First, I want to say, there are many reputable and safe pedicab companies and drivers in New York City. There are guided tours, rides through central park – a number of great ways to enjoy a NYC pedicab.
However, that was not what we did. Our pedicab ride was born out of desperation.
How we got here…
I’m in New York City with my two daughters. I’m here for a conference about a Trigeminal Neuralgia – there’s a mouthful – a rare condition my one girl has. The whole trip was supposed to be just the two of us. But husband gets called elsewhere for work, so I get daughter #2 into the whole thing with us. Then daughter #2 sprains her ankle the day before our trip, and she’s also on crutches the whole time. This is pretty much how life goes these days.
We have one day for fun before the conference, and after lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner and (carefully) walking around Times Square one girl needs a restroom. So the hunt begins.
Turns out, a restroom is harder to find than I thought it would be. After several stops with out-of-order or no restroom, we decide to change the plan. Let’s head back to the hotel. We wanted to rest and reorganize before heading out to what we are doing in New York tonight anyway.
An Unexpected NYC Pedicab Ride
We begin looking for one of the bazillion cabs in this city. If we can find one we are only a few minutes from our hotel, but alas, cab after cab is taken. Another two blocks closer to our hotel – did I mention I have one girl on crutches? We’re not exactly breaking land-speed records here – and still no cab has stopped to pick us up. The restroom-needing girl is starting to get that panicky look in her eye.
Then, around the corner comes a pedicab, clearly without fare and seeking one. The girls and I look at each other, the same question on all of our faces, and I hail him. Why not? He’ll probably get us there faster than walking, and nothing else is working for us right now.
So we tell him where we want to go, and he quotes a price. We pile in.
We. Had. No. Idea.
In the name of all that is beautiful, and safe, and comfortable, we didn’t know!
What we didn’t know about this Pedicab? He’s crazy.
Our driver takes off, and all seems fine for about a block. Then traffic starts to back up, which is apparently a personal insult of some kind, because our driver gets a look of consternation on his face, stands up for a better view, and starts weaving in and out of the lanes of vehicles. He is defying all laws of physics and common sense, and our anxiety is growing with each twist and turn.
He cuts left, and a driver yells and gestures out the window at us. He dodges right, and a horn blares.
Don’t worry, I’m sure that delivery truck will stop in time. It will won’t it? Oh my goodness STOP! ACK! WE’RE GOING TO DIE!! I can’t look. Girls, now is the time to brush up on fervent and active prayer and cleanse yourself of all unholiness.
Crosswalk? What crosswalk?! We’ll just mow a few people down as we shoot through – I hear if you can actually spin one around, you get points per rotation.
Red Lights are but a mirage, we sail through unfazed.
The girls and I are gasping, laughing in a nervous shock, and holding on for our dear lives. We take turns muttering under our breath about how we are all going to die, right here in this pedicab, then wincing and squeezing our eyes shut reflexively.
One particularly tight squeeze between two cars that are properly inhabiting their adjacent lanes, and one daughter whips her hand off the outside edge of the pedicab into her lap, looking at me with wide-eyed surprise. “I felt us press by that car!” She mouths to me.
At least it gave us a story to tell
Finally, what seems like three heart attacks later, our “driver” (and I use that term loosely) pulls up by our hotel. We climb quickly out, escaping the jaws of death itself, and hand over the agreed upon fare plus tip. Gladly. Take my money, just let us go! We exchange meaningful glances and keep our mouths shut until we step into the lobby.
As the door shuts behind us we burst out laughing, keeping a hold on Lydia to keep her from tumbling off her crutches. We talk over each other, stopping to laugh and gasp as we make our way to the elevator, then regale our elevator-mates with dire warnings to avoid the pedicabs at all costs.
When we enter our room, two of us collapse on the beds, while the third sprints into the bathroom. Finally. We may all need a nap a few hours of therapy before our evening plans.
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(We’re slow learners)