Segway

I’ve recently read no less than three articles where the word segue was incorrectly used/spelled, because a writer, trying to appear erudite, had no idea what he was writing.  The word, pronounced, Seg – Way, reminded me of the Segway scooter, the two-wheeled person mover, which balances on its tiptoes, by means of gyroscopes.  The company is located near H. E. Ellis’ pile of tires in New Hampster.

On their website, the company brags about being green because Segways produce no emissions, and shows a picture of a wind turbine, but most people plug it in to recharge from an electrical outlet supplied by a sulphur-laced coal-burning power plant.  They also list Segway racing.  I wondered how you hop up a Segway, until I found that they were sponsoring BMX motorcycle races.

When these things first appeared, almost 11 years ago, there were people who touted them as a game changer.  They were to completely revolutionise the personal transportation scene.  These cheerleader types were what I like to refer to as seriously demented.  These things cost almost $4,000.  For that kind of money, you can get a decent-sized second-hand automobile which will carry four people at sixty MPH, enclosed and protected from the weather.

The only places where they are bought and used, is at companies with large, sprawling buildings, and malls.  If you’ve seen Kevin James, in Paul Blart – Mall Cop, you have my sympathy and pity.  If you send me a stamped, self-addressed postcard, I will send you, absolutely free, your choice of either two tickets to his new movie, Zookeeper, or enough IQ points to get you up to being able to watch Lethal Weapon or Rush Hour movies.

The automotive Big Three try to bully their suppliers into using single-floor plants.  It obviates many potential problems of moving parts from floor to floor in case of power failure, or other emergencies.  My company’s Plant II, which they sold, was one floor.  Despite the Jeep plant in Toledo being five stories high, Chrysler urged our management to move to a single-floor facility.

Plants like that often use golf carts for management to get around.  They cost about as much as a Segway, but again, will carry up to four people and/or freight, move faster, and you ride sitting down.  Some buildings are so crowded with machinery or stored goods that golf carts are not useful.

I did two weeks of Monday to Friday, midnight security in a building where furniture for Electrohome was made, stereo and TV cabinets, as well as easy chairs and footstools.  They had a boiler in the plant which required a 24/7 rotation of Stationary Engineers, but for the two-week summer shut-down period, the place was empty, therefore, security guards.

To make the hourly security patrol around the vast, winding pedestrian walkway on foot would have taken almost an hour, and then it would be time to do it again, with no-one to answer the phone or watch the doors.  For the supervisors, they provided three or four pony-bikes.  Remember them?  Small bikes, banana seats, back wheel larger than the front, protruding, chopper-style steering!  I suppose it would have been possible to roll Segways around the twisty, narrow walkways, if they’d been available back then.  I did it with the pony bike.

My then teen-age son accompanied me for a couple of midnight shifts.  Like the big kids we both were, we brought along water pistols, and rode around trying to hit different targets on the fly.  We each earned a compliment from the other.  I have taken almost 350 hours of gun handling/safety training.  Despite playing with “only water-pistols” I controlled the muzzle, and never pointed it at anything I didn’t intend to shoot.  The son lauded me for that, and I returned the praise for having noticed, and learning to do the same.

The furniture moved from department to department on roller conveyors, 30 inches off the floor, some of them powered.  In the shipping department there was a roller ramp, where the pallets/boxes rolled down to the floor.  The second night the son came with me, I rolled into the shipping department on my little pony bike, with him right behind me.  I saw that roller ramp, and silliness ensued.  I rode my bike right up the ramp, and onto the conveyor system, and he followed me.

Soon, we were making the security rounds by riding on the rollers.  The bikes were short enough that any balance problems could be immediately solved, just by putting feet on the conveyor side rails, but that never happened.  You had to maintain modest, steady acceleration.  A sudden powerful push on the pedals produced a short stretch of wildly spinning rollers. I bet you can’t do that with a Segway.

You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.  A big part of security work is boredom, and how to combat it.  The employer hopes that as much energy and attention as possible is directed toward actual security of the facility, but, ya gotta have a little fun sometimes.  My son also accompanied me on a Friday night shift in a small-town, where they had an arena full of expensive boats for a weekend boat-show, and a broken lock on the back door.

For obvious reasons they didn’t give us the key to the refreshment stand area, but there were chairs inside, as well as paper cups and ice we wished to use for soft drinks we brought along.  Two curious monkeys investigated the stand.  I found one way in at the same time the son found a different way.  When two of the organizers staggered walked in around 2 AM, after closing a bar, we immediately waved to them.

After being asked, we pointed out the soft spots.  One could be fixed by having personnel reminded to lock the steel roll-down.  The other was a hole in a concrete wall, where they had inserted an easily moved popcorn machine.  Not so easily remedied.  Fix the damned lock on the back door!

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19 thoughts on “Segway

  1. benzeknees says:

    I always thought I would love a Segway, but now with Spina Bifida causing back problems, I think I would prefer a scooter.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      With the daughter’s mobility problems, she has a power wheel-chair. Segways have their place, but it’s a small place, for people strong enough to stand, and control them. I saw a video of the training area for a Seg-Way rental shop. One guy knocked himself down, ran over himself and then got dragged, while he ran into his friend. They’re fun, but not as simple, easy and intuitive as they’d like you to believe.

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  2. paulaacton says:

    the only ones I have ever seen were as part of a street show disguised as shopping trolleys with people dressed up as little old pretending to sit on them as they performed to music – I guessed you could call in synchronised segging – it was actually amusing to watch

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  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    Flitting thoughts as I read. Intelligence and security work are a mismatch. Idle hands are the devil’s tools. Increasing the complexity of technology can and does reduce efficiency. And, segueing into a related matter, electric cars not only require coal plants at the other end of the wire but have another big problem that will soon begin to land with a thud. Replacement batteries are not included, they cost big, big bucks and disposal of the used ones will not be trivial.

    An interesting post, Archon, as most of yours are.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Yes, proving I could move slowly and smoothly enough to get past a motion detector and into a restricted section of a warehouse was rewarding. Replacement and disposal of batteries has occurred to me. I wonder how many of the green tree-huggers have thought ahead. You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.

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  4. A couple of years ago, I did a Segway tour through a state park which was kind of cool. They are fun to ride, but it was for me more a novelty thing than something I would want to do again and again.

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  5. Oh, man, I did the security guard thing, too. Fortunately, I was alone, and since I tend to feed off other’s ridiculous suggestions, I actually managed to behave myself. Mostly. The collection of pop cans that tried to fly over the fence from the roof? No comment. 😀
    And think of it this way. Writing a proper segue can be hard. Wouldn’t it be easier to segue on a Segway? 😉

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  6. Archon's Den says:

    Sometime clients welcomed a second set of eyes, at no extra cost. Others felt single concentration was better. I didn’t include the son often, but in almost three years of security, he came along a number of times. I have another post in the can about him coming along at a different building. I’ll probably toss that one out after New Years. I tried to follow your comment, but I got my tang all tongueled up, and I couldn’t see what you were saying.

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  7. Daniel Digby says:

    In the last couple months, I saw an article in Yahoo News explaining what segueway [sic} means in music. I could find it before writing, but I did find the definition for segueway any several examples of how it should be used: http://www.wordnik.com/words/segueway.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Welcome back, and yes, that’s exactly what set this train in motion. I didn’t see that article, but I did see three examples of the wrong usage within a month. I guess we’ll just have to get used to another linguistic “wrong” becoming right.

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  8. Sightsnbytes says:

    I always wanted one of those segway thingies, but living in Newfoundland, I didn’t see where they would be useful. Our malls are so small I don’t even break a sweat walking them, and I don’t do security work. Our roads are either snow and ice covered, or filled with pot holes large enough to lose the segway into, so it wasn’t an option…so I opted for a 4X4 pickup, and never looked back. Each week I plug the gas pump into ‘er and in just minutes (and $70 bucks or so) I am on my way, plowing through the deepest snowbanks or dodging the worst potholes. Now if only they could invent a 4×4 Segway with giant snow tires, that would make sense. GREAT post, I enjoy it as always, sitting with my morning tea!

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Wasn’t “Segway” what you called the rusty Toyota?? Oh, no. You had other names for it. You could use a SegWay to roll over to KJ’s. They got bigger malls over there. They even have that Weston guy from President’s Choice, giving away creamcheese lollipops. I’ve helped the wife make black currant, red currant, and spiced peach jam, and I’ve had hawberry jam from Manitoulin Island. Is there a particular “Newfoundland” jam flavour with your breakfast tea?

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  9. Archon's Den says:

    Like schnitzel, I had to Wiki that one. Now I know more about them than I’ll probably ever need. I see why you’ve got them and I don’t. One of those, “If I ever win the lottery” things, if we ever get the chance to dory out to The Rock, I’ll give you a call first. You’d better have a jar waiting. Who made it up, you, the missus, or both?

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