Day 41

racewalkersProfessionals in the world of walking like to divide walkers into groups and categories pertaining to speed, distance, preferred environment, purpose, race walking stats and even such variables as commuter walkers, recreational walkers, fitness walkers, etc.

With all due respect, I prefer to use my own categories. Here are a few I’ve come up with.  

Women Wearing Baseball Caps who are NOT Jessica Simpson:  Generally jessica_simpson_400x300 women in groups of three or more, these walkers do not believe in sidewalks. And who says they have to? Walking on the sidewalk is like coloring inside the lines: it’s for kindergarteners and sissies! 

Walk-and-Dial Brigade: I admit to driving and talking on the cell phone once or twice, but I prefer to walk unplugged and disconnected.  The few times I talked on the cell phone while walking I found myself practically shouting my intimacies as I ascended the hill above the iris gardens.  If you walk and dial, beware: it’s easy to forget that you’re out in public when you’re on the cell phone! 

 Old Couples Holding Hands: You’ve seen them — couples who’ve been married long enough to look alike, walk in step, and find there’s much to be said about the placement of the neighbor’s garbage cans or what’s on sale at the A&P. Don’t look at those people and snicker — if your marriage lasts that long and you still like going out for a daily pre-amble with your mate, you’ll be lucky. And you’ll be even luckier if you remember to be thankful.

People funny hatIn Funny Hats & Strange Shoes: Every town has one or two. Sometimes these people have bigger I.Q.s that the entire staff at your local tutoring center. Don’t pass judgement until you’ve walked a mile in their combat boots or canvas moccasins.

Wierd People Talking to Themselves: These are not generally crazy people, but artists, writers, actors, musicians, and painters who spend too much time alone indoors talking to themselves. Talking to one’s self outdoors is such a refreshing change of pace (” Isn’t that right, Laurie?”” Yes, I agree.”).

man with cellphoneHarried Commuters: Men and women whose long commute to work requires putting sole to pavement — generally done while in a rush, talking on the cell phone or into their blue tooth. That strange thing in their ear is what separates them from artists, painters, actors, and writers (see above) walking and talking to themselves.

Schoolchildren.  I always get a rush of nostalgia when I see them going to or from the schoolyard with a backpack and maybe a lacrosse or field hockey stick. Reminds me of the days when we used to play outside, ride our bikes, and not go home until our moms called us home for supper.

Canine educationDog Walkers: Of all the dedicated walking regulars, this is the most fanatical, friendly group of all. Once I realized they weren’t asking my name when they purred, now who’s this pretty girl?, I was able to relax and compliment their dogs in return. 

Rain or Shine: This is the category I prefer for myself, and yes, I do prefer to be cheerful about it. I understand this insistence on optimism is an American trait the French (and Barbara Ehrenreich) like to make fun of, but looking up and seeing the sky once a day, rain or shine, helps me stay upbeat.  For fitness, for friendship, for stress-and-fatigue busting benefits, walking is the least expensive, most transportable sport there is.

So…what kind of walker are you?