Something I’ve noticed a lot since starting to drive a scooter is how TERRIFIED people are.
On the sidewalks, I zoom along at six kilometres an hour if I’m unaccompanied and there’s no one around. That feels really zoomy to me, having not locomoted that fast bipedally for quite some time.
But when I’m in a place with people around, or in a shopping centre, I dial the speed right down to minimum. This is actually a fairly slow walking pace.
Yet every single time, people look frightened, and leap out of my way – when they’re not deliberately ignoring me and completely blocking the way while I wait or request passage.
Partners grab their partners to pull them aside, with alarmed looks on their faces, as if tackling them out of the path of a speeding bus in a spectacular Hollywood scene. Parents grab their toddlers and whisk them into arms, glaring at me as if I was charging the kid brandishing a sword and ululating. People in groups jolt visibly when and if they decide to finally acknowledge my existence, and make a giant production, involving a lot of discussion and back and forth and extendings-of-arms, of shuffling each other around to make space for me to get by. People blocking aisles with their angled trolleys ignore me for as long as possible, then make a big deal of moving the trolley, as if they’re compassionate solicitous generous souls who are doing me a giant favour.
People. PEOPLE. It isn’t a drama. It isn’t a big deal. It’s just a scooter with wheels. I’m quite obviously riding slowly and carefully – slower than you’re walking, most of the time. I can see your toddler, your husband, your friend, with these here eyes in my head, and much as I occasionally joke about scooter-mounted flamethrowers, I’m not actually planning to mow them down in cold blood. I don’t take up five metres of side-to-side space; you don’t need to flatten yourself against the wall as if you’re in a commando movie; you need only make enough space for me to get where I’m going.
Just treat me as you would any other human.