Scene: A warm evening in New York, me and my friend from Amsterdam (who just casually happened to be visiting me this weekend) were strolling along 6th Avenue until we got to Central Park.
All of a sudden a wild stranger, with a board that had a bicycle drawn on it, appeared shouting: “Hey beautiful ladies! How about a bicycle tour around Central Park?” Now, I am not a stranger to the ‘bike-taxi tours’ in Central Park. Just like everything else in New York they are magnificently overpriced. So I did what any sensible “New-Yorker” would do; I ignored the guy to avoid a possible conversation.
The stranger however threw a curve ball “It’s free I promise!” he yelled as we were calmly but determinedly trying to escape the other bike-taxi riders (who were also trying to manipulate us into going for a ride). My friend, being a true tourist, could not refuse such an offer, she ran up to the guy and was ready and set to jump on the bike-taxi. I however was rather suspicious. Besides chewy bars and political flyers I have never gotten anything for free in New York, it seemed rather sketchy to say the least.
After a short interrogation the bike-taxi guy (let’s just call him Augustus for convenience) and my friend convinced me that he was a Good Samaritan and just wanted to show us around Central Park a little. “Alrighty then” I thought, “A free ride can do no harm”.
To be fair, Augustus really did show us around Central Park – for free. Even though he obviously did have an agenda. On our second stop during the tour he decided to proclaim his love for me. He was determined to propose to me on some bridge and if I refused he would throw me off the bridge. That was a little concerning, so I had to play the imaginary boyfriend card. I kindly suggested that we do not go on a bridge at all – just to be safe.
During the tour I learned more about Augustus’ life and family and his “oh so lavish lifestyle”, than I did about Central Park”. Apparently, he owned the bike-taxi business, along with 3 Ferrari’s and a house somewhere in LA. I know, quite impressive for a bike-taxi rider. He showed us an infinite amount of pictures of random cars. Thanks for that mate, I will never confuse a real Ferrari with your ‘bike-Ferrari’ ever again.
After a while, we suddenly rode out of Central Park which was strange since we were on a tour AROUND CENTRAL PARK. Apparently, Good Samaritan Augustus decided it would be cool to just show us the whole of New York. A little unfortunate that he did not tell us that beforehand, though. Besides the fact that being in a wobbly bike-taxi on a busy road in Manhattan is low-key dangerous on it-self, being in one with a complete stranger aka Good Samaritan Augustus was even more concerning.
A little bit later, we ended up on Times Square, which was actually really convenient! I happen to be living very close to Times Square. This seemed to be a perfect opportunity to actually convince our driver that the tour was lovely, but enough is enough. Augustus was more or less alright with that, and after a while of convincing him that we did not want to go out for dinner, or get our future read by one of his fortune teller friends, or go to some random rooftop that he knew of, we were free to go.
So the moral of this story is kids: Unless you want to be brought to random places with random Augustus’s and have your fortune read by a lady on the corner of 6th Avenue, don’t go on that free bike-ride.