I’m just loving the Segway, but there have been two problems. Well, three, if you include its not fitting into the Prius’ trunk, which I certainly do, although I’m now thinking that if I took the Handlebar/Control Shaft Assembly off, which requires only a #4 hex wrench and disconnecting some wires……

More recently, after I graduated to the Intermediate and Advanced keys so as to attain higher speeds, I’ve been having a problem going down steep hills. Yes, down. One of the safety features is a governor. When this kicks in, the handlebar forces itself back, which slows me almost to a stop, after which it allows me to continue in another little burst downhill. I can’t increase my speed even by leaning precariously forward against both common sense and the explicit warnings in the manual. Quite annoying, especially when rushing to an appointment.

So last night after Bob got here and he got his brief introductory lesson and rode the thing around the house a bit, we set out for the world-class cioppino at The Anchor. I suggested that I ride it down Noe to Liberty, turn left, and continue a third of the block to the point where Liberty becomes less steep before he got onto it. A glance down Noe at its steepest there in front of the house convinced him immediately of the wisdom of my plan. I think anyone contemplating stepping onto an unfamiliar wheeled vehicle with no brakes at the top of that hill would quite naturally flash on a vision of his freshly-skinned carcass twitching pitifully after it finally came to rest at the bottom.

So we set out, and Bob did splendidly on the gentle middle slope. As I had feared, though, I had to progress by fits and starts (OK, I exaggerate slightly) and could barely keep up with him (more slight exaggeration) on the steep downgrade. I really must try this one more time with the Advanced key and make sure it’s not just me before I call the Segway hotline.

The other problem is that it attracts so much attention. I have yet to see another on the streets of San Francisco. Heads turn, which makes me cringe. Folks chat me up, which I rather enjoy in general, but a disconcertingly high percentage of them ask how much it cost.

Well, this is a sore point. I loathe ostentation. Displays of wealth sicken me. I’m so neurotic about this that I can’t even bear to wear the Rolex I bought for my father when I was in the Army, so I gave it away. Yet, here I am riding around on what looks like (and for many people is) a 5K rich-guy toy. So I spin it as a wheelchair substitute, which in fact it is, albeit a bit early. What it’s mostly doing now is allowing me to do my shopping and errands in Eureka and Noe Valleys without using my car. But still, it gives me the creeps to admit how much it cost.

Bob had the perfect solution. When someone asks what it cost, I’ll simply reply: “It was a gift.”

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