Uber ride, über-terror

What do you do when your Uber driver is apparently psychotic?

I had one of those rare trips from hell yesterday in a ride-share Jeep Cherokee, a 30-minute voyage of carelessness, irresponsibility and stinkiness, many near-swerves off the road, hacking coughs, phone call-making, improper mask wearing, etc. It was a real white-knuckler. I would have stunt-rolled out the door, one of my specialities, but we were on the freeway and, besides, I was on a clock.

After shambling out of the vehicle, I reported my experience to Uber, feeling like the playground tattle-tale, but about an issue of life and death. I wrote: “erratic and distracted driving, possibly intoxicated, wore a ratty old face mask that he slipped off his nose repeatedly, and filled the car with scary, raucous coughing.”

I didn’t mention the unbearable stench of Marlboro smoke and the man’s sub-hobo appearance, or that he was fidgeting like a mangy dog (or a meth-head), with barely one hand on the wheel. The only time I piped up was to exclaim “Dude!” when he about crashed into a guardrail doing 70 for the umpteenth time. Did I mention he came this close to rear-ending a shiny burgundy Honda?

A little miffed and rattled, I rated the driver two stars, which is “bad,” only because the one star “terrible” rating looked so harsh. After all, he did deliver me to my destination, though neither of us exchanged a customary “thank you.” He can only dream I tipped him for that fright ride, that possibly infectious (Covid!) and deadly ride. Now that I think about it, I should have pressed “terrible.”

When you rate a driver that low, Uber asks for a report from the aggrieved, which I noted above. They were quick to refund the $27 ride and assure me, “We are investigating this situation further to evaluate whether or not the driver will continue to have access to the Uber app” 

Oh, crap. Did I just get this driver fired? The whole thing is unpleasant and could get ugly. I don’t feel too bad for the guy — he kinda sucks — but I don’t want that much negative power. I hope they straighten it out, that he was just having a bad day, that he wasn’t driving under the influence, and that he has a super Christmas. (Also that he takes a shower, quits smoking, goes to driver’s ed and does something about those crazy jitters.) 

I’m trying not to be flip here, but it’s all out of my hands, and for all I know he destroyed me on my rating (drivers, of course, being able to rate riders, too). 

But, really, what’s he going to get me for — leaving deep fingernail marks of naked terror on the armrests?

Someone else’s tough-love rating, for reasons more innocuous than mine.

We’ll always have Paris?

With a dash of relief, I’ve learned my cheap ticket to Paris for October remains valid, that United hasn’t deemed it necessary to cancel the trip — yet. Booked in early April, when the pandemic was mustering its full fury, the flight still does seem doomed, even four months away. The virus isn’t letting us off that easy.  

Hitches abound. Like the new edict by the European Union barring American visitors to the Continent. That’s a nifty start. Perhaps that will change by fall, if a particularly reckless, infantile and hysterically pathological world leader decides to do his job and quit frothing at the mouth. 

But what will Paris be like in four months? The city is gingerly reopening, taking wise baby steps. Cultural crown jewel the Louvre opens Monday with Covid guidelines and protocols. Only 70 percent of the museum will be accessible — most of the popular stuff — and masks will be mandatory for visitors aged 11 and up.

Cleaning up the Louvre for its July 6 reopening.

I’ve done the Mona Lisa to death, but for those who must, it will go like this, says a Louvre director: “Until now, people would crowd around the Mona Lisa. Now, visitors will stand in one of two lines for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then each person is guaranteed a chance to stand in front of the Mona Lisa and look at her from a distance of about 10 feet.”

I’ll politely pass.

The magnificent Musée d’Orsay opens July 23. Musée Picasso, a personal essential, opened June 22, as did Musée de l’Orangerie and citywide cinemas (I always see three or four classic movies when in Paris). Centre Pompidou opened three days ago, and the ghoulish Catacombs have been open since mid-June. Showing through January 2021 at Musée Jacquemart-André is “Turner: Paintings and Watercolours from the Tate” — nirvana.

That’s a tantalizing start. Or is it foolhardy, madness?

Parks and gardens are open, as are many shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. But that also signals a behavioral slalom course of masks, social distancing, crowd control, etc. Right now, I wouldn’t hazard it, even in my favorite city. Now isn’t the time to be there. Four months, fingers crossed.

This incorrigible planner has had a fully refundable hotel reservation since spring — Hôtel Jeanne d’Arc Le Marais, which has reopened — and slavering beads on at least three restaurants, including the peerless Frenchie and Michelin-star Le Chateaubriand. 

At six days and six nights, this is a short jaunt to Paris for me. If it happens. I have no doubt the pandemic could dash my plans, and that’s OK, because I’ve resigned myself to things not working out. In these epochal times, far more important things jut into high relief, the pandemic to the November election.    

We’ll always have Paris, sure. It’s just a matter of when.

Whenever. Whatever.