Sunday, January 24, 2010

Auckland Zoo and the Mobility Scooter Saga

On Friday, I decided to head over to Auckland Zoo to try out my new camera. Parking the car, I limped into ticket booth and my ankle was sooooo sore just walking from the carpark to the entrance, that I decided to hire a mobility scooter from them.

At the information office, the conversation went something like this...

Me: "I'd like a mobility scooter if there's one free for today", pointing to my bandaged foot - "I have a sprained ankle and it might be easier for me to get around on one of the scooters"

Zoo Lady "Do you know how to drive one?"

Me: "I'm sure I can figure it out"

Zoo Lady: "Do you have a current drivers license"

Me: (very bemused) "Well I did drive to get here showing my car keys STILL in my hand"

Zoo Lady: "It $30 deposit which you get back when you return it"

Me: "That's fine" and I promptly pulled out my EFTPOS card to pay.

Zoo Lady: "Oh - it's EFTPOS - okay" so she wrote that down on the form. "We won't charge you then"

I started reading the form. I had to sign that I would *NOT* go into the Meercat Tunnels with the scooter. I found that hilarious too - anyone who has been in the Meercat tunnels would know that a mobility scooter would not FIT into the tunnels at all. There were a few more things I wasn't allowed to enter, but I didn't get a copy of the form, and once I had left the centre, I couldn't remember which ones they were.

Anyway - the long and short of it - I was shown what speed I was allowed to go (it was set with a pin so you couldn't go over that speed). There was a lever you press and the scooter goes. When you release the lever it stops. Another lever on the other side did the same for reverse. Hey - I need a current drivers license for that!!!! So I pressed the lever. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. My car goes somewhat faster than this!

Zoo lady then over-rode the pin and told me not to go into the 'red zone' as it would be too fast. She set it just before the red zone. I pressed the lever. Nothing happened. Finally she put it into the red zone and the mobility scooter started going. No faster she said. Now this was *slower* than walking pace. If I had been with anyone, they would have got very impatient at this speed.

Anyway, I decided to do as I was told and very very slowly took off. When I was out of sight of Zoo lady - I then upped the speed. A lot. Zoomed around the Zoo. I didn't kill anyone.

The mobility scooter was excellent for my sprained ankle, but I would love to remind Auckland Zoo that people who are disabled, are restricted only in mobility. Our brains work perfectly fine. I'm SURE that I do not need a current drivers license to buy one either, or in fact use it anywhere in any public place. I know of no ministry of transport mobility scooter exams, or road code. I truly believe it's simply courtesy and common sense you need to use one.

Whilst you provide an excellent service, you might like to overhaul the system a bit an stop treating people with mobility restrictions like idiots!


LifeWrecked said...

Great post Robyn! Had me ROTFL - what they require for one to use a glorified shopping cart (we have those here in the grocery stores - and no, they don't give you a drivers test LOL!)

L. Bell said...

It happened exactly that way for me too, Robyn. Except somehow they were satisfied when I said I had a learner's licence.

The speed they have them set on is painfully slow, I could have crawled around the zoo at a much faster pace.
Next time I go there I will take my own scooter and make sure it is Turbo-charged, but in an effort to keep them somewhat happy I will put a yellow flag at the back, with a Learner's plate, and a very loud warning horn, should anybody be game enough to get in my way!

Anonymous said...

I'll come with you and hire another one - although you will be able to go faster!

They were satisfied that I did have a drivers license, but my point was, they shouldn't have asked that question, as you don't need a current drivers license to ride one of these scooters.

Morgan said...

Oh my god - I think you, me and L.Bell will have to go together one day and ALL hire scooters and have a little fun. I'd like to ask that lady "Why can't you take it into the Meercat tunnels? It can be dismantled can't it?" I will have fun taking it back one part at a time with my excuse "Ahh sorry, I had a small problem with the scooter - I managed to get it apart OK but then discovered my IQ is not high enough to put it back together."

The logic of some people is truely astonishing. Clearly, for such imbeciles if you sprain your ankle one side effect is (obviously) that your IQ leaks out your ears until you have only the intellectual capacity of a squashed rodent pooh remaining. Perhaps the request for the driver's licence is to reassure themselves that some higher authority has already confirmed that you at least had a brain capable of mild comprehension before this unfortunate leakage occurred.

Oh, and thanks for the tip. I will use EFTPOS to get into the Zoo next time if this means you can get in free!

Anonymous said...

Yes - I have a huge problem with leaking IQ. My ear doctors have tried to plug it up to no avail. It's probably why I stuffed up with my breakfast yesterday morning!

The eftpos only works with the mobility scooter, not the zoo entrance! :)