Random RiNO Scooter Incident

This is a bit of a departure from my usual writing. You’ll find nothing here about entrepreneurs, wicked problems, or complex systems. This is just a story about something that happened last night.

It’s Saturday night. We had decided to order takeout from a place down on Larimer Street in Denver. (The photo above was taken on Larimer Street a week ago, and the art here is a feature of the “Crush Walls” week that has become an annual event.)

The restaurant’s mobile order app has a bug, so I had to place our order and make the trip to the restaurant on Larimer twice.

My first trip yielded just half of what I’d ordered. So with great difficulty I reordered a second time . Each time I tried to place the order, I’d select the desired item and quantity, and I’d look for some way to put it into the electronic “bag” option the mobile app usually presents. But the bag option was nowhere to be found.

Eventually I hacked my way to success by finding a previous order, selecting “reorder” and editing the quantity and the type of item I wanted. That worked. When the “order received” message came through, I waited another ten minutes till the appointed pick up time.

River North — RiNO — in Denver is a popular destination for young people. We live just a few blocks away; usually I’d walk, but we were hungry and the smoke from Colorado and other northwest fires was thick in the air. So I opted to ride my Buddy scooter. This is basically what my scooter looks like – though the exhaust/muffler on my buddy is after market.

This restaurant’s takeout was slammed. My order was supposed to have come up at 7:15 pm, but 25 minutes later I was still standing among a growing crowd of hungry and forgotten-looking customers who seemed, like me, to have placed orders that were now well past their expected delivery times.

This would be more bearable in ordinary times, but as I said, the smoke hung thick in the air here in Denver. A glance up over and beyond the Larimer buildings revealed an ominous looking orange moon colored by the residue and particulate matter of raging fires.

By 7:45 pm the order had come up. I grabbed the bag I’d ordered and hung it on the hook of my Buddy scooter.

But as I turned up a street to head home, I realized I was being followed. Closely.

Someone had come up behind me, and they were right on my bumper. This other vehicle had a single light, and I realized quickly that it was also a scooter, not one of those Lyft scooters people ride in a standing position, but a sit-down scooter very similar to mine – a Vespa, Buddy, or Kymco type – except this scooter was two tone, red and cream colored (thought it’s really too dark to see its colors very clearly, and the smoke in the air may have turned “white” into “cream”).

I can see the single headlight on this scooter, and it’s just a few feet behind me. I can think of no reason in the world for this. Something about this is not right.

With perhaps five blocks to go to traverse the distance between the restaurant where I stopped to pick up my take-out order and my home, this other scooter had come up behind me in just a block and was following far too closely. So I picked up a bit of speed. I figured if I was mistaken about being followed they’d fall behind. But if I was not, I’d find that out too – pretty quickly. They remained right on my bumper.

I reached a stop sign with them right behind. I twisted my right grip to accelerate cross the street at significant speed. The other scooter followed right behind me — again, and still far too closely —but my scooter is a 150cc and was obviously faster. I’d now reached my block, and if I was going to turn into my alley, I wanted some distance between me and him.

I should not have turned into my alley. The garage to our home opens on this alley. In retrospect leading someone who is following you, someone you don’t know — right to your garage and opening the door to your garage to provide ready access to your home — doesn’t seem like a bright move. It would have been far wiser for me to continue past. Note to self: don’t do that next time.

Still, in the moment, I’m thinking maybe this is no big deal. I look over my shoulder, and I notice that the other scooter has continued on the previous street. It isn’t coming down the alley behind me. That’s a relief, I think.

But as I use my remote to open my garage door, and pause to wait for the door to rise, I see they’ve decided to slow down, are backing up, and have indeed decided to follow me into my alley.

By now the light from the garage illuminating its interior. I’m on my scooter, poised to go in. But this scooter into the alley with the rider placing his scooter between me, my scooter, and my open garage door.

At this point, I’ve become pretty paranoid. I don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings about this person and what’s going to happen next. This is not someone I know. And they are quite intentionally blocking my path.

I speak first, “What the hell?!!”

Speaking aggressively, and still blocking my path, he says, “Someone stole my girlfriend’s scooter last night, a scooter just like yours. I thought you might have taken it.” (Note to reader: I bought my scooter seven years ago; most people who know me know that I ride a scooter most places I go in Denver.)

I can’t hear the rest of what this guy says to me, but I can’t pull into my garage. He’s still in the way. And he’s even more aggressive.

I tell him, “Look, I don’t know you. I have no way of knowing whether you’re the person who robbed our garage a few weeks ago and you’ve come back to see what’s left. You need to beat it and let me into my garage.”

He responds with this, “Well fuck you then, you old fart!” And he pulls away.

Today, the day after, as I recall the incident, I’m thinking to myself: “This guy has a girlfriend? Really?”

And I’m realizing there are so many people, and so many things about people that I don’t understand.

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Tom Higley

Tom Higley

Wicked Problems. Founder Opportunity Fit. Entrepreneur “success” at the intersection of ROI & impact. Co-founder & CEO, X Genesis. Founder 10.10.10. @tomhigley