I woke up feeling pretty good today. I crawled out of bed relatively early (i.e., before noon), ate breakfast, and worked. Jason has been working on a custom paint job for my road bike (happy bday to me!), and he went to his parents’ house to work on it. Biscuit tagged along with him to play with their dog–the only other dog in the world he gets along with.
I stayed behind and worked some more. I soon declared, to no one in particular, that a productive day such as this deserved a reward! And that’s when my adventure began. I just didn’t know it yet.
A short walk to get a mega millions lottery ticket (spoiler alert: I did NOT win the lottery)
I gathered my things and walked out the door. Except, I didn’t make it to the sidewalk because I. HAD. A PACKAGE!
You’ve Got Mail!
Remember that? Logging into AOL (weeee-ooohh–ehhhhh–kkuusshhh) and seeing that ‘mailbox full’ icon pop up? Ahh, that used to bring me such inexplicable joy.
I was always that way, even before electronic mail became a thing. I loved getting letters and cards in the mail. Now that I’m an adult, I am more weary of regular envelopes (read: bills), but the thrill of receiving a package has yet to diminish.
My walk would have to wait. I rushed back inside and tore it open. It was my gift card from Performance Bicycle for the comment I left on their blog and *BONUS!* a water bottle!!
All happy from the surprise gift, I continued on with my walk. I went for a couple blocks and started munching on a fruit snack, listening to Incubus. Once finished, I tucked the empty wrapper into my back pocket…
…where my keys should have been. Should being the operative word.
So let’s recap:
What To Do?
I texted Jason, “You’re gonna hate me, but I locked myself outside!” and pictured waiting on the stoop for his return, with him irritated from the 40-minute round trip I just caused him to endure. But as soon as I hit send, an idea came to mind. His parents’ house isn’t that far…maybe I could walk? In fact, maybe that long walk will be my reward! Besides, I had just enough cash in case I get too tired and want to hop on a bus.
I updated him on my decision “I’m gonna try to walk to your parents house” at the same time he texted “Ok I’ll be right there then.” followed by “I’m driving there, stay there.” A quick phone call later, where he learned that no, I was not still in my PJs like he last saw me, and it was settled. The sweetheart that he is, there was no irritation in his voice. As it turned out, he had to go get some tools anyway so we would touch base when he was done shopping.
I stomped on. Marching down the side streets of Chicago on my 4.4 mile journey. A bunch of drivers got to see my cool water bottle holder as I pondered life’s meaning on this sunny, hot, August day.
Cars Are LOUD!
I avoided busy roads as much as possible, but no matter where I was I could hear traffic. It made me think…You don’t realize how loud you are when in you’re in a car, and it’s hard to notice how loud traffic is when you’re on a bike fighting for your life. But, as a pedestrian on a stroll, the swoosh and roars were ubiquitous and overwhelming. It was quite unpleasant and made it difficult to enjoy my time outside.
Stop Signs Will Melt Your Tires
At least, that’s how most drivers seemed to approach them. With all the grumbling about how cyclists don’t obey traffic laws, you would think that it would be a rare sight to see drivers violate these laws. Unfortunately, that was not the case during my walk today (nor is that my experience in over the past 10+ years driving). Countless people roared by me on a side street, tapped their brakes at the stop sign, and continued to roar through.
I thought about this hypocrisy a lot on my walk. I never like to argue that two wrongs make a right–that people shouldn’t criticize cyclists for breaking the law because drivers do too. Still, I thought about how, as a pedestrian, I would much rather take my chances with being slammed into by a bike than a car. In the abstract this, of course, makes sense. But, I was really picturing it–feeling it as best I could.
So, no, just because drivers blow stop signs doesn’t mean that cyclists should too. What it does mean, though, is that the degree of law abiding behavior should have no bearing on cycling infrastructure if it doesn’t on driving infrastructure. It also means that the reasons for our laws should be analyzed and applied to the intended group. It’s a much larger public safety issue for a driver to speed through a stop sign than it is for a cyclist to do so.
But I digress…
So I Walked
And walked. And I did well in spite of my heavy cotton shirt weighing down on me in the hot sun. In spite of the sprinklers I had to dodge because I was wearing a white shirt. In spite of my stupid headphones that made my iPod skip around, leaving me without music to entertain myself. In spite of my aching knee and the realization that I haven’t walked more than 2 miles since…um…ever?
There was, at least, a cute bunny along the way.
I walked 3.4 miles before Jason called me to find out where I was. As it turned out, he was at the same spot! Serendipity! I could have gone all the way, I think, but the convenience (and air conditioning) was too great to turn down.
A Good Day
I took a long walk, saw my bike in progress, had a nice dinner with the in-laws, and got to watch my favorite two dogs play together.
Not a bad reward, after all.