by Bjorn Thorstad
Conventional wisdom holds the way to earn success is by lots of hard work. This philosophy on it’s own always struck me as aggressively proletariat and a tad oxymoronic. Success as I’ve come appreciate it wants a sense of balance, ease and play. That isn’t to say it doesn’t require a lot of work to achieve great things, but why should work necessarily be hard? I never got that. I don’t envy people who have a hard time in life, so why should I emulate anyone who has a hard time at work? I admire people who move through the world with ease, and I marvel at those who make difficult tasks look easy. So, I reject the notion that work must be hard in order for it to be worthwhile. Why create an uphill battle for yourself by assuming difficulty from the outset? If you buy into the idea that practice makes better, then practice difficulty and you’ll get good at it. Conversely, if you practice ease, well, you might just get good at that too. Even if you’re addicted to work and spend every waking hour in pursuit of lofty career dreams, why not dedicate yourself to the idea that work could be fun and easy?
A few years ago I ran into my friend Brian who like me, does a lot of walking to, from and between meetings and appointments. He walked into the reception area where a bunch of us were congregated one afternoon carrying a fold up adult scooter, and I swear the moment he crossed the threshold, angels started to sing. Heavenly light surrounded him. He was a harbinger of better times to come. I asked him about this scooter he carried. Where did he get it? How much did it weigh? How often did he ride it? How seamless was it getting on and off the subway? What impact did it have on his life overall? The answers Brian gave astonished and inspired. I was sold. I had to have one.
Two years went by before I did anything about it, though, more than a decade total of pavement pounding in New York City, and then one day my knees literally gave out. For two whole days I was virtually bedridden. I couldn’t walk around without considerable discomfort and it was due entirely to impact trauma from excessive walking on cement. Even inserts could only do so much. If I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t get around. If I couldn’t get around, I couldn’t work. My entire livelihood was on the line. It was time to get wheels.
After conducting a little research, I decided on the Xooter brand adult scooter and went down to a little bike shop in the West village right on the West Side Highway where they sell them and put down the $270 it cost to get myself rolling. It was an insignificant price to pay for the results, which have been absolutely life transforming. The scooter paid for itself in just a few weeks. Never mind the 60% time savings everywhere I used to walk. Already I’m on track to save over $1,000 this year in cab fares. A cross-town walk that used to take 20 minutes is now a 7 minute scoot. No more carrying groceries. Bags hang on the handle bars and the scooter does all the work. There’s no more sitting in traffic. I zip past cars backed up for blocks. A surfeit of Bloomberg’s bike lanes all over the city makes the streets super scooter friendly and as long as you keep your speed down to the pace of a slow jog, no one seems to mind the use of sidewalks. “Faster than running and easier than walking,” I like to say.
There’s also increased range. Because I can cover 20 short blocks in 7 minutes, my immediate neighborhood got a whole lot bigger. If you make a wrong turn, back tracking is no big deal. If getting to an express stop meant walking 10 more blocks, before I’d settle for the nearest local train station. Now, I’ll scoot the extra blocks in less time it would take to walk to the local and be up and down town in a flash. Multiple appointments on opposite ends of the city used to be a scheduling nightmare, now it’s a delight. The city feels smaller and time feels like it’s always on my side.
There are the physiological implications as well. You know that feeling you have at the end of a long day, like the city just beat the living daylights out of you? Turns out it’s not the city, it’s you. Thousands upon thousands of foot strikes against unforgiving cement sidewalks take their toll on your joints and in particular the lower back. Scooting as an alternative to walking everywhere didn’t just spare my knees and joints, I noticed back pain associated with long days on my feet vanish. I get home after a long day now with reserves of energy and invigorated like after a good workout.
All of this is to say nothing about how much fun it is riding a scooter. I’ve joined the ranks of kids 15 -20 years my junior and when we scoot past each other we share a knowing glance. We’re on the inside of an elite group of city scramblers. We all get it. It’s about the open sidewalk, the wind in your hair, the look on peoples’ faces, all those poor walking saps plodding along - as you go effortlessly zipping by. It’s about fun. You’re having it and loving it. You’re flying in the face of convention, going against rules and defying everything you ever thought a commute had to be, and it seems so right.
These days I’m busier than ever, accomplishing more, covering more ground, working full time in two different industries, making more money, and yet work is a breeze and I’m literally gliding through life. Say what you want about the merits of hard work, making it fun and easier by scooting through life feels in a way like I've already retired.
XOOTER BRAND KICK SCOOTER SPECS:
Handlebar-mounted, lever-activated (front wheel) brake
Overall length (deployed): 35.4”
Wheel diameter: 7.1” (180mm);
Wheel base: 28.3” (720mm)
Handlebar height (from deck): 25” (min) – 38” (max)
Deck (max): width 7.9”; length 24”
Folded dimensions: 31.1” x 9.4” x 12.6” (at handlebar)
Maximum rider weight: 250 lbs., Weight: approx 10 lbs.
Google "Xooter" 'Razor" or "Adult Kick Scooter."
Available at many bike stores here in the city.