Monday, March 23, 2009

At the controls

My brother-in-law, David, was borrowing this little Bobcat when we saw him this weekend. He didn't rent it. A friend of his owns it and lets David borrow it sometimes in exchange for maintenance work.

I think David might have been partly joking when he offered to let people at the party drive the thing, but I decided I wanted to try it and spoke up. We waited until the next day, when the rest of the party had gone home, and then went out to rearrange the ground in his back yard.

Here's David giving a bit of advice and me driving:

The "official" task was to take that little pile of dirt and go fill in a low spot, which I attempted at a rather timid, snail's pace, generally moving the wrong thing the wrong way before doing what I intended. I did avoid hitting a hose hookup, the one obstacle anywhere in the area, and I did get quite a bit more adept at it in just the ten minutes or so I shuttled dirt back and forth.

I won't be applying for any jobs as a heavy equipment operator anytime soon, but it was an awful lot of fun, and I'm glad I tried it. It's not the sort of thing I would usually do. I did not learn to drive until shortly after getting my bachelor's degree, for instance. And aren't these things for trained people who know what they're doing? But for ten minutes in an empty space I enjoyed it.

The controls are quite easy. There are two hand levers that independently change the speed of the wheels on either side, making it quite a nimble little machine. The left and right foot pedals lift and tilt the bucket, respectively.

It's not as visible as I'd like in the photo below, but these machines are not designed for short women. That's my little foot missing the foot pedal by a good 3-4 inches. I managed to operate it a little clumsily by scooting far forward in the seat and pointing my toes. If I had a job to do besides rearranging dirt, I'd probably strap some blocks of wood to the pedals, or something.

Anyhow, it was not my usual Sunday activity, which was probably why it was so much fun.

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