I'll be the first to admit I have a problem. I think we've been in possession of at least ten different strollers (two doubles, one jogger, three umbrellas, and four singles) at various times. Most of them we acquired free or spent very little for them (one was actually sitting by a dumpster, several were given to us by friends or through generous freecyclers, one was a Salvation Army purchase of $7.50). I think the most I've paid for one is $50 and that was for a practically new Sit N Stand with lots of bells and whistles. However, in my quest for an inexpensive, cupholder-laden, rolls-through-the-potholes-and-gravel-in-the-street stroller, we've had our share of duds.
The first incident occurred as E-girl, J-boy and I traversed our town to deliver a small bag of treasures to a friend. The walk was only about a mile in each direction. It was sunny and warm outside, the perfect day for a stroll, but it turned out to be a nightmare due to the stroller wheel falling off every time it hit uneven pavement. I think in the two miles, the wheel fell off 12 times, each time scaring J-boy and me half to death.
Our second incident took place as we were walking to Bible study one sunny Friday morning. Of course, we were late as usual, so I was walking at a quick pace. E-girl and J-boy were moving as fast as they could to keep up as I cheered them along. Baby A was the only child with the luxury of riding. About halway into our little journey, the stroller hit a bump and bottomed out. Unsure of exactly what had just happened, we stopped and I inspected the front of the stroller. To my surprise, the entire front wheel assembly, including the post that the wheel attaches to, had snapped in half. My heart sank. As I recovered from my disbelief of what had just happened, I realized that the incident couldn't have happened at a better time. We were standing directly in front of a friend's house! Thankfully, she was home and we tossed the stroller and the children into her pickup and sped off toward home.
I was so sad that that particular stroller had met its end. It was the first stroller we had owned: given to us by Romeo's sister and brother-in-law when we had E-girl. We had given it to his middle sister when they were expecting since we had acquired a double for the same reason. I never anticipated seeing it again. To my surprise, when we were visiting the sister who had originally given it to us, the stroller was on a trailer full of materials to be sent to the dump. I loved that stroller's ability to change from child facing forward to child facing backward for walking in sunny weather, so I asked if I might salvage it. They gave us the go-ahead, so we stuffed it into the van and proceeded to trek from Georgia to New Mexico. Romeo grumbled about having to transport it, but his tone changed a bit after he got pulled over by the highway patrol. We had the front seat and floorboard of the family carriage so crammed with boxes and the stroller that he could not get the insurance and registration paperwork out of the glove compartment without totally tearing the van apart. I think the patrolman had mercy on us and let us go with a laugh and a warning. Whew!
The latest stroller fiasco occurred in San Francisco while we were using a dear friend's jogging stroller. Romeo got the bright idea that we should walk back from the end of the trolley route to the beginning of the trolley route. Yes, uphill both ways! As we neared the top of the hill (funny how the hill just keeps going when you reach that point), the front wheel lodged itself down in one of the trolley track ruts. Of course, Romeo was going at a good pace, so the momentum of the stroller and the power of him pushing it popped the wheel off and forced the frame into a strange, mangled state. Thankfully, complete strangers came to the rescue since we were in the middle of an intersection. We wheelied over to the side to see if we could remount the wheel. (Of course, while we were working on the stroller, J-boy had to get his knee lodged in an iron fence.) No luck. So what did we do? Catch the next trolley? Nah, what fun would that be? With much whining and complaining, mostly from moi, we trudged back with Romeo dragging the stroller rickshaw-style in wheelie position. I have to admit, though, after we FINALLY made it to the top of the hill, I did rather enjoy the walk back. We got to see the crookedest road in the U.S. (Lombard Street) up close and personal. (I completely refused to walk down that one!) In addition, the views of the bay were amazing, and we had the ability to soak it in a little as we walked. Even with the stroller handicap, I can say in retrospect that the sightseeing was completely worth the sore quads and mild backache the following day.
author and copyright holder, Jon Sullivan