My experience pedicab driving during the Assemblies of God General Council convention at the OCCC in Orlando, FL from 8/6 – 8/9/2013.

Assemblies of God General Council banner.

This wasn’t the usual convention. Attendance was announced at 30,000 and that can easily be misinterpreted as it being super busy with a shitload of rides but after working it, I’d say more than half of that number consisted of teenagers that were in large groups and most other attendees weren’t driving themselves around. Most people were getting around via some sort of shuttle or were being dropped off. That meant very little foot traffic and for what was there, the groups were too large for the number of pedicabs that worked the event.

It’s a good thing too many pedicabs didn’t show up based on the attendance number, and that’s happened many times in the past to their disappointment, because there was just enough business to keep the small number of pedicabs that worked the convention somewhat busy. I say somewhat because there were some long stretches when there were no rides at all. Lunchtime is when it was busiest. Most rides were to and from McDonald’s. I tried to arrive early on each day but wasn’t able to get myself out of bed in time. I arrived around 11am on each day and based on conversations from other drivers, that was the ideal time to get there because as the days went on, rides in the West Concourse parking lot increasingly became nonexistent.

On the first day, since no one had ever worked this event before, it was a learning experience. With West Concourse conventions, you always have to go in with no expectations for new shows because of the lay of the land. If something is going on in the middle of the building, Hall C, that’s usually not a good thing. In Hall A or B, depending on many variables, it can be good. In Halls E and F, it’s hit or miss. Assemblies was mostly in Halls A and B and that’s where people exited most but on each day, there weren’t many people exiting on foot. Most people had some form of transportation that came to them. We deduced after the first day ended, after wasting energy riding around looking for rides, that almost all rides were gonna come from Hall A so that was the best place to stage. Most rides were short so the tips weren’t gonna be fantastic although there were a lot of good ones throughout the days. And since groups consisted mostly of teens headed to Mickey D’s, we’d either have to take large loads on one pedicab or split them up.

We really had to work together for this convention. There were some new, inexperienced guys that came along and that means they have to be taught how things work. Mainly, they had to be taught how to get a ride when they were in first place. One of them was a good learner, the other didn’t put in any effort to get rides. When you don’t put in the work but I do when I’m behind you and someone comes to me, I’m taking that ride. That’s how I operate. If you’re putting in work and someone comes to me first for whatever reason when I’m behind you, I’ll pass them up to you because I know you’re trying. Respect is what it’s all about. You try, you get rides. You don’t try, you don’t get shit from me. I want everyone to make money but you gotta earn it.

Cop blocking crosswalk.The next two days came along and with more knowledge about the convention’s format, they were both much better days than the first. We didn’t know McDonald’s was the hot spot. The lines were super long at that joint to the point of being ridiculous. You couldn’t just get in and get out. You were gonna be waiting for at least 30 minutes just to approach the cashier. On the first day, we didn’t factor any of that in and ignored the fact that people we dropped off might want a ride back. We thought Hall A would be the definitive source for rides. It wasn’t. After lunch on the first day, we waited and waited. The next two days, instead of waiting for something that wasn’t coming, we ventured out to get return rides from the Mick and other places. In my case, I had to wait for a cop to move his ass before I could proceed because he was blocking the sidewalk and crosswalk. You’d think they of all people should know better but it happened twice! The other time was an FHP officer. Cops want our respect but they don’t even follow the laws they’re paid to enforce.

There were never more than 5 pedicabs staging at one time. Some waited at Hall A. Some at the Mick and the nearby restaurants. Some worked I-Drive. After lunch, you had to go out and work for your money. It wasn’t gonna walk out of the Hall A doors. After the lunch rush was over, you didn’t really have much choice on any day but to wait at Hall A. There was an exhibition on each day but it didn’t seem like people were there primarily for that because when it ended, there was a very slow trickle of people coming out. Rather, there were tons of vehicles coming in dropping people off for other things going on. Once we saw that on day one and it repeated on day two, we knew around that time it was time to go home. Not all of us did though.

Turns out there were evening worship services and that’s what attracted most people to the event. There was overflow parking at the South Concourse in the day but it never filled up to anything significant because there was a shuttle bus available for the very few people that parked there in the day. I heard that there were rides for a short amount of time in the early evening from the nearby hotels but that wasn’t figured out until the second and third days. Those that worked later in the evening for the exit of the worship services said it was only okay. Being that it was nighttime, it wasn’t as hot out, and people needed to get the blood flowing again after sitting for so long in a cold building, that doesn’t surprise me.

I discovered something on the last day that no one else knew about. The last day was much slower than all the other days but it still turned out good only because of my discovery. Since a lot of people were showing up for the evening worship, turns out a lot were coming in by car and parking. The West parking lot filled up quick so they started parking at the South. I was getting ready to pack it in at the beginning of the evening worship because I didn’t think there were anymore rides to be had and I was the last driver who worked in the day to leave. I saw some cars going into the South and decided to check it out. I waited for a little while to see if it was gonna be a few cars or a lot. It was a lot. The problem was that shuttle. It waited until it was full to leave but when it did, that’s when people chose me to get to the West and that process repeated when the shuttle returned. I got some really good rides out of it and had it all to myself.

At least for next year or whenever it returns, if it does, now it’s known how and where to make the money for this convention. Some shows you know are gonna be good because they always are. For the new ones, even when you’re skeptical, sometimes you gotta give it a whirl so you’ll know firsthand if it’s gonna be good or not. Many times, you gotta figure out where the rides are and that takes experience. You can’t just give up if it’s not busy because rides are usually somewhere. At the same time, you don’t wanna waste your time or energy because sometimes it’s just deadly slow and you gotta know when it’s time to go home.

DAV van at Hilton.

During the many slow periods of Assemblies, you had to find a place to stage. There was another convention going on at the Hilton for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). I didn’t get many rides staging in the front of the hotel when a lot of them were leaving for lunch but I did get some when they wanted to return to the hotel. On Saturday August 10th, President Obama was gonna be speaking to them. I chose to work the Hilton instead of another event because I knew that’s when most of the people attending that convention would be there. Since these were old and disabled people, I knew they’d take rides. But since it was the president speaking, that meant high security and all of my usual spots were blocked. I didn’t anticipate that. There wasn’t a ride to be had. Couldn’t pick up. Couldn’t drop off. It was time to go home.

Obama protesters.

There were protesters along I-Drive. Every single one of them was white to no one’s surprise. I asked a cop when they’d open things back up but he couldn’t guarantee what time the prez was gonna leave. They could only reopen everything when he was gone. If there was a definite timestamp on his departure, then I would’ve stuck around because I know after the speech, hordes of people would’ve exited the hotel. I could either wait for nothing or go home and do something productive. I chose to leave. Assemblies was a good working experience but I’d recommend that the adults and parents do a better job of teaching their kids to be more honest and stick to their word which I know many people have a problem doing these days. I didn’t get paid as agreed for more than one ride with teen passengers. Just because it’s a church convention doesn’t mean a damn thing apparently. DAV was also a good learning experience because it taught me not to ignore the smaller, non-OCCC conventions in the area. Overall, money was made and experience was gained. I don’t think anyone would complain about that. In case you’re wondering, hell no I didn’t take any rides up that hill in front of the Hilton!

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