I flew into Newark, New Jersey. This wasn’t my first time visiting New York City, but I find getting from any airport in the NYC area into Manhattan a challenge. My daughter — an avid traveler, an expert mass transit user, and at that time, an NYC resident — gave me instructions not to hop in a cab, it would take too long and be too expensive. Just take AirTrain.
So that’s what I did — I disembarked from my plane and then bought an AirTrain ticket with a transfer onto NJ Transit that would take me direct to Manhattan’s Penn Station. My daughter’s apartment wasn’t far from Penn Station, so she said, just take a taxi.
That is where my adventure began. I was feeling so excited and proud of myself that I successfully navigated the transit system, only to have my excitement squelched by seeing the length of the taxi queue. Then from the corner of my eye I spot a Pedicab. The driver saw me and yelled, “Where are you going?” I gave him the address and he exclaimed, “I can get you there in the same time, and save you money, hop in…”
Without a lot of thought, traveling with one piece of carry-on luggage and my cross-over bag, I stepped on. Before I was barely sitting down — the carry-on placed on the floor by my feet, and cross-over bag still crossed over — the driver took off pedaling while standing. I felt a bit of a jolt and a bit like I was in some cartoon. Holding on to the side of the cart, I felt the swoosh of vehicles as they zoomed past so close to my hand, I nearly thought cars would injure my hand. I quickly pulled my hand inside, reached down and secured my carry-on on the floor, and clutched my cross-over with both hands.
The driver never stopped, not even at the lights at the intersections. He merely just slowed ever so slightly, maneuvered right and left, through multiple intersections, and on we went.
My mind was racing with thoughts: have I just taken my life in my hands, will we get hit by a car, or a bike, or run into a person…
Then I thought, a picture. I knew I needed to pull my phone out and take a picture, not drop my phone, not lose my phone, but I must take a picture. I carefully reached into my bag, pulled out my phone and snapped a couple shots (albeit jostled shots), then carefully slipped my phone back into my bag and zipped it tight so nothing would fall out.
The driver was fearless and funny. He joked, yelled at cars as if he always had the right of way, and even tried to have a conversation with me. I remember saying at one point, “Don’t worry if it takes longer, you can slow down or even stop at the lights…” It was as if my words were just floating from my mouth into the sky and never reaching his ears.
We finally arrived. For what seemed like an hour was actually 15 minutes. I took a breath, pulled out cash, paid him and before I took a step toward my daughter’s building, he was off. I wondered who the next person would be to hop onto the NYC rickshaw.
That evening at dinner, I told my daughter the story. Her comment, “What were you thinking?” My response, “I always wanted to hop in one and go for a ride, today seemed like the right day.”