At the ripe age of 18, I was awesome. I believed with the naivete that only accompanies being so young and alive that the world really was my oyster and I felt, with a sense of what can only be called arrogance, that the endless caffeine-fueled study nights, obsessive note taking, and Harvard acceptance somehow made me better and more worthy than my peers.
Then I got awkward. I started collapsing. And I promise you, nothing is more awkward than not being able to support your own body weight. Such a disability creates some of the most awkward situations known to man, like having your crush find you sprawled out on the linoleum floors outside of your physics classroom, ghost white in the face and sweaty to the touch.
Months after the awkwardness began, and after taking a medical deferment for a year from college, I was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition of the autonomic nervous system that makes standing or walking for long periods of time a serious challenge.
And so began my precarious and sometimes volatile relationship with my mobility scooter. I needed to get around campus, and though a disability van could drive me to classes, if I ever wanted to meet a friend at Starbucks — or dare I suggest, venture to a party — I needed a way to get there since my legs and heart and lungs were no longer strong enough to carry me. I purchased a red Revo three-wheel mobility chair (equipped with basket and horns), named it Red Hot, and the rest is history.
Think about the ex you keep on sleeping with even though you’ve chosen to break up. Yes, there is the issue of convenience. But more than that, deep down, there is still some love. And if there’s love, there’s no need for shame, folks! That pretty encapsulates the dynamic between Red Hot and me.
So for the select few of you out there in cyberland who have to ride one, too, or for those of you who’ve ever felt overcome with the hashtag awkward… this is for you.
Most Awkward Things About Riding a Scooter
- Running out of battery.
- Being chased down by street preachers who shout, “Are you infirmed? Can we pray for you?”
- Parking. Latching your scooter lock on to a bike rack filled with actual bicycles. Correlary of parking. Parking your scooter to go into a lecture hall only to exit and find that during the hour you were indoors, it rained cats and dogs.
- International tourists gawking and pointing at you on your ride.
- Aforementioned tourists actually using their Nikons to photograph you, “ScooterGirl, the spectacle.”
- Scooting past a kid you made out with the previous evening at party. He had no idea you rode a scooter. The priceless look on his face as you zoom by…
- The often not particularly well-hidden bewilderment and shock of onlookers as you make the transition from sitting on the scooter (they assume you’re paralyzed) to standing up… it’s a miracle!
- Scoot of shame. Enough said.
But if Red Hot’s taught me anything, it’s that for every awkward moment, there exists an equally kickass one.
Most Kickass Things About Riding a Scooter
- Having friends offer to pimp your ride.
- Giving said friends joy rides.
- Being able to respond to “how fast does that thing go?” with “it actually measures speed with a knob that turns from tortoise to hare.”
- Proving to those who think you are a shitty driver that you actually possess serious skills by sporting a hella tight turning radius and performing kickass K-turns.
- Discovering what love is — a man who is able to walk besides you while you scoot, holding your left hand in his right, adores you. Straight up. No bullshit.
- Honking at annoying people.
- Or cursing at them (while beeping your horn to cover up particularly vulgar words.)
- Possessing the mobility to get around campus and therefore the freedom to actually live your life. That’s straight up kickass.