This pages includes 3 stories of The Woman Pedicab Drivers, each page has a story:
The Ride of Her Life: A tricycle fulfills an outlander’s dream
By Zhong Jing Zhen (Tiffany)
When walking across the streets in Shantou, a great many tricycles that have become an exotic feature of this special economic zone will immediately come to your sight.
Among them, one stands out much more in an overwhelmingly male gathering, a woman sits on her tricycle waiting for the next customer. Jiang Xia, from Anhui Province, has been carrying passengers around Shantou for almost two decades to support her daughter and two sons with her husband.
Jiang Xia from Anhui province, waits to take passengers in her pedicab near Wal-Mart.
“Actually, I have never thought that I would take up this job,” Xia says. “But it is more than a way to earn my living. It is a chance to realize my dream of being successful.”
“Aside from being more healthy and strong, my dream to make a living on my own and succeed in my career has come true thanks to my tricycle,” she adds.
In the late 1980s, having been in hospital for two or three months after wounded in a flood in her hometown, she was persuaded by her relatives to leave for Shantou where they work as cleaners.
Giving up the initial idea of selling home snacks near the railway station, she decided to carry passengers by means of a tricycle the moment she saw the handicapped ride on the street one day.
“However, at the very beginning, the local people looked down upon the tricycles because they considered them as tools for the disabled,” she sighed. “But I have spent more than 1,000 yuan on it. There is nothing to do but work hard on it.”
Recently, her 25-year-old daughter, who is a doctor after graduating from Tsinghua University, asked her to move to Beijing, but she refused to do so. “Naturally, I have been accustomed to the warmth here; more importantly, the local people and government make me reluctant to leave and quit my job here.”
“She should have a brighter future and lead a comfortable life. I do not want her to spend much time and money in taking care of me,” she added.
“Everything here reminds me of the touched moment,” she continues, “On New Year’s Eve, a kind-hearted old lady gave me 100 Yuan when I took her home, then she said to me, ‘hurry to go home and spend the New Year with your family,’ Happy tears sprang from my eyes.”
However, above all, it is the freedom and the sense of achievement that push her to continue her ride.
“Everyday, I can carry my passengers to their destination safely, like travels, feeling free.” There is no need for her to work in an exact or restricted time because she can adjust the time to her needs and begin during rush hours with respect to being her own boss.
“Also, even though I am not so rich now, I can feed my family by myself!” she says excitedly.
Living in a building in Lane3, Changxia Village, Changxia Road, every day, she gets up early in the morning, prepares the breakfast and does the washing. She begins working after lunch and doesn’t go home until midnight without having dinner.
Now, the People’s Square is not her only choice. It is Wal-Mart, Tuopu, Chenghai, Walking Street and the bus terminal station that she will wait for more customers every day. “To be honest, I feel very, very thirsty during my busy rides, especially in the summer days. So, two bottles of medicinal herbal tea are necessary for me. They make me energetic!”
Unlike others, she keeps on carrying passengers to the destination in spite of the strong wind and the heavy rain, without more fees.
Even though sometimes a few unreasonably troublesome passengers complain that the seat makes them uncomfortable, or lose their temper with her, she never utters a word. “The customer is God, of course!” As a result, her responsible attitude increases the loyalty of passengers to her. A few regular customers keep on using her rather than others when they saw her.
“I am satisfied with my current income 30 or 40 Yuan a day, more than 10,000 Yuan a year that at least is affordable to support my whole family,” she says with a smile.
“Every time the traffic policemen confiscate our tricycles, the governmental officials do us a favor and return them to us.” A smile passes across her rubicund face.
And she admits, with a grin, she will go back to her hometown to operate a snack bar in several years, maintaining her dream.
After that, she operates the engine, pedals her tricycle and carries her passenger ahead.
The Woman Pedicab Driver
By Bi Qianyi (Suzy)
Green pedicabs stand in a long row outside the entrance of Wal-mart, a shopping mall in the center of downtown Shantou. When the drivers grab potential guests, they usually shout to them loudly with serious faces.
Most of the drivers are men, wearing dark grey or white T-shirts, with a pair of sandals. Among this group of men, only a few are women.
“We can handle the pedicab well as men,” said Chen Dongmei, one of the drivers.
Dongmei, ties her hair in a ponytail, wears a light blue T-shirt and a pair of sneakers on her feet. Like the other drivers, her skin is swarthy.
This 31-year-old from Anhui Province smiles coyly when asked why she came to Shantou. “I have to earn money to maintain my family,” said Chen, whose husband is still farming in Anhui. They have a 9-year-old son and their own aging parents to look after.
“The money we get from farming is not enough, “ she said. “I’ve never studied at school, so it’s hard to find a better job.”
She did not know what to do until she met her countrymen at the spring festival, who told her that she could earn more money in Shantou by carrying passengers.
Chen is only about 1.5 meters high. “Of course it’s really hard to compete with those big guys,” she said, holding the handlebar. “You see the row from the front to the back?” she asked, pointing to the long row several meters away from her. “There’s a rule that the one who stands in front of the row has priority to carry guests. I don’t know where that rule is from, but that’s the rule.” Chen does not stand in that row but she is among other driver friends on the corner in front of all men drivers. “I have to do so, or I have no chance to get the guests.”
Two girls came wanting to take a pedicab. Men were shouting, negotiating with girls on the fare. Another woman driver beside Chen said yes to those girls immediately, and got the guests. “We can only get guests by this way, with lower prices,” Chen said.
“I don’t think they (women pedicab drivers) have the same strength as men,” said Mr. Yu, who is a security guard at McDonald. Everyday when patrolling, he can see pedicab drivers waiting outside McDonald.
Miss Li and her younger sister always take a pedicab when they go out. “We prefer woman drivers,” Li’s younger sister said, eating her ice cream. “They are gentler than men, and they will not drive too fast as men do.”
“Women customers like me more,” Chen said. “I don’t know, maybe because I am a woman. Sometimes men will get angry with us. “
But there are still some men drivers showing mercy on their women competitors. Mr Jiang, who is also from Anhui, has been a pedicab driver here for three years.
“Women doing the same job as us is very hard,” he said, adding he has seen some women unable to handle larger loads of people. “But this doesn’t mean that they are not fit for this job because they are women. Everyone can do a good job as long as he wants to earn money. “
Chen comes here about 8 a.m. from her rented house where she lives with four other women drivers everyday, and doesn’t go back home until 10 p.m. Even though their days are long, the women always find time to talk, so that they can shrug off nostalgia.
“We usually talk about our family when we go back late at night,” Chen said. “I miss my family. I want them to live more happily.”
She wants to earn at least 20,000 yuan before she can go back to run a small grocery store with her husband and move away from farm life. She calls her family once a week, crying after every call. “But when I am thinking about what I am doing for them, the energy comes back.”
A women pedal a pedicab for life
By Zhang Xiaomin (Mina)
Around the San Shen Ren sculpture in Jingxin Road the congested urban areas of Shantou, is a woman who pedals a pedicab, the local word for rickshaw. She sweats of her brow and smiles at the passerby.
She stopped her pedicab and used her sleeves to wipe the sweat off her face, protected from the sun by a red hat.She looks tall and strong.
The woman’s name is Li Huaicui, from Anhui province. She said she had been in Shantou three years and does the job more than two years. Since she came to Shantou, she tried to get a job taking care of two children and working at a restaurant, but the money was too low, she said. Pedaling all day in a rickshaw is more painstaking but earns much more.
“My husband fully supports for me on this,” said the 37-year-old. “Now my children are here too, they will go to school, so I must earn more and more money.” She can earn about 40 yuan a day and more during the holidays.
“If there are no passengers, I would feel very tired. When I carry the passengers, though there is pain in my body, I feel very happy,” Huaicui said.
Huaicui showed the palms of her hands covered in calluses from holding tight and rubbing against the handlebars. She said driving a pedicab is a hard work, but she can do it well. Sometimes being a woman attracts other women to hire her.
“I would tend to hire a woman, because pedicab driver should have rugged physical strength. It is hard for women to do this job. I think (they need) the money is,” said Tan Ling one of Huaicui’s customers.
“I think this woman is from Anhui,” she said speaking to her friend who was also riding with her. “Women from Anhui would be stronger and could endure fatigue or hardships. She must be an Anhui woman, I would bet on it.”
Another woman, Zhao Ling from Shantou, said she did not care to sit on a woman’s pedicab or a man’s.
“At the beginning of this year there were many women who choose women drivers.” At the beginning of the year there was a case where a driver raped and killed a young girl. After the rape case, many women were afraid of the male drivers.
“I would tend to hire a man,” said Hong Chunjie, a student from Lyhuai High School. “Men have double the speed. All the schoolboys of our class would like to be driven by a man.”
“There are more and more women doing this job. It needs physical strength, however, there is no limit of time. If you have a pedicab you may do the job whenever you please. This job is very fit for women which must do housework,” said Fang Zhihua, a male pedicab driver from Jiangxi said.
Li Huaicui’s pedicab is not the same as others’. Most pedicabs run by motor but hers has no motor which would cost about 2,000 yuan. “I have never thought of it. It takes too much!”
She spent about 1,000 yuan to buy the pedicab without a license plate, because registration would cost 400 Yuan a month. She is afraid that the police will catch her, as they have twice before, and then she would lose her pedicab.
Though, some male drivers said they hate the police but they are not afraid of them at all. “They capture our pedicab in the morning, and we could get it out with about 300 Yuan in the evening,” said Fang Zhihua, 54. The police catch the drivers just to get the bribe money, he said.
“They are bandits,” said another pedicab driver Zhang Changlian. “It is very unfair to us, but we have no choices.”