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Bad Segway

Listen, Segway. We've had a great run.

Well, "run" might not be the right phrasing. "Whiz along the sidewalk, almost knocking over an old woman" might. But I think it's time we put you down. You turned on your owner, and you're just a liability at this point, given that your only real function is to make police officers look more foolish than ever. Since police officers used to ride horses, which presumably stop pursuing miscreants on occasion to eat roughage or relieve themselves, that's saying something.


I remember how excited we all were when we brought you home. "This thing is going to revolutionize transportation," we told ourselves. "Using gyroscopes." That was how we always had pictured the future -- like the present, but with more gyroscopes! And, sure, you were fun to use. You were perfect for all of us out there who wished walking were more like standing. Riding a segway says, "I don't feel like walking, and I'm too out-of-shape to bike. But I'm still wearing a helmet, because I enjoy being mocked by passersby."

Sure, I rode you a few times. And it was delightful. You could move forwards and backwards at a moment's notice! I could feel those gyroscopes at work! I wanted to buy one, but I figured that if I were going to pay more than $500 for a segway, I would want the one that allowed me to get from conversations about the birds and the bees to conversations about anything else, such as how I was misspelling "segue" in order to make that joke.

But now you've turned on James Heselden, that interesting and thoughtful man who was generous enough to buy you. "Owner of Segway Segways off a cliff"? Wasn't that a headline in the Onion a few weeks ago?

This is deeply uncomfortable for everyone involved. We want to laugh. At the top of twitter right now is the remark from @wire "Owner of Segway company plunges off cliff in Segway accident. Plus... it remained upright during entire fall."

As Mel Brooks said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die." Replace that with "Segway off a cliff," and you should have some idea of the spate of jokes that are going to emerge from this. Who Segways off a cliff?

It's hard to figure out how to commemorate the brave owner of the Segway. I'm thinking of giving up the segue. Whenever I want to move from one topic to the other, I'll just jump abruptly.

Twitter is the Too-Sooner State. The worst thing about it is that it assembles 145 million people in one place, talking about the same things. For every 141 million people who would wait until, say, Thursday, to start making ill-timed jests about the owner of Segway falling off a cliff, there are those incorrigible 4 million who will start right away. If you held funerals on twitter, they would be terrible. For every hundred people sitting in respectful silence, there would be eight guys making erratically capitalized fart noises. It's strange that, now, the way you learn something has happened is by learning that @BorowitzReport has made a snarky 140-character remark about it. "Why are 'nuclear segways' funny?" I asked, logging on this morning. "Oh."

Still, so far, most of the responses have been expressing awe that this is a true story, not some sort of fictional concoction. Stephen Colbert testified before Congress last week -- in character! And Jon Stewart is having a Glenn Beck-style rally on the mall. Maybe fiction has decided to give up the fiction of being fiction. "Colbert testifies before congress... very comforting. Who could be scared in a world this surreal?" Rally4Sanity tweeted, this past Friday. Who indeed? Funny because it's true? How about true because it's funny?

I wish I could think of a transition to put here.

By Alexandra Petri  | September 27, 2010; 2:05 PM ET
Categories:  Petri, That's awkward  | Tags:  Segway, Too soon?  
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