Thursday, July 2, 2009

Coming out as a Scooter Babe

This ties in with the "Elephant in the Room" post where I asked "Why are there so many well-meaning loved ones with unreasonable fears of the use of mobility aids?" but this post addresses my own unreasonable fears instead of theirs.

It's time for me to come out of the closet as a "scooter babe".

Let me explain. Many years ago my friend Daphne told me that I deserved as much room as I needed in order to be comfortable. For her it meant that if there wasn't a comfortable chair, well, she'd spread out on the floor. When she led our Women of Size Fitness classes, she'd tell us to move around and take up as much space as we could while we danced around the room spreading our wings. For someone who'd been trying to take up as little space as possible since grade school, it was revolutionary. I came out of the closet at as fat woman and stopped trying to hide. It was a defining moment.

Lately I've reached another defining moment -- realizing that to grab the gusto in life, I need my wheels. Coming out as a fat women involved surrounding myself with positive images of fat people and immersing myself in the size-positive community. Coming out as a scooter babe means getting people accustomed to seeing me using a scooter, and getting myself accustomed to using it in new situations.

I talk about my TravelScoot with friends and family. A work friend told me recently that it sounded like I'd really been doing a lot lately. It was the perfect opportunity to tell her about my scoot. I put one of the "Women on Wheels" pictures of me, my mom, and Rae in my office at work. I haven't used my scooter at work (YET), but if I injure my knee again I'll use it rather than stay home like I had to last time that happened. I told everyone on my neighborhood email list, which goes out to 450 homes. (More about that in a minute!)

Today I took another step and did something that struck fear in my heart -- I rode it to a doctor's appointment. My ENT is in a huge medical complex with an equally huge parking lot in a city where we're experiencing record heat. The first thing that struck me is that it didn't matter where I parked! Riding my scoot in from the parking lot was breezy and easy. Going through the doors into the lobby made my heart skip a beat, but I had a big smile on my face as I headed for the elevators. I was hoping to ride up alone, but several people got on with me. Someone held the door when I zoomed out and everyone was very friendly. (Where are all those people who are supposed to be staring?)

I rode through the surgery waiting area, and into the crowded ENT office to sign in for my appointment. I got off and sat in a chair, but turned my scoot so it'd be facing the right way to go to the exam room. The woman who showed me to the exam room said "cool scooter" and proceeded to get medical information from me. The doctor was more interested in getting me feeling better than my scoot, and he sent me off for a pulmonary function test. The woman who administered the test made positive comments about it, but none of the staff ever acted like it was anything unusual for me to be riding it. (Maybe I'm not the first person to come into this VERY busy office using a mobility aid? Go figure!) An added bonus was that when there was no suitable chair for me (in the testing room, and in one waiting area), I stayed on my scoot.

As I was in line to check out, a woman approached me and called me by name. She proceeded to introduce herself and tell me she lives in my neighborhood and had seen my email post about my scoot. She told me how great it looked and thanked me for providing our neighborhood email list. She'd sold football tickets on the list several times, and had gotten to enjoy several games
sitting next to neighbors.

No one in the pharmacy treated me any differently as they filled my prescriptions to treat a sinus infection and asthma. I rode down the elevator again, through the lobby and out to my car. While I was folding my scoot, a nice man stopped and asked if I needed help (I didn't), and before I knew it I was on my way back home.

Has there been a moment of unfounded fear for you? Is there something you're dreading? Is it time for you to come out as a scooter babe? I hope you'll step out of the closet with me. It might be scary for just a minute, but the feeling on the other side is euphoria!


  1. oh elizabeth, mine was going to the club. we live next door to it but i always had to drive as i could not walk that far. i am younger than most of the members and being heavy (most of them are tiny old people, you know the ones). sarge would want to go play poker and i'd want to go to the club. he'd drop me off but i'd have to sit there over an hour to wait for my ladies. if only i had the nerve to ride the scooter! finally one day i did it! i parked it out back by the door and got off and walked in. on one said a word! now i ride over most every day! wonderful.

    i never worried about riding on a cruise ship because i didn't KNOW those people, you know? now i wear my tiara and go!

    smiles, bee

  2. There is a few seconds of unfounded fear for me every time I open my trunk to take out the scooter.

    But I have that same few seconds of unfounded fear anytime I know I will be in a group of people that I don't know. Which in Boise is all the time since I don't really know very many people here.

    I have never had anyone say anything rude to me while I have been scooting. No one has said anything negative to me about using a scooter. In fact my family was happy I "finally" got a scooter.

    The only possibly negative experience with the scooter was in Target when I caught a 17-18ish year old looking girl taking pictures of me with her camera phone... now mind you I have no idea why she is taking the pictures but when I looked at her she started pretending she was doing something else. So I picked up my camera phone and aimed it at her and acted like I was going to take her picture. The look on her face was priceless I wish I had actually taken her picture. She dropped her head and RAN to the next isle where I couldn't see her.

    It was kind of scary the first time I used my scooter at work. But yet again people proved me wrong. Everyone said positive things about the scooter if they said anything at all.

    Elizabeth I hope you are feeling better! Sorry to hear you have a sinus infection.