Please like me, Uber?

Dan Adler on his Spring Break travels throughout New Orleans.

Did you know Uber rates you? I didn’t, until two weeks ago when my friends came upon this small 5-star score that became a semi-serious way for them to belittle my lower rating. Why this is relevant? Because I recently took a trip to New Orleans with 4 friends.

Throughout the trip to the Big Easy, filled with music, drinks and Creole culture, the back of my mind churned on how to raise my score to the best it can be. Why does the score matter? Does it influence drivers to pick you up or not to? I checked my score at the beginning and end of the journey, believing in my morality as a polite rider to carry me forward. Below is my account of each trip, and all of the ups-and-downs they had to offer.

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Congo Square, the alleged ‘birthplace’ of jazz of NOLA

Trip 1: 3/13/16 at 6:58AM from my apartment to the Baltimore Airport

Shit, I woke up at 6:36AM to a flood of texts and calls from my two friends waiting in the lobby…where I was supposed to meet them six minutes ago. Mike’s (my roommate’s) voice on the phone startled me as I stream in consciousness, and unfortunately realize where I still am…and where I’m supposed to be. I spring out of bed and look on the ground to see my suitcase full – thank god I was somewhat responsible and packed last night. Hop in the shower after Mike, run out and zip up my bag. My stomach is telling me to eat something so I check the fridge…no luck on food (no shit Sherlock I’m about to travel for the week). Find some cookies around a door. Steal one for breakfast.

We make it downstairs by 6:55AM (something I’m oddly proud of) and my two other friends are glaring at us. I call the Uber, which arrives pretty quickly, and make my way into the back seat as my college-student body reminds myself that it’s too early to be alive. I remember the cookie in my pocket with the hope to get some sort of nutrition (again, college student here) and keep my body standing until the plane. Pop it in my mouth, get a slight sugar rush and check the time. Flight boards in an hour and a half…should be golden.

My companions on their cellphones decide they want to check their Uber ratings. Each have 4.8-5.0 range; I’m a 4.5. You’d think consulting for the summer would give me some travel cred? Suddenly I’m feeling self-conscious, but by the time we arrive at the airport the post-sugar rush relaxation begins and I’m ready to fall back asleep. Probably will happen at the gate. Hope I don’t miss my flight.

Trip 2: 3/14/16 at 7:11PM from the Warehouse District to Cajun Seafood

Made it through day one successfully! No one injured, no one in the hospital, no one in jail (just kidding). On day two we decided to try and walk to the Garden District…all the way across town. This failed and I think I broke my right converse along the walk, but that repair is for another moment. My friend is having a constant allergy attack due to the dust cover in our AirBnb. Ironically we walked past the convention center and saw that “Tissue World” was happening. More ironically walked in and found no tissues. Got free water though…you take what you can, no?

Finally found a PJ’s coffee to be able to relax and sit for a bit as we slowly realize we haven’t eaten in hours. Gus mentioned that there was a really good seafood place nearby our apartment. I look it up – it’s called “Cajun Seafood”- someone had a spark of creativity.

I call an Uber to pick us up and take us crosstown. We get in and enter the address. The driver looks at us and asks us if we really want to go there; he says it’s kind of in the “hood”, and suggests going to another place, Superior Seafood, instead. It’s on the other side of town though, so maybe will try tomorrow as my pockets are running thin.

We get to Cajun Seafood, and I’m not going to deny the Uber Driver’s statement. But damn, it was good seafood. I’ve never had crawfish before so that was an experience, and I think my hands are about 10 different colors from the juice. To be honest, was way too much work for too little food. I’m lazy when it comes to eating.

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Crawfish in the 7th Ward

Trip 3: 3/15/16 at 5:36PM at Superior Seafood to Treme

Took Uber driver two’s advice and got Superior Seafood. It was good; definitely fit for tourists (like me). My roommates ate Po’ Boys – bacon wrapped oysters – I think their

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Mardi Gras left-overs

cardiovascular systems will thank them later. I decided for a healthier choice this time…aka a giant bowl of seafood bisque. I’ll live until I’m 50 and call it a day. On the plus side we walked about 10 miles, saw some pretty houses in the process. The Garden District was worth the wait, mostly because we made it just in time to Superior’s happy hour.

On the finish called a car. Driver was pretty funny, but realized by my Gap shorts (normal) and button downs that we were tourists. He was confused when I told him we were staying in the Treme, said don’t go too far north. I told him the house was nice, he said your house is nice (thank you AirBnb), but that’s not reality. At least there’s good seafood.

 

Trip 4: 3/16/16 at 4:15PM from Treme to Audobon

We were too lazy to make the trip again crosstown – also realized that this is the first time we were getting out of our area the entire day…minus the fried chicken I just ate. Thank you spring break. The driver dropped us off at a pretty gated area on the edge of Audobon Park, right across from Tulane. I saw Tulane was hosting a Trombone Shorty concert the next night. My head gets excited until I see the “Tulane Student’s Only” clause printed in small type on the sign’s bottom. Heart sinks…I can pass for a Tulane student, right?

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Audobon Park

 

Trip 5: 3/16/16 at 7:45PM from Audobon to Treme

I realize my Uber rating is probably immediately going down. Should have made another friend call…oops. I’m not sure what a driver thinks when he picks five students up from a college bar on a Wednesday evening. I promise I’m not drunk as we only went to meetup with other JHU students who happened to be on campus. Again, it’s only 8PM. The night is young, no?

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Street construction

 

On another note – previous day driver was right. Walking back in the Treme post 2AM is not fun. People sneak between the random construction that seems to be occurring everywhere throughout the city. Did I mention that there’s construction everywhere? Reminds me of the 2+ year venture to renovate Charles Street at home, except I couldn’t find anyone actually working on the construction sites in NOLA. Took the driver a few different turns to get around it, and make it home. Think I’m going to take back the whole night is young thing. I’m ready for bed.

 

Trip 6: 3/17/16 at 6:16PM from Upper Ninth Ward to Treme

I couldn’t get a car from the Lower Ninth Ward, so we had to cross the bridge into the Upper Ninth to get back. This time there was no construction, but there probably should have been. We ventured to see the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum – something my friend found online. Definitely not a part of the normal college student St. Patrick’s Day.

The museum was small, i.e. it was a house-turned-museum in the Ninth Ward. Definitely kept with the homey feeling though. We walked in and found the day’s worker surrounded by students who had just left school. Got a few random nods from the community on the walk. Seems pretty welcoming from a place that has gotten screwed over so many times by the rest of the world. The Uber driver didn’t know the museum even existed. Doesn’t seem like he ventures there much. Took another mention about how we probably shouldn’t walk home at night – told him it was too late.

Trip 7: 3/18/16 at 4:50AM from Treme to airport

Why would we schedule flights at 6AM? Probably the worst decision made at the trip. Also, my friend randomly was rerouted onto a different flight pattern. He called the Delta helpdesk the day before to get on our flight and they acquiesced – rerouting him to a completely different travel plan than the two previous. Delta helpdesk. That’s an oxymoron.

You can imagine the wonderful decision we made…to stay awake and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. Was worth it for me; saw an awesome brass band on Frenchman Street, and ate my last Po’ Boy (which is making me really sick right now). Unfortunately my friends are in even worse shape, landing at our AirBnb around 4AM, when we were supposed to be leaving for the airport (I think we’re even for the beginning of the trip now). Finally get in the car and the driver does not look pleased. I apologize in advanced – there goes my 4.5. Slowly realizing why the community hates AirBnb renters, slowly falling asleep anyway.

Trip 8: 3/18/16 at 1:01PM from BWI to JHU

We made it back! I’m half asleep and ready to crash in bed for the next 6.02 x 10^23 hours (sorry I’m an engineer). Luckily everyone crashes on the way home. I get back to my apartment and lie in bed. Shit, I need to do laundry. Check my Uber rating…4.6. Trip was a success.

Dan Adler likes jazz music so of course he would go to New Orleans. But, during his trip he focused more on how his iPhone health app could keep track of how far he was walking because he’s a nerd. You can check out his even nerdier blog at dadler.co/engineering-beauty.

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