A Little Help to Connect

Laurie - Alexandria, Virginia
Entered on April 27, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50

If you want to be more connected to world around you, ride a Vespa.

I work a little over 2 miles from home, and 4 years ago I decided a scooter would be a fun way to commute. I bought the scooter solely for my own pleasure, but I also got an unexpected benefit. Every time I ride my Vespa, people seek me out. They ask me directions or stop to talk to me. They always want to know the same three things: How do you like that? How much did it cost? What is the gas mileage? And then they tell me their story.

Last weekend an elderly man asked question number one. He had a scooter when he was growing up in India. So did my neighbor Balraj. In fact, somehow Balraj’s father would fit the entire family of five on his scooter. He had his wife on the seat behind him, sitting sidesaddle because of her sari. The sister sat on the front rack, and the two boys dangled off the rear wheel covers. Why is it the rest of us think we need SUVs?

Later that afternoon a hip African American guy said, “I can so see me riding one of those on the weekends.” He told me where he lived, where he worked, and where he would ride a scooter. A toddler came my way with what I call “The Christmas Morning Face.” I let little people sit on the seat and beep the horn while I chat with their mom. I think the hip guy may have liked that, too.

I know these people are unlikely to talk to me under other circumstances. Culture, race, gender, age and general wariness still seem to isolate us from one another much beyond politeness.

We all need some way to connect. Mine is candy apple red and gets 60 miles per gallon.