After we had our second child, Son Number Two, as we lovingly refer to him, my wife caught me at an extreme moment of weakness and convinced me to buy a stroller. Not just any run-of-the-mill stroller, mind you, but the Cadillac of strollers. Dare I say, the Ferrari of strollers. The B.O.B.
Those of you without young kids are probably saying to yourselves, “What the heck is a B.O.B.?” That’s what I asked when my wife said she wanted one. (It turns out, the original name for the stroller was Beast of Burden, but it was shortened to B.O.B.) When my wife told me how much they cost, I politely told her that it would be a cold day in Hades before I ever spent that much on a stroller. She then started spouting statistics about the B.O.B. resale values. I laughed and said I would rather spend the extra $20 and buy a mid-sized car for the boys. She then began telling me how unbelievably agile they were. I told her that gazelles were agile, too, and it would cost less to have a live one trapped and shipped to our house from Africa on a chartered plane. We could put a leash and a saddle on it, and the boys could just ride it instead.
Then, apparently she drugged me, or hypnotized me, or something, because the next thing I knew I was at REI test-rolling a B.O.B. Revolution Duallie, and saying, “Man, this thing is easy to push and can turn on a dime! And I love the shocks. Plus, the front wheel locks, so I could take the kids jogging. Wow, this is a nice stroller! It’s like the baby-buggy equivalent of a Jeep or a Hummer! This thing could fit three kids in it. Tell me more about the resale values again, honey.” Ten minutes later we owned a B.O.B.
What can I say? They really are pretty awesome, as far as strollers go.
Anyway, I told you that story so I could tell you this one. We used the bejeezus out of that stroller over the next five years or so. I would have almost gone as far as to say we got our money’s worth out of it, but that’s hard to do with a stroller that costs as much as a home mortgage payment. However, when Son Number Three was no longer in need of too much parental mobility assistance, my wife sold our B.O.B. to a nice couple in town for a surprising amount of money. Turns out she was telling the truth about the whole resale value aspect of the B.O.B. phenomenon, and after I wrestled the stack of cash away from her, and bandaged the bite marks on my hand, I felt a lot better about the purchase five years earlier. We really did get our money’s worth!
Anyway, I told you that story so I could tell you this one. Somewhere along the way, the B.O.B. stroller people got our name and address, because I received a safety recall notice in the mail recently. Since we no longer own the stroller, normally I would have passed that information on to the new owners, but since the entire sale was brokered on Craig’s List and transacted in the parking lot at the mall with cash, I have absolutely no record of who we sold it to. Normally, I would be concerned that the new owners should really be alerted to a potential safety issue with something like this, but after reading the Safety Recall Notice, I am not very worried.
“Our records indicate that you may have purchased a BOB Stroller that may present a potential safety hazard. The stroller canopy’s embroidered logo’s backing patch can detach, posing a choking hazard to babies and young children and must be removed to safely use the stroller. BOB is recalling this product in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) and Health Canada.”
I looked at the recall repair instruction sheet included with the letter, and the logo’s backing patch is a soft piece of fabric about the size of man’s thumb. Holy cow, that is dangerous! Since sitting in a stroller is the only place on earth where small children would ever encounter a rogue piece of fabric, I can obviously see the CSPC’s concern on the matter. If a small child ever took enough time off from trying to eat their own shirt, or their stuffed animal’s arm, they might be tempted to swallow an embroidery backing patch. Oh, the horror!
I read the recall notice and was immediately disgusted with lawyers, yet again. Not insomuch for the ridiculousness of the recall itself, but for their sheer lack of initiative. A group of lawyers decided to spend their time and energy to target the B.O.B. stroller company on a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time and money, yet they were so pathetic and small-minded, the best they could come up with was an embroidery backing patch? Have they ever even seen a B.O.B. stroller? I mean, come on! This is one serious piece of hardware, folks.
It has over-center cam-locking latches to hold all three wheels on. A kid could crush his or her finger in those latches, if an adult were present to help them close them tight enough. It has sprocket-toothed gears on both rear wheel hubs that mesh with a spring-tensioned emergency brake bar that you flip down with your foot. If your child was lying under the stroller when you flipped the brake bar down, the spring tension alone would be enough to knock them out cold. And don’t even get me started on what might happen if the kid was riding in the underside cargo compartment while the stroller was moving and they reached out and grabbed one of the wheel hub gears or got their hand or arm between two of the five-point molded plastic wheel spokes. Emergency room, here we come. Then there’s the ever-present danger of over-inflated pneumatic tire explosions and their resulting debris cloud and associated hearing loss issues. Also, there is a pull cord on the back of the stroller, and when pulled hard enough, two latches let go, and the entire stroller folds in half for storage or travel. Did anyone think what might happen if a parent folded their child up in the stroller on accident? Hello internal injuries and claustrophobia! Plus, the entire stroller is just plain heavy. I’ll bet our Duallie model weighed a good 35 or 40 pounds. Talk about dangerous. Add a kid or two, and you’ve got a 120-pound rolling menace on your hands. What if you hit another kid with it, or your kid jumps out and gets run over?
All I’m saying here, lawyers, is apply yourselves a little more. I mean, if you’re really going to try and keep us all safe, let’s concentrate on the steak and not the peas!
I have a feeling if the Consumer Product Safety Commission really had their way, the embroidery backing patch on the shade canopy would probably be the only thing on the entire stroller that the good folks at B.O.B. would actually be allowed to sell.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen
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