My experience pedicab driving during the Surf Expo and Florida United Numismatists conventions at the OCCC from 1/10-1/13/2013.

Florida United Numismatists convention.

This would be the third time I’ve worked each of these conventions. For the Surf Expo, my goal was to top what I made last year for the January show and I far exceeded even my own expectations on the last 2 days of it. The Surf Expo never takes place on its own since I’ve been working it. There’s always another big convention going on in the same building. The other expos I worked also had home shows going on at the same time. The FUN (Florida United Numismatists) convention on its own isn’t very lucrative to work but combined with the expo, they both filled up the parking lot fully which created a situation where FUN attendees would take rides they normally wouldn’t have since it was a very long walk from where most of them ended up parking.

You can count on getting rides for the expo on its own but the way it was setup this time, in Hall A of both the North and South buildings, that meant their attendees were parking in both the North and South lots since there were 2 ways in; the South Concourse being the busier entrance. The expo seems to be in a different building every time. Last winter’s show was in the North Concourse, last summer was in the South, and this time in both. I’d prefer that it be held in one or the other but not both. That increases the chance of getting rides because there’d only be one way in and one way out. The less exits, the better. For drivers, not for attendees, that is.

I didn’t see any familiar faces for the expo but I did see one for the FUN convention on the last day. The weather for each day was warm. Not hot or humid but it was definitely on the warm side. As busy as it was and for the time of year it is, cooler weather is preferred because us drivers use less energy that way. For last winter’s expo, it was cold and that made life so much easier. There was plenty of business for the number of pedicabs that were out which wasn’t too many and that’s a good thing. That means everyone should’ve made some very good money. Unlike mostly every other convention, it seems Surf Expo attendees know that they can park out on Tradeshow Blvd with no fear of ticketing or towing. I’ve even parked out there myself and yes, it’s totally free parking. Just be prepared for a long walk to the convention center. And no, the vast majority of those people didn’t take rides. Some did but most didn’t. Some FUN attendees picked up on it and started parking out there after the first day. It was obvious that people were either talking or being observant about what was going on.

Each day was about the same except I made more money on the second day than the first and more on the third than the second. It helps that the expo serves up beer to their attendees. Whether it was free or not, I have no idea. On the last day, I saw a downtown Orlando pedicab driver who was attending the show. That was a surprise. He was one of the few that I actually talk to when I’m working there. For the last day of the expo, one guy used my pedicab to load up some big paddleboards to transport them to his car which was off-property. There were plenty of comments and stares and I wish I could’ve gotten a pic of the whole thing. He tipped me good for my services. Remember folks, pedicabs can transport more than just people. In my case, I’ve transported things ranging from dogs to boxes of strawberries and now I can add paddleboards to the list.

Those 3 days of the Surf Expo were fantastic. I had fun, I made a lot of money, and the weather was nice. Now came the big question for guys like me who can double-dip: do I work in downtown Orlando on that Saturday night or not? I had to really think about it because there was still one more day left for the FUN convention on Sunday and last year it was worth showing up for. The expo was so good that I got greedy and chose to work downtown just to pad my bank account even more. There was also another reason: to pay for an out-of-town trip that was coming up. I arrived downtown after 11pm since there was nothing special going on. It was just a regular Saturday night.

3 other drivers who worked the conventions were also working downtown so I ain’t the only one who was greedy. There were a lot of people downtown, and not too many pedicabs, but rides were hard to come by. The rides I did give were well-tipped. I figured for a warm night there’d be a lot of people out, and there were, but I forgot that a nothing-happening night wasn’t gonna generate mega money and it didn’t. I wasn’t able to hit my goal but for the amount of time that I worked, 4 hours, I’m happy with what I made. Nothing exciting, new, or different happened. Nothing new to see. Nothing memorable except for another welcome boob rub from a smokin’ hot chick.

Well, now that I think about it, I guess there were 2 things that happened worth mentioning. On the corner of Pine and Orange, there are some guys who play bucket drums. They attract a crowd on a regular basis and drunks and hoes like to dance around them. You know how some chicks buy high-heeled shoes that no human being could walk in without tripping or breaking an ankle? One chick was wearing some platform shoes, dancing her happy ass off, and almost busted her ass in front of everyone. I ain’t the only one who got a big laugh out of it.

The other thing was when I was staging to pick up a ride on Orange and Central. It was after 2am when the alcohol stopped flowing and for almost everyone, that means fun time was over. Time to go home. That’s when people flood out to the street. One chick decided to shake her ass in front of me (she was wearing a miniskirt), specifically for me, and then she walked away with her friends. Another chick saw what she did. We made eye contact because it seemed we were the only ones who saw what happened, or paid attention to it, and we shared some giggles.

A couple of observations that generated more thought in my head were people who pick fights and older women who are still into the bar and club scene. I wonder sometimes what a person’s motive for hanging out is: to have a good time or to start a fight? That leads to another question: who are their friends and what kind of people are they? What I mean is, if someone is always getting into trouble, they’re likely to hang out with like-minded people who either boost them up (taking a passive approach for their adrenaline rush) or participate in the shenanigans. Either way, no one is becoming a better person when the bad behavior is nurtured. One person’s troubles can turn into your own if you’re a bad picker (meaning you suck at choosing quality relationships). Why get dragged down with them? Why hang out with people who either can’t control their alcohol intake or are always getting into shouting matches or fisticuffs? I don’t get it. I’d never even consider associating with people like that once the behavior presented itself. And as long as people continue these associations, the bad eggs will keep doing what they do and that makes life difficult for us all in one way or another. We need to start cultivating good behavior and stop rewarding bad.

The other observation was the number of older women still out bar and club hopping. I’ve started paying attention to the fact that most of them, if not all of them, I see in that environment are single. They’re either with other cougars or hanging with younger women to try and increase their chances of being noticed by younger men. Kinda like how hot girls always keep a fat friend around to make themselves look better. It’s the same shit. What I haven’t noticed in relation to the topic is older men doing the same thing. I don’t see older men in groups or with younger guys trying to pick up chicks. An excuse I’ve heard from older women is that they don’t like how older guys don’t take care of themselves physically. These are the same women who aren’t spring chickens anymore that no quality man is really attracted to anyway so that’s part of the reason for the popular excuse.

Another is that older guys don’t wanna go out and do anything. When you’ve got kids and bills in a down economy, what’s more important? Sure, you gotta keep the spice alive but these same older women, trust me, they have kids and bills too and set a really bad example. On the male side, it’s probably not much different in that aspect. On top of that, the bar and club scene caters to women by giving them free drinks and admission. And on top of that, if you’re in a relationship and the clubs and bars are where you’re still primarily hanging out together, that’s not really a healthy relationship, is it? Your girl gets free everything but you gotta pay for yours. That shit gets expensive for a guy after a while. No wonder they don’t wanna go out with you if that’s your scene.

The truth is that those same women who complain about older men are the same women that older men don’t want so if they want affection, they gotta turn to the younger guys who, these days, don’t really care who they poke. It’s all about bragging rights and having a high number. So if the older women are still out hooking up with indiscriminate younger men which makes them undesirable to the older men they claim they don’t want, then where are these older men? They’re certainly not where those women are, I can tell you that much. I firmly believe that if you want to attract a certain type then you need to be where those types are which means there has to be shared interests. If the older women are out hooking up, dancing, and drinking as an interest, that still leaves the answer unknown as to where the older men’s interests are. Whether they’re quality men or not, where are they if they’re not where their counterparts are? Finding that answer is gonna require some research and conversations on my end. Apparently, they won’t be happening downtown. I’ll have to do some digging.

I managed to arrive for the last day of the FUN convention in time for when the doors opened but unlike last year where I made a decent amount of money for the 5 hours that the show was going on, this year was terrible and there were only 3 pedicabs working it. It was so bad that I left within 2 hours. It was definitely not what I was anticipating. Good thing more drivers didn’t show up because it would’ve been even more of a disaster. It’s also a good thing I worked Saturday night downtown because I wouldn’t have been happy at all with Sunday’s outcome. I thought I’d be adding to Saturday’s tally but it turns out I should’ve just stayed my ass home.

The number one complaint amongst coin show attendees across all days was that there were more sellers than buyers. Another point that was made a lot was how to get young people interested in coin collecting since it’s mostly viewed as something older people are into. For any hobby to survive, there has to be young blood, and young money, injected into it regularly. Young blood becomes old blood and that’s when income potential is at its highest. So if they’re not getting the young guns now, that spells doom for the industry. It might be at that tipping point now. So how do they get the current generation, and more people in general, interested? Sex and celebrity, that’s how.

No one’s gonna tell me that there are no celebrities that aren’t into coin collecting. The industry needs to find out who they are and use them to promote to a wider audience. And sex, that speaks for itself. At least it should. Go to any trade show anywhere and you’re gonna find, at minimum, one booth with an unbelievably hot chick hawking wares. Why? You know why. Sex fucking sells! That’ll bring out more teenage boys and men, that’s for sure, but once they’re there, then what? That’s when the fun in FUN Topics (that’s what their magazine is called) has to show itself. It has to be relevant to the times meaning technology and social media has to be incorporated somehow. It can’t just be an old white man’s gig anymore.

So you have the name celebrity being used to create awareness of coin collecting. So you have vendor booths instead of just coin sales booths manned by attractive women who hand out literature and create buzz. So you have a more interactive convention experience. All of that means nothing if people have no idea what a numismatist is or why they should get into coin collecting. I had no idea what a numismatist was, hadn’t ever heard the word even once before in my life, until I worked the show for the first time a year ago. I picked some brains and kept my ears open and now I know a little more than I did before about coin collecting and what I knew before was jack shit. I’m not into, nor will I ever be into, coin collecting but the knowledge of it is nice to have. Keep in mind I never went inside to check things out at any of the conventions to gain that knowledge.

To further spread the word about the hobby, numismatists should speak about it at schools and colleges during financial literacy related courses like business, for instance. I remember one attendee who said that because he’s into coin collecting, he always feels like he has money and when you think about it, he’s right. It’s a good way to truly understand the value of a dollar and a different way of learning how money works. I believe the hobby is useful but relevance and appeal may be what’s hurting it. Imagine if they tried some of my ideas. The show was free to attend. If they made it truly fun for all ages, imagine school buses full of kids that’d come to learn about it. Keeping them from swallowing coins would be the only concern. They’d shit it out later, of course, and that means the sewers are probably full of treasures. There’s a field trip for you! Colleges could recommend attendance for extra credit assignments. Vendors like banks and other money related businesses could have hiring booths inside like a job fair. They could even offer an introductory session for people who just wanted to know more about numismatics. Once a person is inside the convention, a free convention, it’s open season. That’s the time to get people interested in something a lot of people don’t have much of, if any: money.

It might be a coin convention. There might be auctions. There might be buying and selling going on. None of that means shit if the average joe has no clue what it is considering that it’s a FREE show! They also need to get more media coverage and that’d probably help the most. When the convention comes to town, they need to be on all the morning shows promoting it. Put ads up on local blogs (like mine since I’d be there working anyway). Place free text ads in classified ads. The options are aplenty. Higher attendance doesn’t just help them but it helps me, too. More people equals more rides equals more money for me. You think I’m suggesting all this shit without thinking of my own pockets? C’mon now, you know better than that. We’ll see what happens at the next big one. Maybe they’ll start doing what other conventions have started doing and that’s joining up with other related conventions to lower costs, and maximize interest and attendance which means more money in everyone’s pockets, not just mine.

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