Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strangely New York: At Any Moment You Can Be Taken for a Ride

New York City Midtown Street Scene
By Mitch Broder

My carriage was waiting at the corner of Madison Avenue and 49th Street. I approached, and a sunny woman offered me a free trip through the city. I climbed in. My driver welcomed me and we embarked on our regal journey. It was just the reception that I’d dreamed of to greet my new city blog.

It really happened. All except that the coach was a pedicab that looked like a golf cart, and that the woman was representing Wells Fargo Bank, and that she offered me the free ride because no one else seemed to want one, and that it had nothing to do with my blog outside of giving me this post.

But it was close.

And perhaps it was destiny. Wells Fargo is debuting as a bank in New York. I am debuting as a blogger about New York. Wells Fargo is taking over Wachovia Bank branches. I don’t have any branches. But I have nothing to put in them anyway.

I was en route to one of the old places I’m supposed to be blogging about when I was invited into the pedicab, outside that corner’s bank. I knew it was a corporate promotion, but it was the kind you mostly find in New York. That’s why I bit. And anyway, Wells Fargo is 159.

The cab bore the Wells Fargo slogan, “Together we’ll go far.” My cabbie, whose name was Joaquin, explained why we wouldn’t. The free rides, he said, were limited to three or four blocks. But I was headed to 51st Street, so we’d be going far enough.

It was for the best. Pedicabs can be a little scary, and though Joaquin was a good pedaler, my ride was pretty bumpy. This may have been to simulate the bumps of the old Wells Fargo stagecoaches, or to warn riders of the even bigger bumps they'll get if they owe that bank money.

Still, I enjoyed my trip, and though the Wells Fargo rides have ended, the company that gave them, BicyTaxi, gives free rides for lots of companies. Watch for weird pedicabs and hop in. Ignore speeding SUVs. And whatever your cab says on the side, remember it’s promoting me.

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