by Margaret Sutton
If you’ve ever been to the University of Florida, you’ve probably seen thousands of mopeds, motorcycles, and scooters, zipping up and down the streets of Gainesville. The reason this phenomenon exist is because it’s a lot easier to park a scooter on campus – or anywhere for that matter – than a full-size car. It’s not just students that ride them – professors and staff members also take advantage of the benefits of riding a scooter around town.
I inherited my scooter from a friend. When I first moved to Gainesville, I subleased my friend’s apartment, and her scooter was part of the package deal. The scooter has definitely been around the block a few times – my friend bought it as a used scooter, and the person before her bought it as a used scooter, etc. It is not the most beautiful, shiny scooter in the parking lot. In spite of her flaws, she gets me from work to class, and into the best parking spots on campus and in town. I’ve grown so fond of my scooter; I’ve named her Zeta, after my sorority. Her name is Zeta because of her blue color.
This past weekend, Zeta decided to go on an adventure without her owner.
I work for a late night program at the University of Florida. I was driving home early Saturday day morning, around 2:45 a.m., when I got a call from the Gainesville Police Department. The officer told me that he was waiting for me inside of my apartment’s parking garage.
Panic started to coarse through my body. My fiancé was in town, and I knew that he and my cousin had been hanging out downtown while I was at work. Were either of them hurt? Did one of my students get in an accident on the way home? Would the police department in town notify me if something happened to my parents – or my sister? A million scenarios went through my head.
Much to my relief, the real reason the police were at my doorstep was that my scooter was stolen from my parking garage while I was at work. The police officer said that it looked like the person that had my scooter broke open the front of the scooter, and hot wired it so that it would start with the kick start. This was how the person was able to operate my scooter without a key. The officer said the person with my scooter had a few other run-ins with the law – more serious than just stealing scooters.
I finally got back to bed around 4:00 a.m., sleeping peacefully knowing that Zeta was safely tucked in her spot in the parking garage. She’s covered in finger print dust and a little banged up, and the thief outfitted her with some “new” mirrors that don’t work as well as her original mirrors, but it’s nothing that my friends at the scooter shop can’t fix. I was also eternally grateful that when the police came to my door it wasn’t because my loved ones were hurt. It was just that my scooter needed a little adventure of her own.