Friday, March 28, 2008

Lee vs. The Taco Wagon

My daughter Lee and I were riding north to Clearlake. As we passed through Middletown we saw a scooter dealer, and I have a soft spot for scooters, so we stopped. The place had Chinese scooters at very seductive prices. Forget about repairs or parts the price was too good. After all, the owner said these scooters were made by Honda in Chinese factories. Honda didn’t put the Honda name on them for a real good reason.

We stopped and Lee wanted to take a test drive. The owner said that would be no problem. Lee was ready to go, but I know that first time riders often freeze up and can’t seem to turn off the throttle. They will run full steam ahead until they crash into something like a parked car or a fence or worse, unable to stop or turn. Take for instance, my friend Blair when he was selling his Harley Sportster. Blair met the prospective buyer at a nearby 7-11. The guy then took Blair’s bike for a test ride right through the glass door at the front of the store. The prospective buyer then proclaimed that there was something wrong with Blair’s bike and decided then and there not to buy.

Lee had ridden a minibike and had ridden a scooter, with me on the backseat. So I thought if I really impressed upon her that when you first ride a scooter you have to turn off throttle to stop, she would do so. I told her several times, “Look, Lee, when you first ride you have to shut off the throttle people tend to freeze up and forget to turn off the gas.” I told her several times and showed her the hand movements required. I told her to go slow and only give it a little gas.

So the moment came she cracked open the throttle put her feet on the floorboards and away she went. About 5 yards later I saw a disaster about to happen, she put her feet down and tried to stop Flintstone style, skidding her feet instead of using the brakes. The front wheel of the scooter came up into the air and she rocketed across the parking lot toward a taco wagon. I yelled, “Get off the gas, get off the gas!”

I yelled once more, “Get off the gas!” I saw it coming, she was going to crash into the taco wagon. She wasn’t slowing or turning she was accelerating. Then I saw it. I saw her change, she forced herself back under control, she overcame panic, she turned off the throttle, and she hit the brakes. She used her will to overcome panic. That’s My Girl. I ran across the parking lot. She had stopped with the front tire about 1/2 inch from the wall of the taco wagon.

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