CHARACTER PROFILE for: "Rickshaw Robby" and "Quiet Mike,"AND- HOW TO: Use Rideshare for Multiple Benefits (including your cash stash)
Making it all the way down to Austin TX from Milwaukee WI with only 300 bucks to get around ain't all that simple, and the major part of pulling it off is the ACTUAL traveling part. So I know your all sitting there like,'Wow, thats exactly correct Joe, how the hell can I pull this off myself?!' and ladies'n gentleman, I'm gonna tell you how to do just that, and have a valuable, interesting, socially redeeming experience too.
I paid $77.50 to get a whopping 1,253 miles! Milwaukee, WI to Austin, TX. 70 bucks for a RIDESHARE to Austiin from Chicago, and 7.50 for me to take the METRA from Kenosha to Chicago. Yes, Craigslist has been known to offer some spotty types of folks, but if you have a couple grams of streetwise, I've found that Craigslist can most definitley be used to your advantage. I have definitely made great use of the RIDESHARE section of Craigslist, and if you have some flexibility on your departure date, theres a good chance you can find a rideshare to your destination. Of course, you have to use some of that streetwise that you've got to make sure that this is a reasonable, semi-sane, good intentioned human being; but between a few e-mails and a few phone calls, you should be able to determine that your rideshare-ee/er is just looking for an affordable, eco-friendly, and socially interesting experience, like you are. Actually, it really dosen't matter why their doing it, as long as there OK company right? Right.
So if you scan the rideshare section as early as possible a.k.a once you know your trying to get somewhere, theres a good chance you'll get a response. You can even post a request for your destination, OR if your looking to save some cash when YOU drive (be it between two cities, between city and suburb, city to state, state to state- you can even find/make arrangements for a regular thing, like if you work in another city every day) these are all wonderful options to be better at traveling creatively and affordably. If your determined enough, you can figure out ways to make this work. For example, when I am in Milwaukee, I usually check rideshares in all of Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago- If I spend 20 bucks getting to any of these places for a good ride, it is certainly going to save me a bunch in the long run. Likewise, if you aren't so far North like Wisconsin is, you can check all the states where people might be traveling through your city from other directions. When me and Brian were in N. Carolina, I was checking all the states North of us that I-90 ran through- it was only a matter of time before I found a fellow driving down to FL. from Phillidelphia (Bill). This was a great deal, because I paid almost nothing except me driving for him to Florida. When traveling becomes a luxury, then people are just becoming lazy- I would love to see the next generation of curious minds use the internet to do more than rot their brain- the more that people embrace and benefit from "rideshare" or similar options; the easier, safer, and more affordable/adventagous they will become.
So the segue from my little rideshare advice/how to section here works organically, because after embarking on my Metra rail ride to Chicago, and then meeting up with my rideshare (a story within itself that will be told when I have the time to depict it properly for you), I had myself a grand social partaking that leads to- of course- CHARACTER PROFILES for two of my latest travel buddys, "Ricshaw Robby," and "Quiet Mike."
RICKSHAW ROBBY was the rideshare I contacted on Craigslist. He was headed down to Austin from Chicago, and he drove a red Jeep Cherokee that did pretty average on gas mileage. This was a ride I couldn't miss, and when I arrived late in Chicago, I found myself running with all the weight of my bag until finally meeting him on the corner of Helstead and Jefferson. I figured if I was running a little late, he would be able to pick me up at Union Station, but I wasn't anticipating that he would be pulling a trailer with a bike peddling rickshaw on it. Because of this, he didn't want to pull the trailer through the hectic Chicago traffic, and I found myself running down the windy streets at 930 am trying to find him at a corner outside the main streets.
I made it there after about 20 minutes of hassle, and hopped into the car breathlessly to find a late 20-something looking dude with long dirty blond hair, a scraggly beard, Labowski-style shades, and a greasy smile. He was tall, slender, and donning a dark green down winter coat that was slightly small on him. I shook his hand while introducing myself, and he in turn, proclaimed himself to be Robby with a jubilant grin.
Seated shot-gun, was a shorter guy wearing a black winter hat with a black hoodie pulled over it, and a red checkered lumberjack coat over that. He had medium length brown hair that protruded a few inches from his winter cap, and his thin facial hair was light texture to his rounded cheeks. He appeared to be another product of the nineties, and I had guessed he was around the same age as me. He extended his arm over his opposite shoulder to shake my hand, while shortly smiling and introducing himself as Mike.
Both guys seemed like grungy, stoner-ish, down to earth people- the salt of the earth as far as I was concerned. I'm sure I was viewed with similar assumptions having my corny foo man chu, and blue-blocker sunglasses- and as we got moving, everyone began to chat excitedly with the satisfaction of knowing we had a seemingly well matched crew.
Robby was headed down to Austin on what he might have called "business," as he was a "pedal cab" driver. His gig was that he rolled around all sorts of cities here in the states, pulling a rickshaw on his bicycle, and taking people where they wanted to go. He would usually determine his destinations based on large events, or attractions- Austin was having its ENORMOUS "South by South-west" (SXSW) music festival in mid-march, so Robby was headed down to Austin a bit earlier to get to know the streets. As it turns out, "Rickshaw Robby" was an experienced Couchsurfer as well, and not only did he give me my first positive reference on the site, but he was able to give me allot of advice on how to get around using on the site. This was going to be my first time doing this couchsurfing thing, so I spent allot of our drive quizzing Robby on different "what-if" situations regarding the whole Couchsurfing system.
As for "Quiet Mike," well, to give him accurate credit, he wasn't really that terribly quiet, he was just quiet compared to Robby. Why he was headed down to Austin was a bit closer to my reasoning, being because I was sick of the cold and just had nothing better to do. He said that he had been staying back and forth between Chicago and Austin for the past few years, and he was just planning on crashing with some friends down in Austin, and looking for a bit of work. Mike rode shot gun all the way until Memphis while I caught up on much needed sleep, so I probably missed out on much of the details about Mike that he might have shared with Robby when talking to him for the first hour.
ALL AND ALL, it was a really great rideshare experience I had with both Rickshaw Robby, and Quiet Mike, but that is to be told another time within the format of the actual story; I just wanted to take a moment to introduce these swell characters to you swell readers. I will say that it was quite an interesting experience, and asides from the awesome stop we had on Beale St. in Memphis TN for gumbo and Blues bars- we also had some difficulties in our tail-lights cutting out on us. AS I SAID, I will put this all into writing for you fine people, as long as your down to read it. Until we meet again...
Joseph R. Reeves