The scooter I built tossed me on my ass the fifty day I rode it. I turned it too sharply, but even that was at least in part due to equipment failure. Because of a design error also on my part, it could not all be put down to operator error. It was still all my fault.
I experimented with the trike and found that lowering the center of gravity added a huge amount of stability to the trike. The first thing I did was to lower the seat. The second thing was to devise a way to stretch my legs out more to the front of the frame. That was accomplished by freezing the useless pedal in place. There by creating foot pegs lower than the frame of the bike.
Since every little thing helped, I decided to do one more thing. I rode the trike to the local thrift store. It was winter and after Christmas so they were in the mood to make a sale. I found a boy’s twenty inch bike in the rack. The manager agreed that if I paid the full price for the bike, I could remove just the wheels. He would dispose of the frame for me.
The way it worked out, I quickly and painlessly reduced the center of gravity and had two twenty four inch wheels left over. My plan was someday to make a bike trailer based on the international development council’s universal trailer plans.
With the new improved trike, I felt more comfortable testing it’s range. I was a bit heavier than the ideal rider, but I still easily got ten miles on the batteries. It was much more than I ever expected to ride the trike at one sitting.
“I see you have made some changes to you wheels,” the waitress commented.
“Yes I did I’m surprised you noticed. I’m not sure how it looks, but it has more stability,” I suggested.
“It looks just fine honey. Beside you told me that form follows function,” she said.
“That is true. So how about a burger,” I said.
“You realize you could get the same burger at a fast food joint for a third less, and no tip necessary,” she said.
“Yes but I would miss the chance to flirt with a beautiful woman,” I explained smiling.
“Right,” she said. “You want fries with that load of crap?”
“No, I’m trying to cut back,” I replied. She left and I gave some thought to the exchange. I found that the human contact indeed had a monetary value. It wasn’t a new concept, but one I had never acknowledged.
Once I no longer felt the chill, I began to shed clothes. First to come off was my fleece lined nylon parka. It was a left over from my truck driving days. It had been great when I needed to lower the window to get the cold air to keep me awake. Next came the heavy sweat shirt with cut off sleeves. I chose it to keep my core body heat in without making my arms bulky.
I chose not to remove my long sleeve sweat shirt, or my long sleeve thermal shirt The two were designed to keep the dead air from passing through. Of course I didn’t remove my short sleeved cotton tee shirt. I wore it to absorb moisture. It was supposed to be the right combination of clothing for maximum insulation. In the short time I wore it I found the combination very effective.
Of course I wore a one sized too large pair of jeans with long thermal underwear. Under the bike helmet I wore a knit cap and neck warmer which covered my nose. I looked like an abominable snow man, but I had made a ten mile ride that very morning. The ride had gone just fine all the way along. It was true that preparation was the foundation of all success.
“Larry tell me something. You flirt with me a couple of times a week, do you even know my name?” the waitress asked.
“No but I thought, if you didn’t stop me flirting, maybe one day you would tell me. It’s about the best for which an old man can hope,” I suggested. “The lesson for an old men is move slowly to prevent falling.”
“That another of your old man wisdom lessons?” She asked. She saw me nod then said, “Jewel.”
“That is a beautiful name and it suits you,” I said.
As she walked away I assessed her. She might have been five feet, five inches tall. Her body was very thin, probably from being on her feet a lot. She must have good self control, being able to resist gaining weight even around so much food. I especially liked her blond hair. It made her look young until one got close. Then she still look twenty year younger than me. Too large a cap to close, I decided.
My pile of clothes topped by the bike helmet made it easy to recognize the owner of the trike/scooter parked outside. I got my share of stares, which actually warmed my heart. It was a good feeling getting some approval from strangers.
A young teenaged boy walked over. “Mister is that your trike out front?” he said.
“It sure is son,” I said smiling. Jewel brought the burger just then.
“Did you build it?” he asked.
“Yes I built it. It wasn’t hard, but it’s still a work in progress. I am on a shakedown ride, testing some improvements I made.”
“Would you make me one?” he asked bravely.
“I’m afraid not. It is a little too dangerous to sell. Way to much liability for anyone to accept,” I explained.
“Well it sure is something. I would like to have it, if you change your mind,” He said.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said. I turned to the burger feeling somehow a little bit special. It was a good feeling.
After the burger I paid my bill then returned to the table to redress for the weather. With only eight blocks to go, I didn’t need it all, but I still put every piece in place. There was no reason to be uncomfortable, I had to carry it all home anyway. Jewel smiled at me on my way out of the diner. I smiled back of course.
I removed the battery pack from the trike, then covered it with the plastic tarp. I tied it down before taking my load into the house. I had the batteries and a double bag of nuts and bolts from the Home Depot store to maneuver into the house. Once the battery pack was charging, I checked my messages. I had turned off the phone before I left for the shake down ride.
There was only one message, it was from Ned Bailey another driver at the plant. The message was simple ... call me at home tonight after work ... I made a note of his number so that I could do that.
After a frozen spaghetti dinner with garlic toast made from a hamburger bun, I called Ned.
“Ned, what can I do for you?” I asked.
“First tell me how you are doing?” Ned asked.
“I’m doing just fine. How about you?” I asked.
“I’m doing good. I’m calling because my nephew Earl called me. He needs someone who can drive a Ford 350 box truck,” Ned said.
“You shouldn’t have any trouble with those,” I said.
“I know Larry but he wants someone he can call, who can drop everything to make the run. I got a full time job and a family. I just can’t promise that I can do it. Since the driver has to collect for the delivery, he wants someone he can trust. The delivery can require you to collect some serious money.”
“Ned there is something you aren’t telling me,” I said.
“Well Earl wants to meet with you Larry,” he said.