At eleven last night I got a mysterious text message from a Minnesota area code (huh? what?) asking if I was watching the NYC pedicab episode of The Apprentice. No, I wasn’t. I don’t have a TV (or even an Internet connection at home). However, by googling this morning, I got the rundown: The team of four men made $900 dressing up as gladiators and pre-selling tours around Trump Towers. The team of four women made $300 giving rides on Wall Street. The women’s idea was to use their sex appeal to attract business; hence, one of them said, they went where the men were (“Men” meaning bankers? Last time I looked, men of all descriptions were overrunning Manhattan.). Although one of the women was criticized for not selling any rides, the woman who got fired was the team leader; the reason for the team’s failure, Trump said, was not lack of sales prowess, but poor choice of location.
Amen. There’s a reason why pedicab activity is concentrated in Midtown and Central Park: That’s where the density is, and that’s where the market is. I suppose markets for pedicab service could be developed elsewhere, but that would require identifying a particular gap in the tourism/transport system in that area. Also, I don’t think it works so well to sell based on one thing (sex appeal) when you’re actually selling an entirely different thing (transportation). The women might have done better if they’d dressed as showgirls (sequins, miniskirts, cleavage, cowboy boots), pimped out their pedicabs to look like three-wheeled boudoirs, and set up outside Lace to hawk leisurely drives around Times Square.
I admit, I find it kind of annoying that these women – for the moment the most visible female pedicab drivers in America – chose to focus on sex appeal rather than pedaling. It reminds me of Barbie saying, “Math class is tough!” On the other hand, they did have the guts to get in the driver’s seat and give rides. Maybe they’ll be inspired to drive again sometime.