My Lyft driver talks about race, place, and food

My Lyft driver is Gary. He tells me driving people around “kind of sucks.”

It’s not that Gary dislikes his passengers; he’d just rather do something else.

Gary explains how he used to be a sushi chef.

We talk about how there are a “crazy” number of sushi places on Ventura Blvd and how the California roll is the “grand daddy” of “bullshit sushi rolls.”

Gary attributes the popularity of “bullshit” sushi to the tastes of white people, which he describes as “not adventurous.” But when he asks where I go for sushi, he nods approvingly at my answers.

“My dream,” Gary says with a bashful smile, “is to open a restaurant someday.”

“Sushi?” I ask, thinking that Gary’s prior experience and strong opinions on the topic would make sushi the logical choice.

“Are you kidding, man? I’m Filipino. I will open a Filipino restaurant.”

I tell Gary that’s a great idea because there aren’t a lot of Filipino restaurants in the valley.

“Right! But there are a lot of Filipinos.”

I tell Gary that he needs to think big, go after all the people in the area.

“Do you think white people will eat Filipino food?” he asks.


Gary ponders this for a moment. Actually, he ponders a little too long and we miss our chance to turn left at the light.

Eventually, he agrees that Filipino food can be a hit with white people, as long as he has some fried dishes on the menu.

“Exactly,” I say. “Like how there are all those tempura rolls.”

“Tempura,” Gary sighs.

We drive the rest of the way in silence.

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