Penn State Love Stories: What It’s Like To Help Someone Write Their Own
There’s a certain type of joy that comes with helping a loved one on their big day or even witnessing a proposal with your own eyes. In fact, sometimes the best love stories are not yours, but the ones you help create for someone else.
For Todd Miner, manager of State College’s local Vamos! Lion Chariot pedicab service, he’s no stranger to helping couples on some of the most important days of their lives. A special twist on Love Story Friday this week gave us an inside look on what it’s like to play a pivotal role in so many of these monumental moments, as well a couple of the special stories that come with it.
Vamos! allows customers to take part in a completely customizable and personal ride experience. For the service’s drivers, the most important part of their job is making sure couples are able to use the ride to create their own special story. Though the service is not limited to date rides alone, couples do make up a large part of Vamos! customers. Thus, there are various aspects that set these date rides apart from other types of rides the service offers.
“For date and anniversary rides, the chariot ride is typically a surprise for the lucky lady or guy, while the other member in the couple plans the event,” Miner said. The rides are then often customized with flowers, special destinations, or music playlists of the person’s choice.
While Miner undoubtedly enjoys his job, it’s not always easy. Meeting and exceeding customer requests, understanding specific desires for the mood of the ride, and beating the clock are just a few of the challenges that come with such an important job.
“It’s a huge privilege to play a role in these special life milestones,” Miner said. “At the same time, there’s also a big responsibility of making sure everything goes smoothly. These moments naturally have lots of excitement, but also a little anxiety on the part of the participant, so it’s my job to make sure our clients feel at ease and know that they are very special.”
In fact, Miner recalls a specific instance in which State College traffic threatened to put a halt in the plans for one of his rides. The pedicab service was in the midst of transporting a Penn State alumni bride, groom, and entire wedding party throughout campus for photo shoots just before their 4 p.m. wedding at The Arboretum. Capturing the perfect Penn State photos while also making sure to arrive to the wedding right on time would prove to be the biggest challenge of the day, as pre-Labor Day traffic had suddenly swept the streets downtown.
“Considering we all were traveling through campus between 2 and 4 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day, pedestrian traffic and car traffic were high,” Miner said. “The last thing we wanted was to be late for the 4 p.m. wedding.”
Luckily, with the right planning and a bit of luck, the group made it right on time. But as Miner experienced, some of his best and most memorable rides are not always planned. When Miner met a freshman on the night of his NSO, he had no idea he’d be helping him with one of the biggest moments of his life.
The exasperated freshman hopped on the chariot and proclaimed he had to be taken downtown immediately. “I met this beautiful girl at NSO today and she and her friends are walking downtown somewhere,” he said.
From there, the pair headed off on what Miner described as a “wild goose chase” in order to find the girl he had described. The encounter was one of the most wild and surprising Miner has had throughout his time as a driver, but spontaneous rides are more common than you might think. From surprise dates to spontaneous proposals that even the driver didn’t know about beforehand, working in a service like Vamos! is entertaining for the drivers themselves.
“One time I was out on what I thought was just a “standard” date ride from Fratland to Hotel Atherton (where the couple was staying that evening….the destination and the accompanying suitcase should have been the first clue that something was up!),” Miner said. “On route down College Avenue, just shy of The Cafe, I hear a shout from the back seat of, “She said YES!” only to turn around and see the happy couple with a nice ring on the lady.”
With the variety of couples Miner encounters throughout his work, no two stories are the same. But the fundamental goal for each driver remains constant — to be the support system someone needs to take the next step in their own relationship.