A Walk on The Wild Side

Posted on February 13, 2013 under Storytelling with no comments yet

I am completing eight months of rehab.  And it’s not what you might think at first blush.   I am rehabbing from running two marathons last spring.  My body strongly urged me to take an extended rest … as did my wife, so now my exercise consists mainly of walking.  I walk to and from work once a day and in my travels I have become a keen observer of sidewalk etiquette.  There is none.

A sidewalk used to be a place for safe passage but now it has become a freeway of out of control walkers, bikers and boarders.   I have learned to keep my head up.  I taught my children defensive driving and now I practice defensive walking.

Is there such a thing as the polite use of technology?   When we were kids, transistor radios were all the rage.   Who can forget ( or remember ) the “rocket radios” that we used to discreetly tuck into our shirt pockets to listen to a World Series ball game while sitting in class at school?   Today we are assaulted by technology as cell phones, iPods, iPads and tablets have become as ubiquitous as seagulls at a landfill.

I love walking down the sidewalk observing three teenagers walking abreast.  When they have their heads down and are madly texting, it is conceivable that they don’t notice me coming.  But when they are staring straight ahead and force you onto the road or an adjacent lawn, wouldn’t you just love to have a hockey stick and just give them the old butt end.

So many people who populate our sidewalks today are borderline zombies.  Listening to music on their iPods while simultaneously texting makes them impervious to other forms of life.  Their heads are usually down.  They wouldn’t remember Gordie Howe but if they did, they would know that elbows are used for things other than resting your arms.   I have threatened on numerous occasions to stand in the middle of the sidewalk and let a collision happen just to make a point.

All of these things are mildly annoying but certainly not life threatening. Today was one of those days that I didn’t have to worry about sharing the sidewalks with anyone.  To put it mildly, the walking conditions were challenging.   A mix of rain and heavy snow had rendered the sidewalk the consistency of pea soup.  Despite the valiant efforts of the town’s snow removal crew the sidewalks were a mess. School was cancelled and there wasn’t one other pedestrian on the two kilometre walk to work.  But there were vehicles on the road.

As I tiptoed my way down the sidewalk, trying to navigate lakes of slush, a truck came along going too fast for the conditions.  All of the other vehicles I met were respectful and slowed down to prevent me from having a slush bath.  Not this one.  The driver, with cigarette in one hand and a cell phone planted in his ear in the other, roared past.  Can you spell A.R.S.E.H.O.L.E.?

When my rehab ends, I plan to lace up my sneakers and head for the back roads where there are no sidewalks… or humans.



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