Watch video and interview here. An operator high atop a pneumatic asphalt paver was assisted by two "back men" (otherwise called a screed or back end operators) at the rear of the machine on a little platform slightly above street level and by a crew of about 10 holding rakes, "lutes"and shovels laying down new street "mat" in northwest Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill. One back man who has been with the streets department since 1997 explained how this new half a million dollar computer-enabled paver is much superior to the 1996 model he originally worked with. He can monitor the job on a 7 inch display as the paver lays down what appears to be a couple inch thick layer of hot steaming asphalt and smoothly seam in a new section to an existing one, in automatic or manual mode turning the levels. It's important to regulate the speed, depth of material and and create a proper crown proper sloping down to the curb edge for rainwater to drain off. And a good back man, he says, makes less work for the foot crew who finish off the leveling work.
James drives for Lyft so he has the time to talk to his passengers about credit and pitch his company's services (FES Protection Plan) for credit restoration for a monthly payment of $87, and to pitch identity protection through Lifelock and to hook people up for trust/will attorney services and insurance products. Watch video here.
I was the first of three riders and we were all a little confused about how many potential riders there could be, how far out of our way we'd be going, who would be dropped off first and how the fare would be split if we're all starting and ending at different locations. We did conclude that we saved some money, lost some time and our driver had to work harder with all the intermediate pickups and drop offs. Watch video interview here.
Some dogs know that if they bark when their owners pull up in the car they're riding in at the drive-through window of the Worthington Northwest Library in Columbus Ohio, a person inside will open up the window and hand them a doggie treat. The window, introduced with construction of a new addition serves busy patrons who coast through to pick up materials they've placed on reserve. Library Manager Jeff Regensburger says about 50-60 people use the drive through each day and more so when the weather is bad/cold. Watch video here.
Jamar White got his first car two years ago at age 33. He had failed his driving test when he was 16 and it wasn't until he met his future wife, Marsha, who encouraged him to try again that he passed the test on his first try and bought his first car. He lovingly polishes the black Ford SUV during his lunch breaks. Just a few months ago he and Marsha married and they drove right down to Baltimore to connect with what turned out to be a memorable honeymoon cruise to the Bahamas. Watch video here.
The Impact girls fast pitch softball team in Roxborough hand washed cars, including your correspondent's not-too-dirty sedan, this past Saturday on a pay-what-you-want basis to raise money so they can enter more tournaments. At your correspondent's bidding, a couple girls mimed their batting and pitching techniques. Many have ambitions to play softball in college, according to their coach who was lending a fair amount of his own elbow grease in the wash line. Watch video here.
Nine hundred dollars is how much Kabria Johnson’s friend told Johnson she made in one day driving for the ride-sharing service Uber. Out on just her third day on the job, the pretty, twenty-one year old “Uber X “driver says she is not afraid for her safety. She knows where to hit you. And since Uber tracks the time and distance through GPS and charges the customer’s credit card, drivers don’t need to carry cash.
Johnson holds down a job in customer service with U.S. Airways and is in the process of being approved, also, by the competing ride service, Lyft. She is saving up to pay off a loan on her other car, get an apartment and buy furniture. And she’s planning a big cookout for herself and five younger siblings this coming Mother’s day which, sadly, will be their first without their Mom who died last October.
It was a smooth ride in Johnson’s newly acquired 2006 Toyota Prius with over 200,000 miles on it, but seeming in good condition, that she uses exclusively when driving for Uber. She was unfazed when another driver rolled down his window at a stop to point out that one of our tires appeared to be flat. We pulled over into a gas station briefly to get some air. Johnson says she has Triple A service and family all over the city to come to her aid if need be. As for me, her rider, Johnson smiles, if she hadn’t been able to get me to my destination, another Uber driver would likely have been summoned to scoop me up for the final leg of my journey within a matter of minutes.
Adil Tijer, an immigrant from Morocco, drives a “black car” for Uber, a service which connects riders with drivers through its mobile apps. On your correspondent’s first trip with Uber, Tijer explained driver licensing, passenger insurance and Uber’s rating system. But for the occasional late night drunk, Tijer’s rating might be a perfect 5-star. The rating system works both ways. Uber drivers get to rate their riders, too, and drivers can refuse to accept a fare. Watch video ride and interview here.
Tijer worked previously as a medical assistant and pizza deliveryman. He visits friends and family back home every year and describes his country as a democracy, tolerant of different religious practices, where the people love their king. Tijer, now an American citizen, came to the U.S. as one of the quota-set 2500 Moroccans who won the lottery some years ago and hopes to own his own store one day. He lives in Northeast Philadelphia where he says there is a sizable Moroccan community. Watch video interview here.
Your correspondent took his wife’s car to Dr. Ralph’s Automotive Services Center in Roxborough after she discovered one morning that it had been bashed overnight. While a technician was dusting off the last traces of the repair job, body shop manager John Klimowicz began explaining the business. While high strength steel is still used in car construction, thermoset plastics are becoming more common. To point out the strength of the repair work, Klimowicz relates that the same epoxies used to weld airplane panels are employed for car panel bonding repairs. If repaired properly, according to manufacturer specifications, “you can hit it with a sledge hammer and it will not break.” As to a future when driverless cars are expected to reduce collisions? “That remains to be seen.” In the meantime, Klimowicz believes there is plenty of work for Dr. Ralph’s and for the other nine or so car repair shops tightly spaced alongside this industrial stretch of Umbria Avenue. Watch video interview here.