Scenes from Day One driving a rickshaw

Highlights from my first day driving for Raleigh Rickshaw:

First fare. My first ride, fittingly was Sig Hutchinson, Mr. Mass Transit in the Triangle. Sig, who in addition to being a huge bike advocate is secretary of the Triangle Transit Authority, was crossing Fayetteville Street on his way to a meeting. “I have to be to a meeting in five minutes he said.” I got him there in plenty of time (his meeting was on the opposite side of Fayetteville Street) and managed to catch up on the latest developments in Triangle mass transit. (Story short: The climate is better for mass transit in the Triangle than it’s ever been.)

Love birds. I thought the best part of this job would be getting to ride a bike all day. I was wrong. The best part is the people you meet, people such as Vic and Ginger. I picked Vic and Ginger up on Fayetteville Street, near the courthouse. They were in town from Tampa and had heard about a vintage clothing store that Ginger thought was just off Dawson Street. Turned out to be Father & Son,  run by Friend of GGNC Brian Ownby. On the way over I learned that Vic impersonated the likes of Elvis and Michael Jackson, that Ginger was originally from Gastonia, and that they were crazy in love. After a two-hour shopping spree, I swung back by and took them to the train station. They were a delight; I should have tipped them.

My first fare, Mr. Mass Transit Sig Hutchinson (holding the bag) with Mr. Downtown, Greg Hatem and Mrs. Downtown, Samantha Hatem (a fellow refuge from The New & Observer).

Today’s dilemma. In my day job here at GGNC, I encourage folks to be as active as possible. That includes taking a walk over lunch — especially on the first 70-plus day of the year. So there I was, pedaling through downtown trying to talk people out of walking and riding in my rickshaw.

My shortcoming as a rickshaw driver. No one was more smitten by today’s weather than me: I just wanting to ride, ride, ride. People would wave to me, I’d wave back. Then it occurred to me: Maybe they’re waving because they want a ride. Need to work on that.

Friendliest city in the U.S. I’ve lived here 18 years and I’m still in awe of what a universally friendly place this is. I was reminded of that yet again today by the folks who, understandably, preferred to walk, yet were unfailingly nice and polite in declining a ride.  Made me realize I wouldn’t last an hour doing this in most any other city.

Catching up. Great day for catching up with the old crew from The News & Observer, which is a block off Fayetteville Street and was my employer for 17 years. Thad Ogburn, Joe Neff, Josh Shaffer, John Rottet — good to hear they’re all doing well. (And always entertaining to hear what’s going on behind the gray walls of Raleigh’s gray lady.)

On pedaling a 175-pound bike for six straight hours. It is a lot of fun. It’ll also wear you out (especially when you’re loaded with 300-or-so pounds of people). I forecast an early bedtime this evening.

Like now.

Top photo: These gals were lots of fun.

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