When I got there around 16:00 this afternoon, D (the boss) informed me that we'd scrapped both the normal routes (G-ville and the beaches) for the Super Bowl and so were basically running like taxis, taking people wherever they needed to go - which, in 95% of the cases, was downtown. I panicked a bit at first - I don't even like driving downtown in a normal car, let alone a 22-foot van - it's full of one-way streets, poorly marked areas, and weird lane run-outs. I hadn't expected to like the job much in the first place, and this was really pushing the limits.
But I went along with it - M (a co-worker) drove a couple of people downtown and took me along so I could familiarize myself with the route a little. I'm not sure this really benefited me, because (to add to the normal confusion) the police were barricading road after road as the night wore on, so I had to basically throw the original plan out the window and just thread my way around and hope I got lucky. Sometimes I did - I was able to let 4 half-drunk guys a little older than me off right in front of the Landing, and got a $10 tip - and sometimes I didn't - a barricade was positioned in the wrong place and I ended up having to back the enormous van down a teeny street and turn myself around. And the traffic, needless to say, was HORRIBLE. I sat on Forsyth (a one-way street running east along the river) for literally an hour at one point, creeping along, trying to get to a pick-up point.
But anyway, I ended up really liking the job. Now that I've had the chance to sort of 'explore' the van on my own, I'm much more comfortable driving it than I was during the training. And I've discovered that I'm really good at engaging people and getting them to talk - I heard some good stories, met some neat people (two CBS employees from L.A., an ex-NFL player, etc.), laughed a lot, and got $28 worth of tips to boot. The only part I don't care for is the vehicle maintenance (the pre- and post-trip sheets we have to fill out, cleaning the vans inside and out and checking all the fluids and details). I know they're necessary, and I'm not saying we shouldn't have to do it, but it's really not much fun. That and the preppy uniforms - black pants, black vest, and pinstriped shirt. Ah, well, can't have everything. At least I whined until D said I could wear my own black pants instead of the ill-fitting company-issued ones. A vast improvement!
But it's funny to think how my opinion of it changed so much in such a short time. R called me while sitting in her car at the O'Connell Center after the swim meet (I watched the first hour, then had to leave; she stayed for the whole shebang plus did some massaging afterward, and so was just leaving as I was already starting work) while M was driving and I was watching, and sympathized with me while I sighed and complained. (Her advice: "Ohhh, you're going to be driving a lot of drunk people. Take some plastic bags for them to puke in!") But then once I got to take the van out on my own - no matter how nervous I had been - I suddenly started having fun. And this was the 'trial by fire' - because if I can make it through downtown Super Bowl traffic, I can make it through anything!
Anyway, I left there at 2:30; it's now 3:40 and I'm killing time by writing this while my laundry runs. I'm not going to have time to do laundry tomorrow because I have to work again (12:00 - 18:00) so I figure I'll get it out of the way now while I'm still awake. Once I get it into the dryer, I'll go to bed, and just take it all out in the morning.
Happy Super Bowl, everyone!