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  • Writer's pictureRia Gualano

The Segway

Segway Tour 2.0. Source: Lan Gualano

It was December in the Cayman Islands, the year after my first Segway cruise excursion. Bent fingers made peace with the sky; my arms were flung upwards in triumph. My relaxed grin was as wide as the cinematic cerulean ocean behind me. A cocktail of salt and sand clung to the caked tires of my black Segway, and a comfortable air of confidence glued my feet to its platform. My red helmet hugged my head snuggly, two side pigtails crawling out from its sides. The memory from my first Segway trek scurried across my brain, causing my grin to broaden and my teeth to pop out just as the photo clicked.

I could envision it like it was yesterday. A voice boomed, “Stop! What are you doing? Are you trying to break your spine?”

I was all white knuckles and clenched teeth, staring at the judgmental Segway instructor through panicked, vacant eyes that darted between him and the dirt trail before me.

Exhausted and watch-less, I wanted to ask him how much longer my life would be flashing before my eyes, but my throat had jumped into my stomach and the words failed to materialize.

When my parents signed us up for the Segway excursion, I wondered about their potential motivations. Was this a push for me to finally learn to drive? Did they think I needed a 39th hobby? Were they having a mid-life crisis, leaving my fragile worldview shattered in the crossfire?

The answer: none of the above. This was confirmation.

Forget trouble in paradise. These people were trying to kill me in paradise.

I was not known for my extraordinary driving abilities. After somehow obtaining my license with a 50% stop sign accuracy rate, I had sworn an oath to never sit in the driver’s seat again. So, I mustered all the courage I could to keep my feet stuck to that Segway platform…of course, it helped that I didn’t know how to get off of it, anyways.

The Segway instructor motioned for me to follow him, and I fell back in line. My heart beat in time with rhythmic jolts from the boardwalk below. My entire body vibrated, and I took in blurred scenery as we passed. Palm trees stretched across the strip like light poles, bringing color and dimension to my frantic perspective.

Disappearing into thick clusters of trees, it felt like we had left the beach entirely and entered a rainforest full of strange creatures. Unfamiliar rattles and buzzes catapulted past my ears as if we were driving through a cloud of mosquitos. Halfway through, we stopped by a small body of murky water; when I leaned over it, a group of round, toothless sharks swam to the surface. I jumped back, hiding behind my father until we retrieved our Segways and continued bumping across trail after trail. I was sure we were starring in either a horror movie or a nature documentary.

When we reached the end of our route, a tilted hut with a straw roof, I exhaled for the first time in an hour. I’d never been happier to see a shack in my life.

There was just one problem left to tackle. My eyes bugged at the thought of having to free myself from my precarious grip on the Segway. The instructor smirked, nearing me.

“Here. Let me help you down.”

I felt warm hands close around my elbow and I closed my eyes, counting down.

“3, 2, 1.”

My feet pushed off and landed on solid ground. I sighed in relief, waving thanks to the instructor for saving my life. As my parents and I headed back to our ship, I paused and turned to face the ominous row of death machines. Stationary, they rested innocently against a brick wall, but I knew their true natures. I glowered, then whipped my head around and ran to catch up with my parents.

A year later, pulse racing, sand spilling into my shoes and crunching between my toes, ocean watching in anticipation, I began to ascend onto a Segway platform once more. Standing on it, slightly older and equipped with a fresh perspective, I understood the machine for what it truly was. A laugh bubbled in my chest.

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