Electric Easy Riders

I thought I was a dead man the first time it happened. Alone, I poked my car past the handicapped spaces and maneuvered on to the end of the rows of parked vehicles. There, I painstakingly parked my car. Locked its doors, marched toward the store entrance and was nearly turned into roadkill by one of them.

“Them” in this case was the driver of an electric shopping cart. Like Ricky Bobby with a Talladega Green Flag to Happy Hour he zipped up behind me. In the “Super-Speed-Way” of the parking lot he tried swapping paint with me and came within inches of taking my life.

He scared the bejesus out of me. Jumping sideways, I climbed the tailgate of an F-150 pickup truck. My chest tightened. He passed me. Gasping the dirty air of his wake, my legs went wobbly. Half-smiling, he scowled like I was “Off-The-Pace” and was impeding his progress. I thought it was checkered flag day for me. But thanks be to God I survived.

The second time I witnessed the antics of one of “them” I was out of harm’s way, but frightened no less. I’d taken my buddy to a Big Box Building Supplier. He’s a senior citizen, overweight and not nimble. I delivered him right up to the front door. After parking I met him inside. Like Dale Earnhardt Jr. waiting for the “Green Flag” he sat in an electric shopping cart. Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel he said, “What took you so long?” And before I could answer, he raced away yelling, “Okay. Meet me back here in 15 minutes.”

Like a bat out of hell, down the deep canyon of this mega store he breezed. At the first aisle intersection he didn’t slow down. Instead, he honked his horn and bellowed out a few unmentionable words. I feared another electric cart driver would t-bone him or worse, he’d hit a walking shopper. But the NASCAR Gods were good to him, and he made it safely through. No one was injured.

At the next intersection he didn’t honk his horn, but again, failed to slow down. He did something unbecoming and most unsportsmanlike. He shot the bird at a shopper who glared at him as he sped through the intersection.
True to his word, 15 minutes later he returned the electric cart/race car to the starting gate. While he paid out, I nervously brought my car to the store entrance, picked up my race driver friend and we crept away.

He’d enjoyed shopping, but complained about the sluggishness of the shopping cart and my driving. He said, “Speed it up old timer. I’ve got things to get done at home.”

My last frightening experience with an electric powered vehicle was at an unlikely place—a public library. The driver didn’t see me, and I didn’t hear his graveyard silent foreign car. No engine sound; only a muffled tire biting concrete vibration, as from a new bicycle. He almost did a bump-and-run maneuver on me.

I had just set one foot down from the curb when it happened. Out of nowhere a ghostly quiet car appeared. A gray-haired, bespectacled man resembling Mr. Magoo’s older brother sat inside. His car was so small, I couldn’t tell if he was driving the car or wearing it. As he sped by, nearly hitting me, I was speechless. And it all happened right there at the town’s Written Word Storage Building—the library.

My reaction to nearly being run over was the same as my first near miss: My heart skipped eight beats, my chest tightened and I felt the call of nature. I stumbled backwards.

Slumping down onto a nearby bench, I rested. After my heart stabilized and I regained mental clarity I got a little giddy about still being alive. I began pondering life’s many ironies. I thought to myself: I’m retired from a long, uninjured career as an electrical engineer. Wouldn’t my obituary be peculiar if God hadn’t protected me today: “Electrical engineer, after a safe 40 years on the job, was run over by an electric vehicle.”

Be careful out there! Those electric easy riders are everywhere.