The glory is in the details in many of life’s highest domains. One detail in gallery hopping is transportation. To map out what gallery openings, book talks, or art events we want to pack into an evening’s enjoyment, we now have three major resources – discussed previously and to be revisited soon. Two are online: ArtCards.cc and LarryQualls.blogspot.com; one, inTheArtWorld.com, is strongest in print, with its M Magazine and NYC gallery maps for the Village/Lower East Side, Soho/Tribeca, Chelsea, Midtown/57th street, Uptown/UES/Madison ave, Brooklyn/Williamsburg, Queens/LIC, and greater New York.
Most New Yorkers know with chagrin that Taxis are never there when you need them – and that standing with arm raised high in hopes of getting one is a very frustrating position to be in.
Enter Uber, offering unlimited Uberpool riding in October for $200 and unlimited Uberpool riding 6am-8pm weekdays most of November for $89. It seemed simple, it seemed wonderful. But then again there are those details.
I tried Uber though it seemed too good to be true. But yes it is true. Go from home to gallery one, look at the show, have a drink and a nibble, and summon a taxi to go to gallery two, knowing exactly when and approximately where you’ll be picked up. That part worked.
But the glory is in the details. And Uber’s glorious vision is dashing about NYC on errands and for enjoying art-on-demand has foundered on the rocks of computer glitches and strange policies & procedures. The conclusion? When dancing with a Gorilla Corporation be prepared to have your toes stepped on and your plans crushed.
In six weeks of use I have logged no less than 10 disappointments. Drivers not showing up, times suddenly changed, odd pick locations. Then my credit card got hacked – and Uber mercilessly blocked any use. Then I found Uber has virtually no help. Oh, it’s there, but it’s one of those specially protected secrets of the universe. And whoever they’ve hired as help doesn’t believe in answering questions – though they seem quite free and easy with reimbursements and credits.
The result if you persist in using Uber is that you must become an expert on their software, on how to work their arcane help, and their seemingly capricious rules. Be prepared for tests of equanimity that would break the serenity of a buddhist monk.
The dream was so near – and the realization of that dream, so far. Pooling also means having Mr. Computer decide that though you were well on your way, picking another plum off the tree is just too tempting. Be prepared for drivers who must forego common sense – and driving situations they can see with their own eyes – and Obey The Mapping Program – – which can send you to places no sensible person could ever even imagine. Be prepared for Helpers who offhandedly tell you that your current disaster is due to a glitch or software adjustments – but who can’t tell you when or how a solution will be achieved.
At times I never thought I’d welcome being in the cramped, lumpy, TV screen screaming and jailhouse atmosphere of Manhattan’s Yellow Cabs. At least the transaction there was up front and personal – with no after-the-fact penalties levied for changing my route, showing up a minute late, or bringing along a pal.
Uber seems to have hired Ming the Merciless as its CEO. And its minions are making a the dream of going from gallery to gallery – a nightmare.