While I’ve been in South Florida, I’ve been based on Hollywood beach. It’s really nice, got a lovely quiet beach, not too many people. One downside of this place though, it takes ages, and costs a fortune to get into Fort Lauderdale or Miami, so I’d be confined to the area I’m staying. This is also no good when the nearest dive shop is 30 minutes and $50 in a taxi!
The obvious solution to this is public transport. Well the public transport here is abysmal! So instead, I resorted for what is the most fun mode of transport available… A scooter! Yay!
So here she is, Lauren!
What a beast Lauren she is you may be thinking. Well you’d be thinking wrong. Lauren is a 49cc scooter, and can even get up to 50mph, but as she isn’t quite 50cc, she doesn’t require a license. This means that I got her by flashing my ID and my bank card. Super easy!
So anyway, on my way back from the cinema (in a mall, of course), it turned out Lauren wasn’t quite as reliable as first thought.
I came out of the mall parking, and saw some pretty serious lightning going on in the distance, and with a 25 minute ride back, I was shitting myself that I’d end up looking like a soggy dog riding a moped. Needless to say, pedal was to the metal (if you can say that with a bike?), and I was happily cruising home.
I was making good headway and was just about to leave the Miami Dade area and enter Hollywood, then guess what happens, yes that’s right, the curse of the US scooter returns, a police car pulls out of a side road and flashes it’s fairground of lights at me and plays what sounds like a Squarepusher song at me over the tanoid. I think it may have been a modern take on a siren, but not so sure.
So I pull over, get off the scooter and wait for the all powerful police officer to come over and dole out some police brutality on me. Rather than getting a beating, I was told to hold my arms high in the air. That’s right, because a guy on a rental scooter looks like he’s going to make a fool out of the cop by shooting, stabbing or judo chopping him until he was down. There I am with my arms raised, the cop comes over all high and mighty, shining his torch in my face and demands my license. I rummage around in my pocket for my license and pass it over. “What the fuck is this?!” he shouts at me. I tell him it’s a UK license. At this point, after already having held my hands up and having a torch shone in my face, I can now confirm the cop is a complete dick! Why can I confirm this at this moment in time? Because this is the point when he told me that I should have a state of Florida driving license!
I did the usual conforming, played a little ‘yes sir, no sir’ with him, answered his questions about how long I would be staying in the US (3 more nights I said, 3 too many he said. Knob), and then finally got told what I was pulled over for.
All of this showmanship was apparently required just to tell me that my tail light was out! He could have just wound his window down and given me a little bit of friendly advice, but no, he had to make me look like a criminal at the side of the road and himself look like a heroic ambassador of the law to people driving by. At this point he let me go. Feeling a little downtrodden I had to look at the bright side of things, and how much of an arsehole he actually looked. And thank god I did, because if I went away feeling like I was a lawbreaker and he wasn’t a dick, I would have probably died of embarrassment with what happened next.
I hopped back on the scooter, aiming to set off back home and what do you know… The scooter won’t start! After 5 minutes of being stood in the road in front of Officer FlauntYourPower’s car, trying to kick start Lauren, I decided the best idea was to move it onto the pavement and avoid giving him an excuse to make me lay spread eagle face down on the ground for obstructing traffic.
After 10 more minutes of battling with the scooter on the pavement, I got it going, made it home and hit the hay.
The following day I had an appointment at 10.30 at a location about half an hour away. I set off with an hour just incase the scooter decided it didn’t want to play again. I got it about 1/3rd of the way, and it decided to really stop working for me. Brilliant, just brilliant!
Called the hire company, got a replacement delivered to where I was and got back on my way. My replacement scooter is called Oxana. Oxana didn’t help my timing situation, I was an hour late.
Oxana is also shit! The fuel gage doesn’t work, meaning I had to walk the scooter to a petrol station twice to get it filled as it just cut out with no warning and wouldn’t start again until it got juice. And to top it all off, my latest discovery was that the headlight doesn’t work on it! Luckily I didn’t get pulled over with the light problem this time!
I’ve still got Oxana, and however much I need her as a runabout, I’m very tempted to push it straight into the sea if there’s another problem with it!
I never normally do this, but in this scenario I can quite happily recommend people to NOT use the scooter hire company! The company is called Yachty Rentals, and their website can be found at yachtyrentals.com (don’t be deceived by the flashy website… They’re shite!)
I’ve rode scooters in various countries now (Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka), and every scooter I’ve had has been leaps and bounds better than the ones from here, and also at a fraction of the cost!
To sum up: scooter 1 in New York resulted in me illegally being escorted on it by the police only to wait in a police station for an hour and a half; scooter 2 resulted in being pulled over by a power mad cop and pulling my hair out due to its uselessness; scooter 3 is still work in progress, but seems to be equally as much trouble as the other 2 scooters I’ve come into contact with while in the US.
Moral of the story? Don’t go near scooters in USA! They’re cursed!