It's horrible, absolutely horrible. I think I killed BOB. Since adopting him last summer, BOB has been just about everywhere with us: picnics, the park, the swimming pool, the Indiana Sand Dunes, Kirtland, Palmyra, innumerable trips to Costco, church--you get the picture. BOB is a member of our family, our sixth child almost, our erstwhile packhorse, and my running companion.
BOB is our stroller.
For those of you unfamiliar with the wonder that is the BOB, it is a heavy-duty, smooth-rolling double-stroller that is just as comfortable cruising through the cavernous aisles at the local bulk-goods retailer as it is lulling my two youngest children to sleep while I go on any run longer than 30 minutes (I know for a fact that 30 minutes is the minimum, because this morning I went for a 29 minute and 39 second run with Jane, and she stayed awake the entire time, but I'm positive that she was a mere 21 seconds from blissful slumber). There is in fact a BOB stroller gang in and around Fairfax, Virginia--ladies, you know who you are--and heaven help the poor soul who tries to wrest the stroller from the hands of these devotees (I've heard that next Christmas they might be getting matching leather jackets). The BOB is, in my humble opinion, the best jogging stroller out there--and trust me, I've used at least four different kinds of two-seat jogging strollers, so I feel that at least Fox News could put me on a news program as a double-jogging-stroller expert with unassailable credentials. Bring on Glenn Beck, James Carville, Rush Limbaugh, or those ladies from The View; none of them can touch me when it comes to the finer points of this particular mode of transportation. Our family would throw our jackets or coats onto the stroller as we tooled around various stores or museums, and we've used it to get things from the car to the picnic tables at the park, so it's been incredibly useful. And did I mention that it rolls smooth, like butter?
My fondness for the BOB, however, pales in comparison to how much Mali loves this three-wheeled piece of stroller heaven from Boise, Idaho. When we moved to Thailand we were given an allotment of 1,000 pounds for things that would be shipped via air freight, thus getting to us in a matter of a couple of weeks vice the two months for the bulk of our possessions that are coming by sea. Mali deemed the BOB so important, so essential to our family's well-being, that she put it into our air freight, ahead of other things like pots and pans, linens, and extra underwear. She actually wanted to take it with us on the plane, but it's too big (32 pounds) and bulky--it won't fit through the airport's carry-on scanner--and the airlines won't gate-check it. When our air freight was delivered last Saturday the first thing Mali wanted to get out of the boxes was the stroller. I only have six dress shirts and a handful of neckties to wear to work, but Mali has her BOB--and as far as I'm concerned, that's okay.
So perhaps now you might have a teensy bit more appreciation for the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach when, as we got home from swimming today at about 12:30 (today is a public holiday in Thailand--the Queen's birthday and Mother's Day), I was pulling Jane and Benjamin up the front steps of our house and there was a grotesque"POP!" the back end of the BOB collapsed, and some glistening black cylinders rolled out from either side of the stroller. Let me say that neither Ben nor Jane were harmed, thank heaven. We quickly got all the kids inside and away from the carnage, and then I went back outside to the half-folded frame of our beloved BOB, fearing the absolute worst.
My examination revealed that the shock assembly had pulled apart (yes, my stroller has shocks--you got a problem with that?). The black cylinders were the rubber dampers that sit inside the shock springs, and they were covered with grease. Initially it looked to me like the screws holding the shocks had pulled through the plastic housing, the result of repeatedly pulling the stroller up the steps on the way to school (in Virginia) with two kids sitting in it. I left BOB's carcass laying in the shade of the carport and went inside to check online and see if I could order new shocks, which I happily discovered I can, from a company in Weed, California (I really just wanted to work Weed into this posting somehow--we've driven through Weed a couple of times on our way to Portland. It's a quaint mountain town along I-5 in northern California that just doesn't get a whole lotta love).
About half an hour later, after the kids had lunch and Mali had gone off to do some grocery shopping, I went back outside to look at the BOB again and see what might be done, short of putting him down and selling him to a glue factory. Closer inspection revealed that the plastic had not actually broken, but it had taken a some stress. I pulled out all the screws and put the shock assembly back together, but I gave the lower part a one quarter turn, so the holes were not lined up with the same ones they originally had been, and I reinserted the screws. Voila! Eureka! Shazzbot! I believe we are back in business! I do herefore promise, however, that I will not pull the BOB up any stairs while both kids are sitting in it. Benjamin will have to get out and climb the steps himself.
If not, there's always Weed, California.