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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Whooee! What a ride!

Oct 03, 2016 12:56PM ● By Don Johnson

Among the many maladies that afflicted me as I became older was one they called peripheral neuropathy. This was a malfunction of the nervous system of the outer extremities starting with a tingling of the feet and culminating with shooting pains in my hands and feet, and losing control of those areas.

The disease progressed through stages that left me dependent for locomotion, first, on a cane, then a walker, then a roller-fitted walker called a rollator. This condition was compounded by my atrial fibrillation, which led to a lack of stamina. The combination of these factors left me with slow and uncertain mobility when I wanted to get from one place to another.

Then, my much better half came up with the perfect solution: a mobility scooter.

This little vehicle was ideal for any gimp with the desire to get from one place to another with minimum effort. Smoothly, quietly, it glided from one room to another at my will. For portability, it quickly disassembled into three lightweight parts, which fit neatly into our minivan. For me it had but one drawback. It totally lacked any degree of excitement. It performed its function with efficiency, grace and dignity.

What a bore!

However, it had one thing that intrigued me to no end. In addition to the regular throttle, it had a speed dial with the image of a turtle at one end and a jackrabbit at the other. I was forbidden to touch this dial while going into or operating inside a home or building.


To go to church, we parked in a handicap zone where my wife Judy would quickly unpack and assemble my scooter. I would glide up the ramp provided and slip easily into the meeting room.

Then my good wife had a brainstorm. Our congregation counted within its membership several other handicapped people, many of whom found walking quite difficult.

“What if,” she inquired, “we parked at the far end of the lot, which would give me plenty of room to assemble your scooter and you ride it back to the ramp? We could save this space for someone who really needs it.”

With my mind fixed firmly on that little speed dial, I thought that was a splendid idea.

So now, each Sunday, we drive to the space at the far end of the parking lot as I envision that expanse of a half-block of unobstructed pavement as the newest version of the Texas Motor Speedway. I back out onto the roadway, twist the little dial up to full jackrabbit and hunker down. Eyes half closed against the wind, I rocket up the parking lot, pressed back in my seat, hair blowing, at a probable mind-twisting speed of 10 to 12 mph.

People gather at the front door to watch as I zip up the ramp and glide sedately into the meeting room where I unobtrusively slip the little speed dial back to turtle. I ease down the aisle to my spot next to Judy’s seat.

Probably none of the onlookers know what a refreshed spirit resides in that old body. It’s not just the speed with which I flew up the parking lot, but it was a ride that was totally under my control. No seat belts. No air bags. No helmet. Just me, my scooter and the elements.

What a ride!