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.


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