I felt like everyone around me had attended a seminar on success that I’d slept through and I’d never be able to catch up.
12:03 PM Wednesday, July 9th — Halal Cart, 69th and Madison
Length: 11 people Weather: 81 degrees and partly cloudy Crowd: Construction workers Mood: Distracted Wait Time: Approximately seven minutes Lingering Question: How many Halal carts can one neighborhood sustain?
Have you been in a New York cab recently? Sometimes prompted but more often not, drivers will want to talk to you about Uber. If you’re in a yellow cab or a livery car, you will hear about Uber the virus, Uber the interloper, Uber the merciless invader; if you’re in an Uber cab, or an Uber-adjacent green taxi, you’ll hear about Uber the inevitable, Uber the strange, Uber the great (for now). It’s been a boom time for untethered drivers—a magical stretch during which they could take advantage of high fares, high demand, and low barriers to entry all at once. It was acknowledged, rarely explicitly, that the arrangement felt strange and temporary—the product of an imbalance, not a new status quo.
This has been imagined in the press as a battle between unregulated drivers and their super-regulated counterparts. But that’s not it at all! This was, and is, and will be until Uber’s billion dollars either runs out or multiplies itself, Uber against the world. Look what they did today: We just dropped uberX fares by 20%, making it cheaper than a New York City taxi. From Brooklyn to the Bronx, and everywhere in between, uberX is now the most affordable ride in the city.
Haha, first of all, “the most affordable ride in the city” that is in a car, driven by another human, for your individual transportation, maybe. Uber’s style is too consistent for its announcement post to be called tonedeaf; it’s a company that wears its fuck-you, get-mine philosophy on its sleeve. Its price examples have riders going from Williamsburg to the East Village, from Grand Central to the Financial District, from Nolita—Nolita!—to Lincoln Center. From your LOFT to FASHION WEEK, from the TRADING DESK to THE TRAIN TO YOUR LARGE DISTANT HOME, from your STEEL RESIDENTIAL ARCOLOGY to your TASTING MENU, Uber will save you two dollars.
I don’t really know what my real problem is. I can name an array of problems that I have, but I don’t know if they are symptomatic, causal, imaginary or just plain over-analyzing. I don’t have childhood traumas from which I can say everything started. I only know that these issues manifested themselves when I started university. I’ve kept diaries on and off for long periods of time and am seeing a therapist regularly for the last 1.5 years. Self-help books gather dust because I don’t know if they actually address a problem I have. Or I lose motivation. Ultimately, I feel like I am in stasis.
On the surface, I’ve spent the last eight years in two different universities and I’ve yet to graduate. If that were the only issue, I wouldn’t engage in a self-perpetuating cycle of self-pity, self-hate/destruction and apathy. I’m bad at relationships generally, and I don’t just mean romantically. It wasn’t as much of a problem when I lived a rather sheltered existence as an expat with my family. We had a wide circle of family friends, and my academic ability at the time gave me a confidence to secure good friendships, some of which have been able to last to this day. And all this despite due negligence on my part. It doesn’t help that I’m introverted, self-conscious and have insecurities.
I managed to maintain a bit of this at my first university—joined societies and what with being agreeable and trying to please people. I had friends, very good ones too. But, I have a habit of associating my self esteem with academic ability. When I started withdrawing academically, I became even more of a social recluse than I already was. It became difficult to confront people and my family. On the outside, I mustered up a happy exterior to the world. Otherwise, I fled from reality into an online world of internet friendships, TV shows and movies. This removal doubtless compounded my academic failures and frayed my already strained relationships with my peers.
I know that it is best to be honest about my situation, but I never felt like I was in the position where I could afford to lose the friendships, superficial or not, that I had. I just didn’t have that luxury. It was in the anonymity of the web that I found I could better express myself, more as a listener than a speaker. Helping people made me feel better about myself. It relieved the guilt and shame that would gnaw inside me. And however moot some might think these online relationships are, among the few that flourished, I actually found love with a girl after years of contact. We actually met, but despite her being one of the most wonderful people I have met and being very much in love with me, I ruined it with my neglect. I hurt her a lot.