Only 2 bad working days out of the 6. That ain’t bad. On Sunday the 28th, I worked Festival Calle Orange in downtown Orlando. It was just me out there. No other pedicab competition. My final tally for the day was almost the same as when I worked Fiesta Medina earlier in the year. I had no competition for that either. I didn’t get to Calle Orange until an hour and a half after it started at 11am. I wanted to give people time to get in, do their thing, and start leaving. There was a slow trickle exiting but a lot more people going in all the way up until a couple of hours before the event ended. It covered many blocks in downtown so finding the sweet spot was kinda hard. At the beginning, I rode all over at every exit and entrance until I settled on one location because rides might’ve been slow there but I got rides where I didn’t at other spots.
I always say stick to the well that gives water so that’s what I did and it paid off in the end. A family showed up for the Caribbean festival that was taking place on the same day at the same time at Festival Park a couple of miles down the street. Man, were they seriously in the wrong place. I steered them in the right direction, though. There was also something else going on at Lake Eola. I don’t remember what it was but I didn’t focus on that. A coldfront moved through and the cloud cover and wind made things a bit chilly but it wasn’t a hardcore front. I still worked through the early evening without freezing my ass off. It got to the point where an equal amount of people were coming and going. I had to find the best exit point. I would’ve thought people would go downtown to the bars afterwards but that didn’t happen.
While staging at the south exit of the event that goes down Orange Avenue, I didn’t get jack. I had to go back to the same area where I was practically all day so I chose well since the vast majority of my rides came from there. I got to hear 95 South perform and they were kickin’ it old school for real. Now that’s some real club, booty shakin’ music. One, they don’t make music like that anymore. Two, they don’t even play those hot old school jams in the club anymore either. Not that I hang out at clubs but I keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening. I saw things from behind the stage. There were a lot of people there watching them perform.
When it all ended, my sweet spot wasn’t so sweet anymore. A large chunk of people were exiting elsewhere so I made sure to get a piece of that. When that ended, I was allowed to ride around inside the event since it was technically over with. Food and merchandise vendors stayed open for about an hour after everything was shut down. Pretty much anyone could’ve came in to eat or buy something and it’s probably encouraged. There were still a lot of people walking around and I snatched up some rides. One ride took me to a parking lot I had went to earlier but I wasn’t able to get any rides from it. Why? Because I was on the wrong side of it. If I knew many hours before what I had found out just then, the day would’ve been that much better.
Overall, I had fun despite it being slow in the beginning. It helped a lot that I was the only driver there. This is one of those situations where nothing was happening anyplace else so why not come out and see what it’s like to work it? The best part for me was being able to ride around inside and see things from a perspective that no one else did. It was like a behind the scenes tour. The day literally took me all throughout downtown from Church Street to Lake Eola to Colonial Drive. It was a good experience for me.
There is one thing that I was kinda pissed about and that was the parking situation. What pissed me off? The fact that there were businesses along Magnolia that had prime parking spots available but they weren’t being used. Man, shit, I would’ve cleaned house on that bitch. Most parking was very far away and as a pedicab driver, that’s to my benefit. But someone with an entrepreneurial spirit could’ve gotten hold of the property owner and made a deal that benefitted all parties involved. One lot was perfectly located and there could’ve been a premium charge for the many spots available. I really wish I would’ve known about that because I would’ve been that guy to make that shit happen. That’s a shitload of money that didn’t get made. Not only would I have been pedicabbing, I’d have hired some people to attend to the lot because everyone would’ve gotten paid very handsomely. When I say a lot of money was lost, I ain’t kiddin’ and it’s a damn shame.
Festival Calle Orange? Success. Next up was the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) convention. Day one on the 30th was great. I got my single biggest tip ever. That monstrous tip aside, it was a typical North/South Concourse convention. Busy in the day, long lull, busy exit. Pretty much textbook for the first 2 days. From what I heard, working at night didn’t yield much of anything along I-Drive. The first night, I went home. The second night, I went to work in downtown Orlando. A former pedicab driver told me about what it would be like and he was partially right.
On Halloween night, after dropping off some guys at a hotel, a representative from Haggan Aviation was handing out some flashing red devil horns in front of Pointe Orlando. They were pretty cool and I took one because I knew it’d work to my advantage downtown. I was still on I-Drive on my way back to my car at the time. I was already having problems with the spokes on my bike but it was still able to last through the night. At least that’s what I hoped. I didn’t wear my horns upright like they’re supposed to be. I wore mine facing forward like Hellboy. It just felt more natural and looked cooler to me. U know, cuz um cool like dat.
I got downtown rather early, that’s for god damn sure. Too damn early. Things didn’t hit until around 11pm. It was very similar to working the previous Saturday night where the streets were crowded with people in costume. Unlike then, I’ve never seen that many people flooding into downtown before. I know the parking lot and garage operators had to make a killing. People were parking further away than I’d ever seen for anything going on downtown. It was a madhouse. Church Street was the hotspot. Loitering on Orange Avenue was the next biggest thing. The cover bands playing on Church Street, well, I’ve heard better.
The spokes on my bike got to the point where I couldn’t take anymore passengers safely so I had to lose an hour and a half to go home, get my backup bike, and get it ready to ride. When I got back, another driver said I didn’t miss much because most people were simply loitering. It was after midnight but still relatively early. One thing you gotta know how to do in this business is be observant. When you see a driver continuously getting rides, more rides than you or anyone else, then you gotta find out where they’re getting them from. You can either follow them or pay attention to where they’re going. That’s what happened to me before my bike broke down. A lot of us were staging and no one was really getting any steady rides but one driver was moving kinda fast after I noticed where he went to get a pick up. After he dropped off, it was as if he was in a hurry. We don’t move like that unless there are rides to be had.
I didn’t continue staging like the other guys did. I followed him and lo and behold a whole shitload of people walking towards downtown because they had to park in a far away lot. I’m talking wall to wall people. We were both getting our rides. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to keep getting more. I know he had to clean house on that one since he discovered it. This was a perfect example of the power of observance. It’s the difference between a good night, an okay one, and a bad one. My night still turned out pretty damn good despite my bike issues. I was the only one capable of double-dipping since I’m able to transport my pedicab and have the proper permits. Day 3 of the NBAA was terrible. I only stuck around for 3 hours before bouncing. It was the last day and everyone was headed to the airport just like what happened with the NPE convention. I had better things to do with my time like getting my primary bike fixed.
NBAA and Halloween night in downtown O-town? Success. My bike was back in business on Friday. I wish I had worked downtown but forgot that there was a Magic game that night. Those tend to be decent nights. I knew the 3rd was gonna be a great night with The Who performing at the Amway Center. I originally planned to work Fiesta in the Park that day but overslept. I got downtown way too early because I thought the concert started at 7pm when it was really 30 minutes later. The entrance wasn’t really that busy but I got some damn good tips for the rides that I gave. There really weren’t that many people going in compared to other big concerts but I saw a pic posted on Facebook by the Amway during the show and the place was packed.
During the lull, with me getting more experience working downtown, I know where to get rides from in the early part of the evening. The concert exit proved the pic to be correct because it was good. In the past, the city shut down the streets around the Amway because of all the foot traffic but lately they haven’t been doing that. This night was also the night to dial back the clocks an hour so that gave us an extra hour of work. Into the morning hours, it looked like a non-event Friday night on the streets. There weren’t a ton of people but those that were out were taking rides and tipping very well. Both concerts, Zac Brown and The Who, were 2 of my best nights working downtown. Not the best but they were up there.
The Who concert? Success. The next day I showed up to work Fiesta in the Park at Lake Eola. Epic fail! I surveyed the area the evening before going to work The Who concert and thought I had it figured out. I didn’t have shit figured out. It was a complete waste of my time. I only got one ride and a security guard there was trying to give me a hard time. Even at the NBAA, someone was trying to give me a hard time. A wise man told me, and he knows who he is, that when I went into business for myself and became a success, bullshit would follow and he was right. Those are words to live by. Haters will come out of the woodwork when you move up in the world. To those people on the right track, you have to include the bullshit factor in your planning because it’s unavoidable. When you’ve prepared yourself for it ahead of time, it really does soften the blow when the bullshit freight train, a train that will be overflowing with shit, comes your way. And it WILL come your way!
Even as I type this, there are some unresolved incidents and situations that have hindered my ability to expand my pedicab business by getting more cabs and hiring drivers. I wasn’t fully prepared and it’s cost me. Notice I say I wasn’t fully prepared. I’ve recovered for the most part although lessons have definitely been learned. Bullshit has slowed down my forward progress this year but it hasn’t stopped it. I have to keep moving forward and I will. And so should you. Don’t let people bring you back down when you’ve risen so far up.
Last week was a very busy week. The temperatures were just right for pedicabbing. The cooler it is, the less energy we expend, the easier it is to work, the longer we can work. The remainder of the year will continue to be a busy one. There was a chick online that questioned why I was a pedicab driver with my educational background. Clearly she was uninformed about what we do and the amount of money we’re capable of making. A guy downtown was asking about how he could become a driver. He didn’t think we made much, referring to pedicabs as “pettycabs,” but for him, it’d at least be something. I told him the truth and that it’s not for everyone. There are those drivers that give us a bad name and then there are the reputable drivers who know what the fuck they’re doing. Like me. Reputation goes a long way. Driving a pedicab ain’t just about hauling people around. That’s why drivers come and go while others come and stay. The ones who just haul people around don’t last long. Here today and quite literally gone tomorrow. Those who understand the psychology, strategy, salesmanship, and other aspects of it, we know what we’re doing. Here today and we’ll be there tomorrow and the next day.