Segway in the Prius

It all started when, realizing 1) I wanted to go the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market because of those astonishing clementines that Fairview has had and may not have past this week (these are the ones that I may have mentioned have pushed Page mandarins down to second place and have been eaten to the point of bowel intolerance in certain households) and 2) that I was going to have lunch at Palomino with some ex-colleagues, it struck me that I should just go to the market late and then drive the few blocks down the Embarcadero to Palomino. I don’t have to worry about refrigerating stuff from the Ferry Plaza this time because yesterday I took Sue on her introductory trip to European Foods and went into a buying frenzy which resulted in my now having a refrigerator full of food that I must eat in order of imminent spoilage. So I knew I wasn’t going to be buying much besides the clementines.

Anyhow, one of the ex-colleagues had expressed interest in the Segway, so I’d offered to toss it into the trunk and let her take a demo ride. I had written on several occasions about how the capability of just tossing it into the trunk was one of its most attractive features. I knew there’d be no problem because I’d lifted the first one I’d ever seen out of a Segway rep’s trunk last November, and they weigh only 83 pounds.

Well, yes. They still weigh only 83 pounds, but it’s a very cumbersome 83 pounds and singularly ill-provided with places where one who is losing his grip might grasp, especially when he is not being watched by a woman and is thus not focused on making this test of strength look easy. But with some grunting I got it up to the lip of the trunk only to discover that the Prius trunk is clearly not as large as the trunk of that woman’s car. It wouldn’t just plop right in. But we all know how if you approach these things at the right angle, you can get one wheel in and then adjust the angle and slip the other in. So I tried this from various approaches and with the Segway at various angles and can now state with some confidence that the Segway cannot be placed into the trunk of a Prius. I can also state with equal confidence that the Segway cannot be forced into the trunk of a Prius, and mine has a couple of minor scrapes to prove this…as does the Prius.

It can, however, be wrestled around to the passenger-side front door and allowed to rest there while the vehicle interior is examined and certain dimensions compared with those of the Segway. The fit looked iffy, so I went ahead and wrestled it into the back seat area after I had moved the front passenger seat as far forward as possible. Is the phrase “grunt work” current in American English?

(Late Note:  The second generation Prius, which became available in December of 2004, has, among other great improvements, a hatchback into which a Segway can easily be fitted.)

I got a turnover place adjoining the market on my second pass and made one careful pass through the market, not a wasted step. I picked up twenty bucks worth of the clementines (they range from agate to golf-ball size), a couple of packages of dried tomatoes and a few Marsh grapefruit from the Hamadas, a half-dozen of Lee’s fabulous and expensive eggs, and a bottle of Frog Hollow apple juice.

Back to the car, where I collapsed gratefully into the driver’s seat and glided along the Embarcadero to Folsom, where I got a parking space and read the paper for thirty minutes (all bad news). Then I wrestled the Segway out, untelescoped the handle, and rolled down the bike lane to a cut just past Palomino, where there is, glory of glories, a wheelchair ramp. Palomino has a large outdoor seating area, and I rolled right up to the edge of it, parking the Segway out of the way beside a planter.

Lunch with the colleagues was as enjoyable as ever even though I have minor reservations about recommending Palomino. The interior is gorgeous, the terrace offers a spectacular view out over the bay, most of the staff are very pleasant, the menu is exciting, and the food was well presented. What more could one ask? Well, the others seemed quite happy with their food, Sharon going so far as to describe hers as having “bright bursts,” a metaphor at which my heart leaped.

And yes, my strawberry lemonade was superb and my ability to appreciate the entree was perhaps dulled by eating way, way too much of a gargantuan appetizer of waffle-cut French fries with a gorgonzola sauce. My excuse was that I kept trying to find more gorgonzola in that rich, creamy sauce, and by the time I gave up I was pretty much full. Enough so that my “fettuccine Alfredo con seafood” (sic) perhaps was troughed in front of a sated appetite. Still, it was every bit as unexciting as my recent entree at Catch, the glitzy new seafood place on Market near 16th. (In Meredith Brody’s review of that place recently in SF Weekly, she mentioned that when she had told her father that she was eating at a gay fish place, her father inquired, “Where do you think they find the gay fish?”)

Rachel’s introduction to the Segway was uneventful, once I noticed that her feet were too far back (and the manual had warned me to make sure they put their feet in the right place when I allowed others to test it). Women, I have noticed, tend not to have the control issues that make the first few moments on a Segway difficult for cops of any age or sex and older men.

This evening I’ve been nibbling away at the stuff I got yesterday at European Foods. Just now, the fresh smoked sprats. The counterwoman and I enriched our vocabularies over the sprats, as I had failed to point at them when I asked for a half pound. She didn’t know the English, which explains why the label was only in Russian, but when I pointed at them, she said something that sounded virtually identical to the German Sprotten, which I pounced on…and then carefully pronounced “sprats” for her.


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