An Email From a Brit; I Do Love Being Right This Time About the Evils of Uber; Two Photographs of Spring

I have not heard from a certain Brit in several weeks, my fault by the way, sometimes it is a bit difficult being my friend. But here is what he said, and I said, and then he said.

He: And happy valentines day to you too. Congratulations on moving to the centre of international art to study; perhaps there is still time for you to become one of the front people for Sotheby’s who seem so suave and knowledgeable. Well, knowledgeable.

Me: Are you suggesting that I am not suave. I am not, and hence having second thoughts about attendance at that school.

He: Heavy irony sometimes tips onto the person who uses it. so stay true to your artistic heritage/principles.

Me; You are such a dear!.

So obviously suave is going to be the word of the day. Suave is an adjective: charming, sophisticated, debonair, urbane, polished, refined, poised, self-possessed, dignified, civilized, gentlemanly, gallant; smooth, polite, well mannered, civil, courteous, affable, tactful, diplomatic. ANTONYMS unsophisticated,

I quite honestly do not see me as being polished, dignified, gallant. affable nor diplomatic I am not sure that I want to possess any of those qualities. So, although I am flattered by his response it does get me to wondering. Well one alternative is just to go to school and not become a “front person”, whatever that may be. I have met many people from Sotheby’s already, on both the London and New York campuses. and really liked them. They are uniformly helpful, efficient and seem to have good senses of humour. My email friend has probably not met any of them so I guess that I will still try to follow my dream. But it is good to question one’s goals particularly when you are taking a giant step at the age of seventy-six. (my birthday is in May).

But onto a totally different and distinct subject – Uber. I hate Uber, have never taken Uber and never will. I do not have respect for anyone that does take Uber. The drives are most probably not insured properly so if you are in an accident there is no means of redress. The drivers are not screened so one takes a chance of being driven by a pervert or something worse. I was staying at Inn at the Opera during my last visit to San Francisco and there was much laughter as a guest had used Uber and ended up in the middle of the Tenderloin, not an area one wants to be, to say the very least. I did not find the incident amusing and did tell management that they should not be referring people to Uber for legal reasons. They did not listen but as Hottie used to say: “It is not your problem, Alexis.” Well, for complicated reasons, it might be but I will not get into that. The odds are not that great. Well , you cannot imagine my joy upon opening a New Yorker article and finding out that for all kinds of reasons, scientific reasons, I am right. The article, Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life, was written by Nikil Saval. The story line states;”The ride-sharing service has become a subsidized alternative to the transit system that it claims to support.” Here are some of the facts that Saval uses to support his claims, stating that it in midtown Manhattan, where Uber and Lyft drivers spend forty per cent of their time idling without passengers, congestion has reached crisis proportions.“ Further he reports: “ A study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, published in October, concluded that, from 2010 to 2016, over fifty per cent of the increase in traffic delays in San Francisco were due to Uber and Lyft—and that Uber and Lyft cars constituted an estimated quarter of the total delay on the city’s streets. Another study, of twenty-two large U.S. cities by three University of Kentucky civil engineers, which was presented at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting, in January, deduces that T.N.C.s create immediate declines in bus and rail ridership—declines so steep that, in the next eight years, some transit agencies would have to increase service by more than twenty-five per cent just to retain their services.” I do hate to admit this but Saval can write better than Alexis McBride. He concludes his article with these well written words, “A more serious proposal might start with the possibility that Uber is opposed to public transit by design—every ride taken on a subway or bus is competition for its growing supply of cars. The app’s interface—that empty map—declares its priorities: the individual, the vehicle, and a place to be. It erases public space and public lives. The public good is not far behind.”

I do feel vindicated. Do let us make vindicated another word of the day. Vindicate, a verb: justify,warrant, substantiate, ratify, authenticate, verify, confirm, corroborate, prove, defend, support, back up, bear out, evidence, endorse.

I shall describe the the situation where I felt justified and ratified and brilliantly combine the two words of today which shall end this blog with a ray of hope. I entered into a conversation with a fellow passenger on a flight from New York to San Francisco. We differed on two items, he believed in Uber and did not believe that a sense of humour is an inherited trait. I knew him to be wrong but gracefully said:

Me: You and I have opposite viewpoints but I am not going to convince you and you are not going to convince me. So we should discuss another matter in which we have some agreement.

He: (speechless while rushing out of airplane to catch his Uber)

That was a suave way to handle the situation. It was gentlemanly and tactful. So perhaps Sotheby’s Institute of Art can be a place where I can hang onto my artistic principles after all. We shall see.

The photographs are two more from friend Jennifer W. illustrating the beauties of her surroundings in California. Deer grazing and a flowering tree. Nothing like that here in Vancouver, it is a grey day with no deer and no flowering trees. “But I am leaving this urban environment soon, “she said suavely.

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