Mugs Shots: Walk like a man
I don’t own a car. As a result, I walk pretty much everywhere. Whenever I tell anyone this, I’m greeted with a wide range of emotions: polite interest, polite disinterest, shock and awe. Actually not much awe, now that I think about it.
That’s just because people haven’t stopped to consider the benefits, though. Here are a few, in no particular order.
– You save money on gas. Obvious, I know, but it provides an added side benefit: You experience a feeling of smug superiority whenever you walk past a gas station or hear someone complaining about the cost of gas. And a feeling of smug superiority is one of the best feelings to have. I think that’s one of the reasons religion has been so successful. Picturing all those sinners screaming in hell/reincarnated as a slug must give the faithful a huge boost.
– You get a chance to think. Look at all the stuff distracting you when you’re behind the wheel: radio, cell phone, kid in the backseat, keeping your hands at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, that jerk who’s tailgating you, that jerk who’s going 35 in a 40 and making you late for work even though you’re tailgating, etc.
In contrast, walking is conducive to all kinds of deep thinking. Just in the past couple of months, I’ve come up with a recipe for mashed-potato enchiladas, the script for a buddy movie about a logger and a sentient fir tree who team up to save the world from aliens, and the idea for this blog. If you’re scoffing, that just means you haven’t tried my enchiladas.
– You get some exercise. So you’re in better shape when you die. I hear that’s big with some people.
– You get a chance to interact with people in a new way. I’ve been offered rides by three strangers since I arrived in Colorado. This always gives me a tremendous feeling about the brotherhood of man (and woman if one is being politically correct, which I strive to do), but that is only part of what I was talking about.
I’ll give you an example. I was walking by one of the exits from the Eaglebend Apartments. I arrived at the intersection just before a car, forcing the driver to yield and giving me a feeling of smug superiority. As I was walking away but still within hearing distance, the driver yelled at me loudly. In Spanish. I hardly remember any of the swear words I learned from the Mexican guys on my high school cross country team, but I’m 99 percent sure he was cursing at me. Far from being offended, I was thrilled. Had we both been driving our cars and later met in the City Market checkout line, we probably wouldn’t have interacted at all. This way, we both got to expand our horizons, a beautiful thing.
As a side note, if the language Nazis push through some kind of laws mandating that everyone speak English with a Nascar accent, that means I’ll be able to understand what the drivers are saying when they swear at me. (Unless it’s a particularly thick Nascar accent, of course.) That would hurt my feelings. So let’s not do that, OK?
– If the cars stage a revolution against the humans and Emilio Estevez isn’t around to save everyone a la “Maximum Overdrive,” I won’t have a car specifically coming after me for years of abuse and poor ownership. OK, that one was a bit of a reach.
– You get to observe interesting facets of human nature. For instance, when I’m waiting to cross the street at a roundabout, sometimes the driver of the nice car will let me through and sometimes not. Sometimes the driver of the old beater will let me through and sometimes not. Hummers, however, never let me through. The moral of the story? Hummer drivers are inconsiderate.
This probably won’t be news to anyone in the future when the polar ice has melted, we’re all being terrorized by Dennis Hopper and his band of ex-Hummer drivers, the fate of the world rests in the hands of Kevin Costner, and we’re forced to drink all manner of unsavory things. We people who walk, though, we already realize how inconsiderate Hummer drivers are.
There’s some other benefits, too, but I forget them. It might be because I’ve been walking everywhere, and my brain is a little cooked from all that exercise and sun. At any rate, as you can see, walking is pretty cool. You should give it a try.
Copy Editor Mugs Scherer walks pretty much everywhere. He appreciates it when people honk at him. He can be reached at 748-2924 or email@example.com.
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