He’s got legs
On a recent cold night, après-cocktail at Grange, I was facing a long walk home in high heels. A nice-looking young man in a strange contraption pulled up next to me and offered a ride. “How much?” I daintily slurred. “It’s free, for tips,” he answered sprightly. Next thing I knew I was on a giddy joy ride, ensconced comfortably in the back of a pedicab, whisked homeward solely through the power of Jake Wallin’s muscular thighs. I caught up with him later to ask about his job—and his thighs.
Describe your job.
I’m a bicycle-taxi operator, a pedicab driver or a bicycle-limousine operator.
When did you start doing this?
I’ve been involved with the company for about six months now. … It’s taken about that long just to adapt to the change in the job. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve been able to do it for any substantial amount of time. It just takes too much effort to ride a shift any more than a couple of hours.
How long is a typical day’s work?
It’s up to whoever is riding. Pretty much as long as I can stand it.
What time does business pick up?
We usually don’t start until around 9 [p.m.], and then we stop at last call or a little bit after. We’ve tried to ride during the day, but it seems like most people are embarrassed to get on the rickshaws in the middle of the day when all their co-workers can see them. … We tried to fix that problem by putting the shells on the back of them, the covers, so that they could kind of hide, but it only worked slightly. It’s just too much effort, because the shells scoop up all the air like a parachute, so it’s just a lot harder to ride.
Where’s your favorite spot to ride?
It varies a lot. It depends on the mood, and a lot of times particular areas will have a zeitgeist. It sounds strange, and it sounds romantic and fantastic, but at the same time it really seems pretty true when you’re out riding that within a couple of blocks you’ll get a lot of the same responses emotionally from people. Certain people will just be aggressive on particular nights in an area, or there will be people … there’s just a lot of crazies out. Especially when it’s raining.
How much should we pay you?
That’s the hardest thing about doing it … there’s no security. You can’t say, “I’m going to go out six hours tonight and make $10 an hour.” If I come home with $80 or $90, I’ll feel pretty good. But I’ve definitely come home with more than that and I’ve definitely come home with a lot less than that.
Who are the typical riders?
Definitely couples. In the window of time that we’re riding around, it’s usually people who are dressed up to go out to the clubs.
Women in high heels?
Oh, man, women in high heels make up a third of our customers.
Are you getting totally in shape?
Yeah, my upper leg muscles and my hip muscles are really big. Your whole body just rearranges itself. It’s something that the other drivers and I have talked about. … I make it sound a lot cooler than it is. I’m totally not ripped; it’s pretty much just my upper legs.
Longest ride you’ve ever done?
This past New Year’s, me and one of the other riders rode for a pub crawl. We rode all New Year’s Eve day, going to various clubs, and then from about Cesar Chavez [Plaza] we drove people who were at the pub crawl—and the keg that they bought out on the pub crawl—back to [Sacramento State]. … It was intense. You get kind of delirious by the end of it.