Walk the Walk, Beat the Clock

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For most commutes to work in the morning, I choose to walk. For most commutes back home in the evening, I also choose to walk. Each way is roughly 45 minutes, meaning an hour and a half of my 24-hour day (some people, I hear, live days of different lengths) is spent getting to and from a place I have to be for at least eight hours anyway. Some think that is crazy, as I can catch one bus with stops ridiculously close to each location that takes 12 minutes each way. Others, who for classist and possibly racist reasons under the guise of “personal space issues” or “not liking the smells”, do not understand why anybody would do anything but drive their own car every day, completely ignorant of all the reasons that does not apply to me.

In bigger cities it’s not uncommon for people to live far enough from their place of work for their drive home to be just as long. In many cases that’s due to congested traffic, which I get to see and, if I choose, laugh at given the major roads my walking path goes alongside. In other cases that’s just because the city is sprawled out enough and demand for housing within convenient proximity to the common business areas we generally call “downtown” drives up market prices to unreasonable levels for anyone on a five- or even low six-figure household income with, you know, a family and kids smart enough to maybe go to university one day. That’s not much of an issue here, as the appeal of this urban oasis in the middle of perhaps the most boring flat plains in the world is a well-kept secret and so the city is of a modest size in population.

But sprawl is becoming ever more popular, and the surrounding grassland is being re-zoned beyond the city limits, in spite of the arson Dirk plans to commit once the houses are built. Surrounding farmland is not profitable enough to produce a sustainable family income without wives and even patriarch farmers themselves getting in-town jobs to supplement their agricultural cash. For many of these people the commute by car is the 45 minutes it takes me to walk, or even longer, but for them that time is spent sitting on their ass. (Flintstones-style vehicles where their feet do the moving have fallen out of style over the past several thousand years.)

I much prefer to save sitting on my ass for my leisure time, and commuting by foot allows me to justify that. It’s exercise, stress relief, an additional way to wake myself up, and a great way to keep my mind sharp with all the thoughts that come to my head when my legs are busy moving. I live downtown, with the borders defined in this era as between one river to the south, another to the east, and to the north and west where poor people live. When I’m crossing the bridge over the southern river I see a beautiful cityscape: to my right, the national park/rich cultural area called The Forks; to my left, a number of high rise apartment buildings lit up and full of life; and right in front of me the buildings that mark the development and established economy of any modern city.

It was easier to get home when I also worked downtown (in fact, I went home for lunch practically every day). In that sense, this walk is rather inconvenient. But if I didn’t walk as much as I did, I would be fatter than I already am, and I wouldn’t have these giant calves of steel that I like to show off from time to time. So I find it worth it. I don’t miss having a longer free-time evening, because I generally find myself out of things to do by about 9 pm when I put on my pajamas and read until I feel like sleeping. And then I wake up in the morning to get ready and head out for another day at work, not minding the cold because I know walking will keep me warm and not minding the traffic passing me by. Except, of course, when I get sprayed by dirty slush by giant trucks completely oblivious to others around them. That’s not such a great thing in the winter, particularly when the street crud gets in my mouth. Ew.

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