Free Fallin’

So today I fell off a Lime.

Do you know what a Lime is? It’s a super fun and extremely convenient death trap.

Calendar-wise I’m 40. In looks, my 8 year-old students swear I couldn’t possibly be more than 32 (because 8 year olds are notoriously good at guessing age, right?). But at heart, I am mid-to-late teens, including all the good decision making power.

But it’s not fair! I was trying to make a good decision!

About two months ago, during rehearsals for the school play, I pulled something in my right calf muscle while teaching my students some “choreography” (more like “walking with flair”). Weirdly, I haven’t really bounced back from my injury as easily as I used to and my leg has been aching on and off ever since.

Sooooo, it seemed only reasonable that instead of walking home (15 whole minutes) I should save my leg the extra strain and hop on a random motorised Lime scooter, one of the dozens that popped up over night around my neighbourhood just a few months ago.

This was to be my 4th Lime ride. My experiences to that point had been mixed, but I did have one sweet morning ride that convinced me Lime could be a fantastic commuting option when time or laziness were pressing.

A vacant Lime sat awaiting me on the curb outside the bakery. I scanned the handle-bar QR code like a boss and the scooter sprang to life. Hopping on, I looked both ways like a good girl, then jammed my thumb down on the accelerator and buzzed away! Actually, I have a tendency to slow the scooters down by releasing the accelerator button, so it was more like lurched and jerked away.

My knowledge of Lime the company is not particularly deep, but from the Netflix documentary I saw about them, it’s my understanding that their business is somewhat controversial. I believe they first appeared on the boardwalks and city streets of Southern California to give cruising down the boulevard a whole new meaning. They are both loved for their breezy convenience and detested for their cluttering presence, low-to-zero safety measures and, in some cases, complete lack of municipal permission to do business at all. There are a lot of good reasons to hate Lime, but, y’know, I don’t know, they look so fun, and so convenient, it’s just short ride, who cares, what’s the big deal…?

Anyway, I coasted down the bike path and veered right down a quiet street. I was going pretty fast because I had the accelerator pushed all the way down and the road I was travelling was at a very slight downward slope. Did you know that the top speed of a Lime scooter is 24km/hr (14.8 miles/hr)? Me neither. And that’s just with battery power, not including the increased velocity generated by the slope. Wheee!

I whipped down the street, skillz-fully avoiding manhole covers, road cracks and open car doors. That’s when I saw the speed bump.

As I mentioned before, I’m not great at breaking with these scooters and I prefer to just let go of the accelerator if I want to slow down. The scooters are normally pretty responsive, but at the speed I was going and with the encouragement of the slope my habitual strategy was unsuccessful. Hours later, I realized I didn’t have any experience of using the brakes on a Lime at all – never practiced using them. Unlike when I ride a bike, my hands weren’t even resting over the break in anticipation of a quick response. I was completely unprepared and unable to safely slow down. When I hit that speed bump I was going to go flying. Which is why I decided my best option was to jump off .

Did I mention I wasn’t wearing a helmet?

I’m actually pretty good at falling. I’ve fallen down LOTs of ski slopes (including a spectacular 30 second fall down an Expert Black Diamond slope in Italy last February, which my husband doesn’t know about), I’ve been thrown from a horse, I’ve flown over the handle-bars of a bicycle, and I was probably dropped as a baby a couple of times. The only time I ever broke a bone (furiously knocks on wood) was when I tripped on a backpack strap and soared down the hall to land elbow-first on the bathroom tile while a tower of Archie comics collapsed on my head.  So, like, I bounce.

But the jump off the scooter completely surprised me for some reason. My feet hit the ground while my hands remained gripped around the bars. The force jolted me forwards and then threw me back again as the weight of scooter ricochetted towards me. I hit the ground left hip first and then my hand shot out to save my face from smashing on the curb. Adrenaline and embarrassment made me spring immediately to my feet, my thigh throbbing but my hand only mildly scraped up. I shot a sheepish grin to the passing man on the sidewalk, who I think said “Ça va?” but I’m not sure, because did I mention I had been listening to an audio book through my AirPods the whole time? 

I was only half-way home and I was shaken and more sore than when I had started my ride. There was nothing else to do but ride the damn Lime the rest of the way home. I hopped back on and gingerly moved forward, but this time I was going to practice braking with the hand break. Which is when I discovered that the hand brake on this scooter DIDN’T EVEN WORK. I squeezed two, three times and nada. No slowing down. I didn’t feel vindicated, just more stupid for getting on a demon vehicle with faulty breaks.

I hobbled home, not looking forward to explaining to hubby what had happened. I was pretty sure my right big toe was broken (it’s not, I can put weight on it now so it’s fine.). Blood was soaking through my jeans from the road rash, and dripping from my scraped hand. By the time I got to my door the adrenaline had worn off and I was sore and sorry for myself. 40 years old and still falling down in the street like a kid learning to ride a bike.

Hubby cleaned me up and iced my toe and laughed in my face and I-told-you-so’d. “Better you than me,” he acknowledged. “You bounce.” (See?)

“Don’t feel too bad,” he continued. “You are adventurous and brave and full of life. I love that you try that crazy stuff that I would never do. I don’t want you to lose that. Just take my bike helmet next time for Pete’s sake!”

I don’t want to lose that either. At 40 or any other age.

4 thoughts on “Free Fallin’

  1. Is it ok that I laughed all the way through this? I mean, I wasn’t laughing *at* you, right? What great descriptions you offer! And I love how you weave back and forth in time throughout this piece. It’s kind of like being in your head as you move relentlessly towards the truth you revealed in the first line. And you also manage to reveal little bits of you as you write. It’s fun to read. That said, I really really hope that your 40-year-old body recovers easily. Hope you’ve taken lots of Tylenol or its equivalent & that the ice keeps the swelling tomorrow. I’m kind of anticipating that tomorrow’s slice is going to be about pain…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You just took me on quite a ride! I cringed at your description of how fast you zipped along. Being overly cautious myself I was able to live that more daring lifestyle vicariously through you. That’s a testament to your writing. Your story also reconfirmed for me why I don’t throw caution to the wind, lol. But I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure on the Lime! And next time (first time actually since I’ve never heard of them) I hear someone mention those contraptions of mayhem, I will think of your story!

    Liked by 1 person

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