Segued By A Segway

By Jerry D. Haight

Segue – A verb referring to a smooth transition from one state or condition to another.

Segway – A noun referring to an onerous critter with an attitude having two parallel wheels, connected by a platform with a brain, a strong will and a very mean spirit.

The Segway personal Transporter was featured on ABC's Good Morning America not too long ago. It was described as "the world's first self-balancing human transporter." Looking at the machine in motion, you get an idea you’re looking at the future of how mankind will transport itself. Unlike a car, the Segway only has two wheels, but unlike a bicycle or motorcycle, the wheels are adjacent rather than in-line. Also, in contrast, the Segway manages to stay upright by its own internal mechanisms. According to the article, to move forward or backward on the Segway, the rider merely leans slightly forward or backward. To turn left or right, he gently nudges the Lean Steer frame. You get a sense of power and speed, yet you also feel safe and in absolute control. It all feels so very natural and instinctive. Yea right! But now let us forget the good morning stuff and examine the real facts.

It was a sunny afternoon in Branson, day four of our visit. We were driving down the “green line”, a unique way of describing Branson’s street schema, when we came to a Segway park. Kids were riding up hills, down hills, traversing the course in all directions along paved paths and all in all, having great fun evidenced by the smiles on each face. I say kids because at a certain age, almost everyone is younger and seem like kids. The child in me became aroused and eager to join in the fun so I began to lobby for the time when I, too, would be frolicking on the trails in the Segway Park. There are certain protocols for making things happen in a marriage and this was no time to immediately hit the brakes with the announcement “honey, I’m going Segway riding”. No, this kind of situation requires a certain amount of finesse so on the first day, I simply said; “Hmmm, that looks like fun”, then dropped the subject. Later that day, I would casually mention the Segway Park, kind of in passing and drop the subject again. The next day, I commented that “Someday, I might like to try riding a Segway”. I knew the strategy worked when Phyllis commented that I may never have that opportunity again. Sure enough, by the sixth day, we were on our way to the Segway Park in earnest unaware I would get an in depth course on the laws of physics and the dynamics of motion.

Sir Isaac Newton on his first Segway ride discovered the first law of motion that a body at rest will remain at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and direction until acted upon by an unbalanced force. My Segway experience validated his law completely. .After paying the fare, signing the hold harmless documents and selecting a helmet, I was given a brief crash course in Segway operation and told to “have fun”. What followed was a lot like newlyweds in bed. Neither the Segway nor I quite understood each other and our early relationship definitely was not one made in heaven.  As I gently leaned forward, signaling the Segway to go, It acted like a spurred race horse and shot forward. This caused me to lean back, the signal for it to reverse. It proceeded to “ALL BACK FULL” Of course, in accordance with Newton’s first, I now passed it on its way back, going forward which was all the Segway needed to proceed with an “ALL AHEAD FULL” mode while now I was going backward.. We continued demonstrating Newton’s law, particularly the part about unbalanced forces while each attempted to catch up with the other. Finally, our lover’s spat turned ugly and it showed its mean spirit as it threw me. As we parted company, It was like  levitating through the air, watching life pass before my eyes, stopping at the age of four seeing myself attempting to ride my new tricycle. The stunning force of hitting the pavement shocked me back into the present. The beast opened deep seated memories from my past; like skinned elbows, wrists, palms and knees. It was déjà vu all over again. While gathering my wounded spirit, otherwise known as pride, I mustered the courage to face the Segway again. This time it stood fifteen feet away from me shaking. It obviously knew it had done me wrong and apologetically invited me to try again. “Do I dare?” I asked myself. By this time, the attendant had appeared with his cell phone paused to dial “911”, but seeing I was still functioning told me he should have raised the Lean Steer frame before I started. Making the adjustment, he asked if I wanted to try again. “Why not”, I responded so on I went. This time we seemed to understand what each was trying to do. This machine has a brain, is smart and really quite intuitive. With my new understanding, I was soon gamboling about the park with my partner, the Segway. My wife said I was grinning from ear to ear. Later, I would pick the rocks from my hands, elbows and knees and patch up the rest of my wounds as I patched my relationship with my Segway. One might say I was segued by a Segway, then again, maybe not..