I Am Not an Uber VIP

I am sometimes mistaken for a younger man. I don’t mean that people think I am a specific younger man, only that people are sometimes surprised to learn that I am 48. I think it’s not so much my appearance as my emotional immaturity, but whatever.

I mention this because among the other indicators of my age, I have never taken an Uber. I have nothing against the service. About 20 years ago I represented cab drivers who’d been sued after auto accidents, and while the sample was probably not representative, I did not particularly like most of the folks I defended.

So I have no problem with opening the market to competition, and I have heard generally good things about Uber from friends who have used it.

I don’t drink soda very often. I’ve probably had a half-dozen Cokes in the last several years. I recognize that soft drinks with a lot of sugar or corn syrup contribute to obesity and related diseases, I can’t support the idea that we should ban or limit the size of the soda you can buy.

Given the above, I thought it was a bit odd when I received an invitation to an event sponsored by Uber and Coca Cola recently. I used to go to these sort of things pretty often, but in the last five years, I’ve declined a lot more than I’ve attended. I thought about declining this one, too, but the day after I received the invitation, I was in the office, and tired, and bought a Coke without thinking about it. I got back to my office and saw the email, and thought, “Ok, perhaps this is a sign.”

Also, the event featured Aarón Sánchez.

I’m not going to lie, kids, I like Aarón Sánchez. I have met him twice, and each time he was actually present. By which I mean he was not looking over my shoulder to see who else was in the room, and he seemed genuinely interested in answering my questions.

I know, intellectually, that this is a skill. I am aware that I am not a special snowflake, and that he has been interviewed so many times that it must be second nature to answer inane questions about how to keep your food traditional and yet current. But I’m also pretty good, if I do say so myself, at judging when people are bullshitting me, and if that’s the case, I may be even more impressed.

I also like Johnny Sánchez, the restaurant on Poydras Street that Sánchez and chef John Besh opened in 2014. If I didn’t have to check out new places all the time, and if I was a wealthy man, I’d eat there more often than I already do, which is about once every couple of months. For me, that qualifies as “frequent.”

Additionally, my wife and I don’t get to go out very often, and the invitation included a guest. I love my wife, and moreover, I enjoy her company. These things considered, I was delighted to attend the event.

I didn’t know many people there, because as it turned out, the event was largely a reward for Uber VIPs. It was advertised as a “pop-up,” but given that the event was held at Johnny Sánchez, I’m not sure it qualified. Regardless, it was well-attended and the food I had was very good.

Chef Sánchez gave a demonstration of how to cook carnitas, which was entertaining and well-received. I think the most surprising thing about the evening was that I more or less enjoyed the drink that combined red wine and Coke. When I heard that combination, I honestly thought it would be vile, but while Tim McNally will probably never speak to me again, it was actually pretty good. Not as good as the house margarita, but still.

I’m not likely to start drinking Coke more often, and who knows when I’ll take my first Uber, but I enjoyed the experience.



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