Saturday, February 21, 2015


disclaimer: i wrote this like a couple of weeks ago. This week I've worked my first few shifts riding pedicabs here in New Orleans. It's been a slow start, thanks to cold wet weather. Yesterday my last ride was this older gentleman and I just took him a few blocks up Decatur from Jackson Square, up towards the CBD. He was kind of having a hard time getting in and out of the seat, and I was looking out for him, making sure he got in okay, moving so he wouldn't have the gutter puddle to navigate, asking him about his day, that sort of thing.

As he was leaving, he asks me, "Why do you drive the bike?" I stammered, thinking, uh, that's how the machine works, you pedal it, that's what makes it go, you know. "You can't do nothin' better?" Now I get it. He was probably thinking, what a waste, or something. I answered him as honestly as I could, unprepared. I work outside in the summer, up in the mountains, and this is great for me for the winter. 

So I thought more about these machines, these riders, this city. And the greater context, too. 2015.

In an increasingly disconnected world, pedicabs, to me right now, feel like a different way. I think of the image that Richard Louv references: the car pulls into the driveway, the garage door goes up, the car pulls in, the garage door goes down. 

I don't care if that guy thinks it's a waste. What am I, nothing but strong legs, healthy lungs, a friendly disposition, and enough smarts to quickly learn my way around a brand new city? That sounds all right. I'm riding around the greatest city in the world, moving people around, with the wind on our faces, the sun on our backs. They're usually smiling a lot more than people in cars. I'm weaving between carriages drawn by mules, streetcars, buses, tourists, clowns, priests, workers, Mardi Gras Indians, everybody. Music drifts by, jazz bands, kids playing rock and roll, the saxophonist near Cafe du Monde who is always playing A Few of My Favorite Things, the sweet-voiced girl with dark dreads who I always catch singing Red Rocking Chair.

So no, I am not embarrassed by this job. It's a really cool job. I've never lived a life so independent from the fossil fuel economy. I've never talked to so many people every day, quick jokes exchanged in the streets. I don't have to pay for a gym. This is a really different way, but I feel I'm still holding space for nature, the outdoors, and real living doing this.

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