Snaxi Gets You Home Safe (and Cures Munchies Too!)
The next time you face a long walk home with the drunk munchies, don’t despair. Try giving the Snaxi a call.
When you take the Snaxi, you can expect a cheap ride, a free snack and a great coversation, including some signature one-liners from Erica Brecher.
The Snaxi is Erica’s new business venture. She began implementing the idea last month, though has only gone out a few times so far. It’s etymology is exactly what it sounds like, a combination of snack and taxi. She asks for a donation of $5 to $10 (depending on the distance).
On Thursday night I got a chance to ride along in the Snaxi for the night to see what it was all about.
I got into the red Subaru at about midnight and Erica was already about to embark on her second job of the night. She was running two friends up to Wal-Mart to get some green Jell-O and supplies for State Patty’s Day.
“I came into this thinking it was going to suck and be awful, but whatever, at least it’ll be profitable,” she said. It has turned out to be something of the opposite — an interesting experience but not that profitable so far, despite a strong Facebook following.
“Facebook is deceiving,” she said. “Eight million friends will like your status but no one will come out the night you go out.”
On the way to Wal-Mart I learned that our current passengers, Lauren and Elissa, had helped concoct the idea of the Snaxi.
“We were talking about how drunk people always want food, so it would be a lot of motivation: you get home and get a snack at the same time,” one of them said.
“I was just the one crazy enough to implement it,” Erica added with a laugh.
On the way back from Wal-Mart, she asked her friends if they had any friends in need of a ride tonight.
“No, we don’t have any friends,” the two said together, laughing. So with no more leads on business, we began roaming downtown. While business was slow, I did get more insight into what it’s like driving the Snaxi. For example, one advantage Erica has over regular taxi drivers is the ability to screen passengers. That way she can avoid anyone she gets a bad vibe from.
“If someone looks like they’re going to rape me, I’m not going to pick them up,” she said. “If you’re a total sketchball, you can walk.”
Being aware of the dangers of picking up strangers, Erica never goes out alone. Although she feels like Penn State is a pretty safe community, it’s better to be careful, she said.
Outside of Café 210, we saw a group of friends walking down the street. Unfortunately, the group was too big to fit in the little hatchback.
“Maybe one of the hot ones can sit in your lap,” she said to me.
As we swerved to avoid students crossing the street, she quipped that “avoiding drunk kids late at night is just like dodging kids on campus during the day.”
Pulling up to a small group at the Phyrst, she put her window down to ask if anyone needed a ride. One girl was reluctant to take her up on the offer, but after some prompting from two friends decided to plead her case.
“I need a way home but I seriously don’t have any money,” she said. As it turned out, the distressed girl had been abandoned by the rest of her group with no way back to her apartment at Nittany Crossing. Erica did not hesitate to offer a free ride. “Just spread the word about me and what I do, that’s all I ask,” she said.
The girl, who was on the verge of tears, could not thank Erica enough. We heard her story in more detail on the way, about how the guy she was with had left after promising to meet her on the dance floor. The act of kindness on Erica’s part was truly heartwarming, earning us each a tight hug from our passenger. It also seemed karmic in a way, because after that business picked up quickly.
We decided to return to the Phyrst to try our luck there again. On the way, the first person we offered a ride to was less than kind.
“Oh yeah, like I need a ride you fucking pervert!” he yelled at me. “What do you want, a blowjob or something?” No, but thanks for the offer, jerk.
Arriving outside the Phyrst again, we immediately got our next group of passengers. By now it was after 1:30 am and students were beginning to leave the bars in larger numbers. One member of the group was carrying a pilfered pitcher of beer.
Once the three friends piled in, we immediately began receiving news of how exciting the night had been. The girl with the pitcher introduced herself as Katie and began to complain of how awful the following night was going to be. She would be working, babysitting a “2-month-old asshole,” as she put it. The trio provided an interesting ride, to say the least, with Katie making faces at me, protesting the sight of her two best friends making out next to her.
As we pulled up to their house Erica was delighted to discover they lived on the same block as her. Katie excitedly invited us both to a “Kegs and Eggs” party Saturday morning.
“If you don’t come I’m going to be very upset,” she assured us, pouting. One of them paid Erica a hefty $20, telling her to keep the change, before they all exited the car.
Enjoying our change in luck, we returned to the Phyrst once more, this time picking up two gentlemen. The pair, who said they were from New York, were appalled to hear Erica is from New Jersey. The jokes began in between directions being given to their house. “Make a Larry here,” one said, pointing to the left.
Before leaving, they suggested Erica print out business cards with her number to hand out to customers. She assured them she’d keep it in mind.
Now the phone calls began coming in. Another friend of Erica’s wanted to secure a ride for four friends from the Delta Tau Delta house on the 400 block of East Hamilton. This group, while less entertaining than the last two, kept Erica on her toes by changing their destination about a half-dozen times. While this was going on Erica got another call. Friends of a friend from Washington needed a ride from the Philly Pretzel Factory. Another friend needed a ride from Canyon Wings in 15 to 30 minutes.
When she finally dropped me off back home, Erica had netted $66 in profit (after only spending $5 on gas at a quick stop at Snappy’s that night). More importantly, it had been a fun experience.
The Snaxi isn’t out every night. As Erica tells her passengers, she likes to go out with her friends sometimes, too. But feel free to join the Facebook group to find out when the Snaxi is in business.
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