Thursday, February 11, 2010

Words Words Words: Whatever Happened to Walking?

Whatever happened to walking? I don’t mean to get nostalgic, but walking used to mean something! People say they walk, but they don’t really walk. It’s like reading; reading a stop sign does not count as “reading.” Nowadays people walk for exercise or to appreciate nature. That’s stupid. I walk to get somewhere. Being a college student, I walk all over campus in order to get to class. Since it seems that I will never get a parking spot next to the building I live in, I actually have to walk ten minutes to get to my car in order to drive five more minutes to get to work.

It didn’t used to be this way. When I was a sophomore in high school, I didn’t have a car. Or a license. Or a simple understanding of how global economics works. Now I have two of those, I can look back with appreciation. I worked to a bookstore called The Mystery Company, which used to be located two miles from my high school. Sometimes I got a ride from a reluctant friend, but most of the time I walked that perilous journey alone. This is what I discovered during these months of walking: Nobody actually does it. Yes, there are sidewalks and, yes, there are traffic signals but most people forget it’s there like parsley. I received so many strange looks from passing cars. “Look at that boy. Is he homeless? I didn’t know sidewalks were open this late. Oh dear, he doesn’t even have an iPod. Honey, do we have any change to throw at him?”

I enjoy walking. It’s simple and relaxing. I have time to listen to various podcasts. No, I don’t like running. Running is pretentious. Running to get somewhere is like making business decisions on a cell phone loudly in an elevator. We get it! You’re important! This goes for exercisers too. Stop making me look bad.

Walking can also be an adventure. Oh yes, you doubting hypothetical readers.
As a youth walking to The Mystery Company, I walked through a blizzard and a thunderstorm, which according to the weather reports was the very tail end of Hurricane Katrina. (My kids are going to hate me.) Those were all fine and dandy, but didn’t properly prepare me for Ball State. I was under the impression that when it rains while cold, institutions would put salt on the ground to avoid icy paths. I am a fool. Today, the hike to my car was a bit hysterical. The entire campus was one giant sheet of ice. Everyone was slipping and sliding, but not in the fun summertime way. I tried to walk on the mulch to experience some traction, but even that was iced over. Ultimately I couldn’t even use my car because I couldn’t get out of the parking lot. There was a cop stationed in the parking lot writing up people who were accidently playing bumper car. Sure the campus could have used its resources to prevent accidents instead of reporting them, but we all know that’s silly.

I fear we only have a little bit of time left to walk. If Back to the Future Part II is as accurate as it seems, it’ll only be a few more years until we all have hoverboards. Then a few years later we’ll have the WALL-E hoverchairs. So you better walk now, while walking is what it is: uninviting and unpopular.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog. Too few people truly understand the pleasures of walking. I walked so much during the summer and fall that I felt physically ill if I went a day without walking. I've missed so many days of walking this winter that I feel ill once again.