Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wheel and Grace

Yesterday at 6:45 p.m., I was standing in a taxi line outside Grand Central Terminal, late for an event, when I saw a pedicab roll up — one of those small-but-indomitable bicycle taxis.

I had some extra cash on me, so I called out to the driver. He stopped and I hopped right in. It wouldn't be a terribly long ride — I was only going to 55th Street and 8th Avenue — and considering the length of the taxi line, there was every chance I'd be there soonest on the pedicab driver's leg power.

The ride was scary and great fun, especially when we wove back and forth through traffic. It was the first time I'd had such a novel transportation experience since my maiden carriage ride a year and a half ago.

One tip if you're a woman planning to ride in one of those things: Apply your lipstick before the ride, not during.

The driver told me he was originally from Turkey. He said he'd held his job for a year and a half, and was quitting soon, as he was finishing up his master's degree in financial engineering from Stevens University in Hoboken, N.J.

In answer to a question of mine, he told me that yes, thanks to his job, he could eat anything he wanted, even before bedtime, and not gain weight.

I asked him if he was concerned about the danger of getting hit. He assured me that he was much safer in that regard than his passengers.

I think he is used to being asked to pose for a photo.

Oh, yes — the ride from Grand Central took about 18 minutes, I think. Not bad for rush hour — and we passed pretty much every yellow cab we saw.