Karma Rides

OK, everyone is familiar with the concept of a karma ride. It is usually a short ride that takes place at least once in a shift. Then there are free rides that turn into a trip for a tip. I have spent afternoons offering rides "on the house" that are just as profitable as nights when I tell customers that I work for tips. (And I know that there are others who could say the same.)

Well last Saturday night I met an elderly lady who missed her bus and was stuck downtown. (She was frail, and walked with what I would describe as a slow and wobbly step. She reminded me of Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.) It was 8 pm and the buses stopped running at 7 pm. I asked the woman if she could call someone to pick her up. She said that she had just moved and had no phone and no one to call to pick her up. I asked her how far away she lived and she said that it was not that far and gave me the name of one major street by her home.

I seriously considered taking her to a taxi and having the taxi driver take her home at my expense. I quickly discarded this notion as I replayed her climbing into my cab with my assistance. Could I trust a taxicab driver with my passenger? I decided that I could not. Now that I was committed to taking the old woman home I started asking her what landmarks she could remember were near her new home. She narrowed down my options by informing me that she lived near a corner liquor store located next to a small restaurant.

Taking what I know of the area where she lives I started riding for the street she could remember the name of. I figured that if I started riding that she would eventually see the liquor store and/or the restaurant and we'd find her home in no time. I figured that she lived in one of two places and started riding hoping that I was correct. As we entered the first intersection I thought might be the correct one I asked her if she saw anything that looked familiar. She responded that she did not. I told her not to worry because it was just a matter of time before we arrived at her home.

Well, about a 1/2 mile later we approached the second intersection that fit her criteria. I again asked her if anything looked familiar. She paused, squinted and then recognized the two corner businesses. I asked her which way did I needed to drive and she told me to turn left, which I did as soon as the light turned green.

After a left turn and then another right turn we approached her home. I pulled up along side the curb next to her residence and dismounted from my pedicab. As I reached out to help my passenger off the pedicab she started crying. Through her tears she thanked me and apologized for having no money to give me. I explained that I didn't want her money and that I was just glad that she was home now. After helping her down off my cab she continued to cry as she gave me the tightest hug she could offer.

I am by no means the nicest man in the world, but for a moment last Saturday night, I was the nicest man in the world for elderly woman who I have never met. And that is the best tip of all.

Cross posted at Pedicab blog.


Heartbreaking fares

Recently our company was contracted by the city to provide pedicabs during the lunch hour (10 am to 2 pm) downtown. Over the past couple of weeks a majority of my passengers have been those that work downtown offset with the occasional jurist escaping for the lunch recess. I love my job! I get to exercise, conduct social experiments and make a little money on the side.

In riding downtown at lunch time I have come to know a new type of pedicab passenger. They are not your average passengers. They don't want to go to lunch. They aren't interested in going shopping. And they aren't in the least bit interested in walking and getting their exercise. So who are these passengers that I speak of? The passengers to whom I refer are the children and their mothers (and fathers) who for whatever reason are only allowed supervised visits with their children.

Last Friday I was stopped by a mother who asked about getting a ride for herself and her two kids. I said sure. Then she paused, turned to the CPS (Child Protective Services) worker to ask permission to ride my pedicab. He consented and then told me that we could only go so far as he had to be able to see us at all times. It was a strange feeling being watched. I could only wonder what the parent must be going through. How awkward a moment is it to spend quality time with your children knowing that there is someone looking over your shoulder the whole time.

Again, I don't know the circumstances that led to this arrangement. There is a plethora of reasons that I won't attempt to explain, rationalize. I could not help feel sorry for the mother and the children. The children were rather subdued despite my efforts to distract them with my skill at weaving between a series of light poles at slow speed. I guess that they too could feel the watchful eye of the CPS worker.

Today I gave yet another ride to a mother who was spending time with her children under the watchful eye of the CPS worker. Today's ride was different as the CPS worker joined the mother and her children for a ride through downtown. Together they enjoyed the ride while the children laughed and had a good time. I imagine that there will be other mothers (fathers) with their children seeking to escape if only for moment.

As a pedicab rider there are those times when my job can be physically demanding. After a long night the parking garage gets harder to climb. But after today I am convinced that the CPS worker has a tougher job than I do.

Cross posted over @ Pedicab Blog.


All Wet (aka: Getting Hosed)

So this cartoon wasn't posted after it was drawn. Truth be told, I drew this cartoon twice. In the first rendition Pelosi looked more like an angry old man in drag. Of course, there are those that thought that such a representation of Pelosi was preferable. As the artist I had to go with something that I was more comfortable with. I can always draw (get it?) upon the experience in the future should she develop an overly mannish appearance.

I suppose that the people getting hosed are really the US soldiers that are left to fight and die in Iraq. If I were truly a gifted cartoonist I would have included them in the cartoon, perhaps under the feet of the elephant. This cartoon was definitely more prescient a week ago than it is today, but I liked the image and those that I talked with about the cartoon really liked the imagery so with all deliberate hesitation I give to you, All Wet (aka: Getting Hosed).

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