Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year Pedicab Scramble

This is the calm before the storm. I'm riding the pedicab. It's busy, but I'm wondering when the insanity will truly begin. I've heard 10pm. The night started rough. I was on a spare cab because the rear timing chain was broken on my usual bike. These bikes are old pieces of shit. I'm not being mean: they are total shit. The steerer tube of the $20 Pyramid brand shitty fork broke. Snapped right off, because the headset is loose, and there are about 10 spacers on it instead of zero, 'cause nobody wanted to buy a hacksaw and cut off the extra threads. There are no back brakes, so the full force of a loaded pedicab is slamming on a shitty fork built for a normal bicycle - and it's a shitty fork even for that. That means I was lucky not to lose my face. Seriously bad news, and this has happened before to my friend Mateos. On this bike. I was way out by the Casa Marina Hotel. I had nothing to steer with. I jogged and pushed from behind the cab with the fork turned backwards so I could 'steer' by turning the entire cab - if I kept up enough speed. Not easy. Once I got back to Duval St, my Serbian hero - Goya - gave me a lift while I 'steered' holding top tube and riding in the passenger section. He even picked up a fare going the same direction! I shared the back with a couple from Alaska. Back at the shop I very carefully - very, very, carefully - stole the back timing chain from that spare bike, and got my usual green machine back on the road. There are no spare chains, and I've never changed one of these types of chains. The theory is the same as a normal chain, but this chain is extra wide, and the cage plates are extra thick. It also takes a chain tool I'm not familiar with, that Anthony (pedicab guy) miraculously owns and keeps at the shop. I took my time and very calmly and meticulously took the 18 year old chain from the broken bike and transferred it to the green machine using a hammer, pliers, and that chain tool. I knew full well the whole time that if I fucked up just one link on this ancient chain, I would lose hundreds of dollars for the night. I got on the road at 6:30 with a feeling in my chest of explosions of relieved awesomeness.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


It's 7:21 - I'm driving an empty pedicab. Probably daydreaming about bullshit.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Low on blood

I'm situating myself in my van. It's my night off. I'm passing my laptop and electronics bag to the back, and my curtain clip just came off. Just before the beeping I mumbled "fuck you, fuck you, fuck you" to myself. Not with any anger, but just a mild scolding frustration. I'm light headed. I donated blood for some snacks and a movie ticket this morning, and I'm just now feeling how I should be more careful after donating blood. I haven't eaten enough - just a burger and fries - and I had a couple beers, which can dehydrate a man. I was warned about that. So I'm back at the van to sit for a minute and make some easier plans, cause I almost passed out on Duval St. about 10 minutes ago. I have a free coffee from Kevin who works at the info / tourist booth connected to Denny's. I'm having that, water, a peanut butter bagel sandwich - then finding a place to cook some food and listen to an iPod. Couscous. That's the current plan.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas at Wendy's

It's Christmas, I'm working, and it's not a very high-dollar pedicab day. I'm taking a break in front of Wendy's. I got a $1 crispy chicken, and a $2 small chili. I'm hungry as hell, but going light because there is usually free pizza sitting around somewhere on Duval or a side street, and I always find it because I'm always circling. Starvation is not likely in Key West. In about two seconds I will give solid, accurate directions to Ernest Hemmingway's old house. So far I've got seventeen bucks in my pocket.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mooshy Cookie

I'm sitting on the back (passenger seat) of my pedicab in front of a coffee shop toward the ocean side of Duval. I have a coffee and a big cookie. A peanut butter cookie. The coffee shop was technically closed, but the door was wide open. The man behind the counter was very nice. Friendlier than most - which I've found is not at all uncommon in Key West. He gave me the coffee for free, and asked for $1 for the cookie (marked $1.25). So I'm sitting here breaking off pieces of the cookie, which is extremely moist to the point of falling apart and being extra delicious. My last customer was generous, and kept peeling off bills until I was holding $65. I paid the pedicab rent already.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Awesome Sunday

I'm riding toward Front St, and I already have $100 in my pocket. I "paid the rent" within about one hour of riding. We call making $100 'paying the rent,' and on a slow night we'll ask each other "did you make the rent?" Or we'll say "I made the rent in an hour!" This quick cash flow is a good indication that I'll be having a lucrative evening of pedal-work. When you get money fast, you are in a good mood, and when you are in a good mood you have confidence, and when you have confidence people seem to sense it and they are ready to get in your pedicab and give you big tips. Conversely, if you make $0 for 5 hours, people can sense that you want to shoot yourself, and they stay out of your pedicab to avoid issues of mess and crossfire.
[ed note: $270 night = rent + past 2 days rent + $100]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More of the same

For a Saturday night, this is pretty slim pedicab work. I pay $100 to rent the cab each night that I work. I work every day except Wednesday and Thursday. Last night I made $63, so I owe money after many hours of work.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Somewhat dismayed

I'm pedicabbing toward the ocean side of Duval at about US-1/Truman Ave. I've been out for hours, and haven't made $0.10. I'm anxious for this money that I hear I'll be making soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Toward the Keys, happy as pie.

I'm 75 miles from Key West, headed south, driving my new van. I have a Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino from the Circle K, where I just got a full tank. The coffee is in my right hand, resting right above my knee. My driving hand is on the wheel. I have the cruise control set at about 50, and the combination of all of these details makes me a very happy and content man.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Delirious at Staples

I'm in or around Clearwater Florida, pacing around, tired to the core, talking to my mom on my cell phone. I have a package of clips in one hand that will cost $3.19. My mom and I talk about things and my status for 28 minutes while I pace around, happily delirious. The clips are to be used to hold up a makeshift curtain, which I don't yet have, so people can't see me in the back of my van, which I just purchased an hour ago.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Need a ride?

I'm pedaling the pedicab at Duval and United waving to a girl in her twenties or so who is talking to her mom. The girl is talking about a TV something-something, and it seems unlikely that they are going to need a ride. I'm correct. They do not.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wild for the Conch Train

There is a Conch Train full of tourists wearing Santa hats, waving and calling out. I ring my bell repeatedly and make a hooting and yelling ruckus as I pass going the other direction. This is typical. But this time my watch beeps.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pumkin Spice vice

I'm pushing the button which dispenses Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino from a whirring machine at the Circle K on Duval St. In my mind - in a lazy daydream - a played out scenario, I am saying this reminds me of home. In reality, it does not. It reminds me of Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino only.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Talking to Tom

I'm sitting with my pedicab outside the CVS by Duval and Front St. talking to Tom, who has cycle-toured 23 countries and subs 'suck' and 'shoot' for other more popular curses.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Vehicle meetings

I'm riding out to Truck House, which is still parked on Stock Island getting an electrical problem fixed. Beer, iPod, sweatshirt. That's what I'm retrieving before I head back into town, or the beach, or wherever my bike ends up with me on it. I just ran into Seth outside the tattoo shop on Stock Island. The tattoo shop is next door to the truck repair shop, so our vehicles are close enough to wave to each other. We chatted a bit, then he and the tattoo artist went back in to put more birds on Seth's leg. I headed toward the truck, and my watch started beeping.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

ed note: on pedicabs

I'm going to break the mold here, and admit to writing this on the 10th. I don't know where I was, but I was driving the pedicab again. The pedicab is a real trip. It's a great source of 7:21 info, but if I don't write down the specifics it all blends together. I'm pretty sure I was driving around the couple with the baby and I told them that I'm planning to go to law school next. I've thought about law school, so it's not a complete lie. I'm definitely going - but I just need to use their bathroom.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pedicab again...

Now I'm headed east on Duval from Front St. No passengers.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pedicab again

I'm coming up to the same exact intersection as yesterday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First pedicab night

I'm driving around a pedicab, and it's my first night on the job. I'm pointed west on Duval St. I'm stopped at a red light across from the place where I'd previously purchased a 16oz beer in a brown bag and asked about the specifics of the public booze laws. My phone rang, and I was very happy to see that Mary was calling me. I answered, rang my little bell for her, then hit the lower right-hand button on my watch because it was beeping.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Walking with beer

I know I usually write this in the present tense, but I'm not sure exactly what was up at 7:21 last night. I was somewhere walking with a beer in a bag. LEGAL here. I only had one beer and I walked around for a good amount of distance and time. I need a better way to kill time, and that's what I was thinking. I still don't belong here. I talked to Mike Bradley on his birthday, and it cheered me up some.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Convenience store

I'm in a convenience store. I've been looking for free wifi, and I stopped to get a beer. I bought the beer. $1 even for a 16oz Milwaukee's Best Light. Not a killer deal. I saw that what is probably the bathroom says "out of order." I've seen this trick before. After I buy the beer, I use my friendliest inquisitive-effeminate soft voice - head slightly cocked - "would you happen to have a restroom I could use?" Yup. Coming out of the bathroom I notice there is a "cycles trader" catalog. I'm thinking it's bicycles. Then my watch beeps. I pick up my beer, thank the guy, and leave.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

AIDS memorial, bicycle, booze

It's my first night in Key West. I've spent hours - hours - walking around and exploring. I stopped back at Truck House to lay down for a minute. It was hot as hell and smells like cheap wood and paint. I got up, got my jacket with my weed in it, the rest of my Old Crow, and my city bike. I headed down the street to the AIDS memorial, where there's a long pier. I only spent a minute, while my watch beeped, because my heart wasn't into this plan.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

South of Cocoa Beach

Truck House is in southern Florida. I'm pulled over at a rest stop, and taking a break in the back. It's warm! I just replaced my pants with some shorts. I've got the main RV door open, so the RV screen door is in full effect. I just got off the phone with Nat about a minute ago. I was glad he text'd me, cause it's great to talk in the midst of a big weird transition like this that's all new and up in the air. I'm chugging along pretty good. Shorts are nice. 7:21 came at a happy moment today.