Out Walking

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment when it wasn’t raining, I decided to take a quick walk. I don’t think I was the only one to take advantage of the few minutes of sun.

As I got to the back street a couple of blocks behind our house, I began to run into other people that were out for a run or walk.

The first person I crossed paths with was a guy that was running. As I approached him, I stepped off of the sidewalk to my right. After all, he had way more momentum going than I did. (Of course, at my age, if you stop your momentum, no matter how limited, you might never start back up again!) He did not acknowledge me at all.

The next person I came across was a lady with a stroller. Again, as she approached me, I stepped off of the sidewalk to the right and smiled. Again, no acknowledgement.

I continued on my trek and before long came across another woman with a stroller, this time a double stroller with two babies. This contraption spilled out over the edges of the sidewalk, so I again stepped WAY over to the right to let her pass. When I said, Hello, again I got no response.

Less than a block later I saw another double wide stroller barreling towards me, but this time, the lady also had a dog on a  leash trotting along beside. They were taking up the entire sidewalk and spilled out onto the grass on either side of them. I decided to turn up the side street to my right and avoid this crew all together.

A couple of days later I decided to walk to get my hair cut. The tropical storm had finally moved on and it was actually a pretty day. I put on my walking shoes and set out.

This time I did not encounter any strollers, but I did pass other walkers in the park I cut through and on the street. I spoke to each one and got no reply. Each one of the people I passed was looking intently at their phones.

One lady had her small dog with her. As she stepped out from her apartment in front of me, she dragged the poor dog along, all the while scanning her phone. I could have passed her easily, but stayed behind for a while.

Each time the dog squatted down to do what I assume he was brought out to do, the lady would yank the leash and keep walking. Finally I had enough and walked past her.

Today I decided to start the day off with another walk. I took the same route I had on the first walk I told you about. Again, as soon as I got on the back street a couple of blocks from my house, I began to pass people. The first guy I came to was again running, so I moved to the right to let him pass. He did not respond to my hello and small wave, but stayed right in the middle of the sidewalk, not giving an inch and not even smiling back. I guess a change in facial expression or a kind word might throw off his aerodynamics.

The second group I came to consisted of two young women in their early 20’s I would guess. They walked side by side and took up the whole sidewalk. They chatted away as they approached me. I decided that I was not going to step on to the grass this time, I was going to stay on the sidewalk way over to the right and that then they would do the same, or get one in front of the other to pass me.

They did not.

As they got within a couple of feet of me, they never quit talking, never moved over and at the last second as I tried to say hello, I realized I could either step onto the grass or get run over. So I stepped over as I said, “good to see you out.”

Again, no response, no look my way, nothing.

Once again, I decided to turn up the side street and come on home.

I guess I am officially an old person. I still think you should speak to the people you pass on the street. I think a smile can change someone’s day. I think that common courtesy should still be common. I think that neighbors should know neighbors and even if you don’t live right next door, you are still my neighbor.

I think people who take their dogs out to do their business should a) let the dog do its business, b) enjoy being out with their dog and not pay more attention to their phone, and c) be aware of weird old ladies walking behind them for blocks, they could be dangerous!

I think that any time you can step aside for someone, speak a kind work or show compassion, you should do it. Even if no one else is. Even if it means you are old and out of step.

But sometimes, enough is enough and you just come on home where the water is cold and the air conditioner is on.

I love to go out walking. I had one of our ministers a long time ago say that he never knew someone who walked with such pure joy just because I could. And I am still thankful that I can walk. I hope that the longer I keep walking, the longer I will be able to keep walking. And I will be grateful for each step.

I just wish people would put down their phones and see what a lovely day it is, how pretty the flowers are and see that some old lady just wants to say hello.


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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.