was standing alongside about ten other people. I explained that it was the transportation hub where Amtrak stopped. And he noted he never knew there was a transportation hub there and he had lived in that town for over 5 years. Oh California!