Yesterday was Day Five of South by Southwest, also known as “Crossover Day, ” the point in the festival when the tech crowd heads back to Silicon Valley to either celebrate their new VC funding or move back in with their parents, and the music crowd begins to trickle in, armed with dreams, street teams, and not a single lodging plan in sight.
Additionally, and more importantly, it’s the point where you can finally restart your cycle of four T-shirts without anyone noticing, even doing the whole “oh, this old thing?” act when complimented on one, as if you haven’t been Febrezing out its must since first wearing it four days prior.
But while the demographical tide is certainly shifting, there are many constants that remain throughout the 10-day bender:
- Tacos, for example. There will always be tacos to eat.
- New York transplants making disparaging comments about the city of Austin for shutting down at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. The concept simply doesn’t make any sense to us.
You can’t really discuss this festival, and what it does to downtown Austin, without acknowledging the controversial entity that is the pedicab. They’re everywhere. And if you spend enough time here, you start to develop connections with certain ones, for better or for worse.
There’s the Wonder Woman pedicab, the “I’m going to loop the hook to ‘Thrift Shop’ out of my speaker system” pedicab, and of course, THE THRONE:
If you’re a fan of the general premise of diversity, there’s nothing better than pedicabs. Some have blankets, others take mobile payments with Square, and a few actually have places to charge your phone while you ride.
Some advertise for cookies:
Some, inadvertently, for their competition:
And others don’t really advertise for anyone:
Sometimes they calmly travel in their pedicab lanes:
But sometimes there’s traffic:
If you’re reading this and feel as if you’re being lured into some kind of affection for this quirky mode of transportation, know that was not on accident. And know that it was a trap. I wanted you to know what I was feeling as I warmed up to these vehicles so much that I eventually decided to solicit their services.
What happened next was the worst thing that will ever happen to me in Austin.
Running late last Sunday to an event I could’ve walked to, I spotted a passengerless pedicab a block from my hotel. Knowing that this could shave minutes off my trip, I hopped in. Immediately upon sitting down, my indentured driver revealed the first hint that this would be an unfortunate trip for my soul.
“It’s going to cost a little extra, due to the hill.”
Barely listening, I checked to see that I had enough money, and told him it was fine.
And off we were.
The experience of riding in one of these things is not unlike rolling through town on a chariot. And even since B.C. times, I don’t think anyone’s ever been excited to watch someone else travel via chariot. Quite the contrary; I’m guessing humanity’s first case of side-eye was given by a commoner toward some pompous man riding around town on a chariot.
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That's when the notices really started coming in—alerting her that her drivers license was suspended, as was her (already expired) pedicab license, in addition to a warrant for her arrest. The total for the two tickets was also raised to $625.