Feb 172002

Although Dean Kamen’s ballyhooed “Segway Human Transporter” was quite pricey, words do not adequately describe the peaceful feeling I get when effortlessly roaming the sidewalks of my Ft. Collins neighborhood.

One recent brisk evening, however, my regular relaxing ride was interrupted by a stranger who stopped me on the road. The stranger was young, like me, dressed nicely, unlike me, and, like me, he was fortunate enough to be standing atop his own Segway scooter.

“Good evening, sir,” he said, extending his hand. “That’s quite the scooter you’ve got there.”

“Thanks,” I replied, briefly shaking his hand. “Only one more payment, and this gyroscopic marvel is all mine.” I lovingly ran my fingertips across the handlebar.

“I’m glad to see you enjoy it,” he said. “Did you know there’s an official club set up by the manufacturer? Its purpose is to represent the interests of you, the customer.”

“That’s very nice,” I said, slowly rocking back on my scooter, eager to get on with my peaceful and solitary evening ride.

“And, as someone who’s actively engaged in purchasing the device, you are eligible to vote on the Segway Scooter Club’s upcoming executive membership election.” He was leaning forward, pursuing me.

As annoying as the man was, he seemed well-intentioned. That’s why I couldn’t help but wince in anticipation of what he was about to say.

Sure enough: “I’d be honored to have your vote.”

I leaned back more, and my Segway rolled even faster. “Look, um, I’m very sorry but I don’t . . .”

“You don’t vote?” He gave me a well-practiced look of incredulity. “Don’t you know how important this club is? Don’t you know that a significant percentage of each payment on your Segway goes to this club? Don’t you want to have a say in where this money goes?”

I stood up straight, stopping my scooter. “Just one second . . . a percentage of my scooter payments go to this club, and I have a say in what happens to the money?”

He grinned. “Absolutely!”

“Then can I have my share back?”

The smile dissolved. “No. Of course not. That would be selfish.”

“Then can I have my share given back to the manufacturer to lower the price for the next person who wants to buy a Segway?”

He sighed heavily and I could see breath puff out of his mouth. “Another apathetic Scooter-user who doesn’t care about making the world a better place. Why are you buying a Segway, anyway?”

This was an easy question. “It makes me more mobile. If I want to go anywhere, all I have to do is lean. Walking, biking, driving . . . that’s for chumps. With this bad boy,” I paused to look down on my scooter. It was gleaming in the moonlight. “With this bad boy, I’ll be more capable of going where I want in life.” I looked up to see if he had anything to say. He just shook his head, so I continued.

“Furthermore, when a prospective employer sees me roll into the parking lot bestride the future of personal mobility, she or he will know right away that I’m capable of hard work and sacrifice. Getting your own Segway is neither cheap nor easy.”

Now he was rolling backwards. I could tell he was disgusted. “So it’s all about the money. I get it.” He sharply wheeled around and, without a word, whizzed down the road into the darkness.

I briefly watched him go before resuming my own ride. The bracing night air blew against my face, and, with a smile, I thought again about my ignoble dream: someday starting a family and providing them with financial security.

Jon Watkins is a senior majoring in English.

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