Ker-lunk. With no warning, the needle on the scooter has slipped out of the green zone, through the yellow and into the red. I am barely moving. I dial down on the speed and the power needle moves back up into the green, but I’m still just barely moving. I do not like this. I do not like this at all. I cannot do much in the way of walking, and I am so-o-o-o far from home. I creep—did I mention that I was barely moving?—up the approach to the bridge. This is not good. This might even be bad. Possibly really bad.
I get off the scooter, press the throttle lever and walk beside the scooter. Slowly, carefully, we walk up the bridge. Once we crest the bridge, I should be all right, I tell myself. The sun sinks golden and glowing below the horizon, leaving blue darkness. I contemplate the jet flying overhead and the tractor-trailer carrying a boat on the Thruway underneath, and reflect on Transportation. In the middle of the bridge, I get back on my scooter—and nothing happens. We are still creeping. And I am getting a very creepy feeling in my gut. Ah, well. Home is thataway and I will proceed there one inch at a time. And that is where I’m at when Officer Dan and the Silent Partner approach.
They make their approach in a big, black official police SUV. When they spot me, they turn on all the red and white lights, both flashing and static. Officer Dan stops dead in the center of the bridge on the white line in the middle of traffic, everything flashing, and calls to me.
“Are you all right?”
“Um,” I smile winsomely, “not exactly.”
He pulls the big black official police vehicle around in a U-turn and gets behind my scooter and me on the bridge. Officer Dan and the Silent Partner get out and we start to talk. Officer Dan is a hefty guy with black hair, somewhere between shaved and short; the Silent Partner is lighter in weight and blonder in hair. Officer Dan says some things about me not having a registered vehicle, and not having lights—.
I smile winsomely, declare “I’ve got light,” reach over and pop the button, and my tiny headlight comes on—this little light of mine, let it shine, let it shine.
Officer Dan looks down at me, momentarily struck dumb by my little light, then says, “If you were my mother, I wouldn’t let you out.”
I give him a cheerful lecture about the rights of the disabled, the safety of electric scooters, the failure of the NYS DOT to provide guidance, and the future of scooters as a growth industry. I explain that my status is somewhere between a bicycle and a car, not pointing out that I once owned a Geo Metro that, under the hood, looked like a lawnmower. With cheerful plaintiveness, I inquire, “If I were a sixteen-year-old boy on a bicycle, you wouldn’t be scolding me, would you?”
Officer Dan deigns not to answer, asking, instead, if the scooter is portable and can be put in the back of the official police vehicle.
“Um, no,” I say sadly. “It doesn’t come apart.”
“How heavy is it?” he asks.
“Heavy,” I say sadly.
He puts two hands under the back of the seat, lifts, and breaks up laughing.
“Well,” I say meekly, “‘heavy’ is all relative.”
At this point, Office Dan and the Silent Partner decide to fold down the seat and hoist the scooter into the back of their vehicle—although, actually, it is not their vehicle; it is their supervisor’s. They open the back of the vehicle that is not theirs and discover it is full of Stuff—official police supervisor’s Stuff, loaded halfway to the roof. Not easily discouraged, they pick up the scooter and try to stuff it on top of the Stuff, but it won’t fit.
“Really, truly,” I tell them, “it won’t fit.”
We stand in the dark on top of the bridge and reflect on the situation. I thoughtfully volunteer that I have my electric cord with me, and could just stop at somebody’s house and recharge.
The Silent Partner states declaratively that the East Syracuse Fire Department is just over the bridge. Ah! We instantly have a plan, consisting of me scooting over the bridge, Office Dan and the Silent Partner following me in the supervisor’s vehicle, and us all landing down at the fire department on the other side of the bridge. We start off—very slowly—and in a matter of seconds I realize it is a very good thing that they can’t see my face because I am laughing uncontrollably at what we must look like: a short, round, middle-aged woman on a neon-blue three-wheel electric scooter being followed by a big, black police SUV with red and white lights blazing and flashing. If only I had a camera!
We arrive—the same night—at the firehouse, and instantly realize that it is a volunteer fire company and the firehouse is empty and locked. My offer to start a fire in order to get the firefighters to come is rejected. The Silent Partner scouts around the firehouse while talking on his cell phone. Office Dan takes his radio microphone off his shoulder, says straight facedly, “Listen to this,” and then makes a radio announcement that he is “assisting a motorist.” The dispatcher makes him repeat it.
The Silent Partner announces that the fire chief will be here in about fifteen minutes, then he goes about his business. He seems to have business that keeps him busy walking, talking and looking at things, without reference to Officer Dan and me. Office Dan and I talk; we are that kind of people.
He tells me about his mother, who is in a lot of pain from fibromyalgia. I tell him that my fibromyalgia pain stopped when I stopped taking medications. He tells me about the cardiac event he had a while back, and how it shook him up so badly that he was having anxiety attacks. I tell him there’s a cure for that: come to terms with your mortality. “You are going to die,” I tell him. “There’s no doubt about that, so come to terms with it. All you have any control over is when and how.” (To be continued)