Manny Pimentel recently wrote a blog post describing his ‘Nurse to CCNA’ journey. It was a great post and very cool to see the man behind the man who is the president of short IT Twitter. This got me reflecting a bit on my own journey. I’m not up for telling the whole story of how I came to 40 years of age, so I’ll stick to just one…
Somewhere between 2006-2008 I found myself drawn to the Bat Cave, 909 Marion St in downtown Seattle. I just got my Associates degree from South Seattle Community college and I was working at a place not far from the Bat Cave, a corporate lunch spot called Mel’s Market tossing salads. As luck would have it, I spotted an ad on craigslist while looking for some sort of bike messenger position, a pedicab driver. I contacted the ad and let them know of my interest.
My First Business
I felt a bit of apprehension as the guy ‘interviewed’ me and let me drive him around the block as he explained to me what it was about to do this sort of work. He let me do a few days, expecting me to fail or realize this work wasn’t for me, but, as it turns out, this work was just my cup of tea, in my own way.
To be a pedicab driver I would have to obtain a business license and then I’d rent the pedicab from this man. I completed the paperwork, I think at this time you could obtain a business license for about $80. Then I’d show up for work at the Bat Cave where all the pedicabs were stored…
Pedicab rental rates varied depending on what was going on that day. I don’t recall exact rates but the were something like:
- Mariners Games $35
- Football Games $60
- Any old day $15 – $25
So I’d show up, do a quick check on my bike and head out, I’d have to payout the rental fee once I was done for the night. That was it, keep anything I made past my rental, all cash.
We had about the same group of riders while I was there. It consisted of about 2-3 old timers and 6-8 young new comers.
A Typical Shift
A Mariners game is a good example of a typical shift. I’d arrive to the Bat Cave at around 2:30 – 3 pm for a typical 5ish first pitch. Back in these days there was usually between 3 – 6 pedicab drivers in total, on any given night. We’d lineup like taxis before the games start at the ferry dock, waiting for would be baseball fans to get off and take them to the gates at Safeco Field.
The price of this service would fluctuate a bit, most of the time I’d quote $12 or $17. I was taught to always use an odd number so that you can expect at least $15 or $20 by the end of the ride. Even so, I’d very rarely have the change needed at this point, especially early in this shift. On a good day, I’d hopefully get 3-4 trips from the ferry to the baseball game. So I’d already be well into making money time having already covered my rental fee.
Once the game starts till it ends is more of an adventure. You can choose to wait at any of the exit gates, the easiest rides being the one closest to the ferry. People tend to trickle out of the game after the 5th or 6th inning with a big rush at the end of the game. After the game people ask to go to all sorts of places, from a pub, a strip club or the Siren tavern. Even a couple hours after the game it’s not hard to pick up a ride in Pioneer Square to make some extra cash. Also, the later it gets the more people are willing to pay. Not sure if this has anything to do with alcohol consumption but could be an indicative variable.
Two rides I remember more than any other. One such ride was giving two girls a ride to a Tavern and they were groping and kissing my back the way whole way there. I did not enter into that tavern nor ever speak to them again, still a story (for another day or another platform??!)…The other was a single rider whom I’d taken from the stadium area all the way to a place in Belltown. This one stands out because it was the longest one way trip I’d ever done on a pedicab. I told her that and also the chance I’d be getting more rides was slim and she paid me more in one trip than I usually made in most nights. Great conversationist that one as well.
And I digress…
At the end of the night, usually around 11 pm I’d venture, we’d all end up back in the Bat Cave counting our money. Back in those days I wore some pretty form fitting pants and I’d just have bills stuffed in my sweaty pockets. I wasn’t even to dare trying to do too much with those bills in my pockets out in public, so I’d get back and begin separating bills and see what I ended up with.
A good shift to me was anytime I had over $100 profit. These were easy to do for Mariners and Seahawks games and took some REAL work when you’re just going up and down the waterfront or through Pioneer Square.
With any job I always think whether you had fun or enjoyed what you were doing depends on who you are working with and who you are serving. This job was no exception. There were some awesome people pedicabing and some cool stories from customers I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. People like talking and there is no better place to let someone talk as you are trying to catch your breath peddling them up a small incline…
The night usually ended eating some bbq duck and/or drinking a cloudy beer. To end the night I’d bike the 6-8 miles back to my place of residence back then. Good shape I was in (compared to today me).
Unfortunately, a new pedicab driver had a tragic accident and at least one life was lost. This brought up city politics and the person who’d I’d been renting from moved on after this tragedy. This is about the time I also moved on from pedicabbing as well but always hold this time in my life in high regard even though at the time I was too immature to truly appreciate it. I often wonder what would have been of me had I stuck this out or ventured into buying my own cab had things been different?
How Did this Shape Me
I suppose it shaped me in a lot of ways, but sticking strictly to my career it helped me get out of my shell. The reason the guy, at the interview I initially had was so skeptical of me being a pedicab driver was because I was a shy soft-spoken kid. In this line of work you have to put yourself out there, literally. After pedicabbing I went to barista work and a bit of food service on the side. I don’t think I wouldn’t picked these jobs up as fast or been as successful had it not of been for this experience.
Above all, I got to learn about Seattle. I got to meet all of its citizens. From the out-of-towners that came to the games, to the houseless people eating a Food Not Bombs lunch on a Sunday, to the hot dog vendor cart owners outside of the stadiums. I got to meet and hear so many people’s story in a short amount of time.
So in the end the Bat Cave will always hold a prestigious grip on my heart. We are but the experiences that brought us to where we are.