My experience pedicab driving during InfoComm at the OCCC in Orlando, FL from 6/12 – 6/14/2013.

The OCCC website had a pretty high attendance number for this convention but being that it was taking place at the West Concourse, that number didn’t really mean anything. Working InfoComm would either be hit or miss. From what I’ve been told, it takes place in Orlando every 2 years because it alternates between here and Las Vegas. I was out of the pedicab game for a period of time 2 years ago so I didn’t work it previously and other drivers don’t recall it because a lot of them weren’t around at that time either. For those of us that chose to work it, we were pretty much going in blind. Turns out that big attendance number was accurate and working the convention turned out great.

The preconference and classes started on Saturday June 15th with SynAudCon but I didn’t bother working any days other than when the expo was going on and that started on Wednesday. I did do a drive-through of the back parking lot on a precon day and it wasn’t full but it was full enough that I knew the expo days would be decent. I arrived around 9am on Wednesday June 12th and traffic was a total nightmare around Convention Way because there were no cops on I-Drive directing it. People had to turn into the West only to be u-turned by cops there and sent to the South Concourse parking lot and you could hear the horns honking constantly because people kept blocking the intersection to park behind the West or at the Rosen Centre parking garage. They were also blocking the crosswalk for us pedicabbers to pass on. You wanna see stupid drivers? It doesn’t get much worse than in Orlando.

Traffic was barely moving at that intersection and slowly but surely the South lot started filling up with cars. I didn’t make it out in time to work in the West lot but that’s fine. I wasn’t expecting South to West rides but that’s what the day turned into and I’m sure I’m not the only driver who heard the complaints from passengers about the traffic situation. The thing is, I think it’s up to the convention, not the convention center, to hire cops for that. And I don’t think cops just take it upon themselves to direct traffic when the signals are operational. I could be wrong but it’s not the first time traffic has been backed way up on that section of the strip during a major convention and there hasn’t been a cop in sight to ease the flow.

That first day was one of the hottest days I’ve ever worked. It was so hot and humid that my body felt like it was getting heated from the inside. I imagine that’s what an infrared sauna feels like. In the afternoon was when it was the most brutal. No clouds. No rain. Just sun. I had to take frequent water breaks to stay cool but I was never tired. It was pretty much a non-stop day and it ended as one of the best days I’ve ever had at the OCCC. I have a good strategy for those South to West rides that works to my advantage to maximize income and minimize energy output, especially when it’s that damn hot. Not every driver can handle that kind of daytime heat so there weren’t too many pedicabs out working it. No complaints here.

The next day is when I started feeling the burn. I arrived later in the morning for day two because I was a little tired and couldn’t handle giving rides at the volume I was on day one. It turned out to be a slower day overall for everyone. More people started taking the free shuttle and we were staging for longer periods but at least there was some cloud cover to offer some relief. Day three was even slower than day two. The South lot had very few cars in it and most of those people took the shuttle. Traffic was lighter in the afternoon on day one and wasn’t an issue at all on the following days. The third and last day mostly consisted of airport runs so the taxis are the ones who ate good.

I only got a couple of rides from the West lot on day three because I didn’t arrive early enough but that filled up and dried up quick. Hitting the other spots for rides yielded nothing. Most pedicabbers were staging or riding around looking for rides just like I was. It got to the point that I knew I’d be wasting my time by sticking around so I left within a couple of hours to stop the bleeding. Day one was definitely a day to remember. Day two was still good but could’ve been a little better for me if I had more energy. Day three was a total disaster but it wasn’t completely unexpected based on how things were already going from day to day.

Other conventions have followed the same exact pattern of getting slower from day to day so I wasn’t surprised too much with how the last day turned out. My gut was telling me to stay home but I still had to go out and see for myself how it would be for the experience and for future reference. Now there are some drivers who have working experience with this convention and it was a good one. I didn’t work at night because I was pretty well worn from working in the day. I didn’t see, hear, or experience anything out of the ordinary or unusual so it was pretty much a textbook convention. I will say that l’ll be glad when the fall and winter seasons come back because working in the summer in Orlando of all places can be tough!

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