Regarding my walking and this prompt here.
For those of you too lazy to click the link, it’s another of those one-word prompts: stroll. Now, I figured I may as well use this opportunity to talk about my journey to and from work.
As you may have guessed by now, I get to work by foot. For context, my workplace (Waterstones) is about 15 minutes away from my house as of our move last year, making it extremely convenient and cheap to get there each week. My journey starts in the residential stage – the new estate I live on, featuring uneven roads with strange bends, people parking in utterly idiotic places, drivers not understanding the concept of a speed limit, and things broken everywhere where the builders have accidentally destroyed something that was supposed to look pretty. Ah, the joys of living in the city.
Today, there was no pavement.
Yes indeed, the pavement at the estate entrance, right where there is a very busy and potentially dangerous junction, had been completely ripped up so that the builders could install the pipes and cables to the unfinished houses on that side of the road. Where I normally walk is a gaping trench that you certainly wouldn’t want a child to fall into, meaning everyone had to take the lesser danger of walking on the tarmac itself, through a narrow pedestrian channel that was both long and in no way wide enough for two people to pass by each other. There was awkwardness when someone wanted to go the other way as I was leaving, let me tell you.
Well, one nightmare over. Now to the second – a bridge spanning the river, a strange lumpy crossing that my sister and I still discuss over whether it actually counts as two bridges or not. It’s a horrific thing that was made during the era of the city being ‘upgraded’ back in the last century, a companion piece to the many other disastrous buildings in the city centre. This bridge is a concrete construction, painted white and remaining that way for only a day, I suspect, now looking very lovely and stained. This bridge is pure Hell – in the winter it offers no protection from the howling wind (which has nearly knocked me over the side before) and in the summer there is not only no shade, but the bridge somehow manages to magnify the heat to an unbearable point wherein it becomes almost impossible to cross. Not to mention there was something that looked suspiciously like human faeces on the footpath today.
Once the bridge has been traversed there is a sequence of crossings to navigate. The first two take forever for the lights to change, are not blind friendly at all and are immensely tedious – but thankfully, on a Sunday there is not much traffic and one doesn’t necessarily have to push the button. The journey is uphill from here, figuratively speaking. The run-up to the second crossing is shaded, though plagued with people who don’t understand the bike ban in the centre of town, and the crossing itself – though dangerous because cars don’t always stop when they should – is remarkably predictable and gives plenty of time for everyone to cross. After that, it’s more trees and shade and shops on both sides, then there’s that little black-painted bookshop I call work.
That’s the physical journey. On the way home it’s the same in reverse only with the added problem every few weeks (like today) of the enormous crowd pouring from the football stadium – which is, by the way, at the estate entrance, meaning they’re all going the opposite way from me. There’re police monitoring them but the occasional idiot still manages to run into the road or almost injures me (note the almost) and I suffer the odd check at the start of the estate as stewards refuse to believe I live there. I can’t fault them for trying to do their job, of course, but I’d appreciate it if they used their eyes, given that it’s plain I am not part of the footie cult.
This was my day. 15 minutes out, 20 back; sweltering heat and the ever-present possibility of a drunken riot. Simple enough.
I like walking. I really do, despite how lazy I say I am. Walking is fun, in the right conditions, and it’s cheap and it’s relatively predictable. There’s a small hitch in walking with me though… I say the journey is 15 minutes. I ought to be saying that’s 15 minutes at my standard pace – for anyone else that journey is 20-25 (sans football crowd) and if I’m late I manage it in under 10 minutes. I walk fast. Really fast. It actually pains me to walk with family and friends because they’re all going a ‘normal’ speed, which to me is like being beside a tortoise.
Anyone who’s known me long enough probably already knows that I am impatient when it comes to walking, and I often disguise it as not wanting to be late for something when I am in the beginning stages of friendship. This speedy habit originates from my secondary school – which I shall henceforth dub K School, like the classy person I am – where, for some reason, everybody walks quickly. I blame the 5 minute movement space between lessons, even when you have to go from the music department to the English block (complete opposite sides of the compound). Well, that and the 1.6 mile walk between the games field and the bus station which I had to undertake every week, crossing that distance in about 25 minutes. With a quick bit of maths, that meant I walked at about 4mph as opposed to the average 3.1mph, which sounds like a small difference but is immensely noticeable.
I’m not the only one afflicted with this. Should you ever spend the day with myself and my friend Hatter… well, you might not notice the problem at all because we adjust our speed for other people. But when it’s just us out and about, the dynamic duo, we cross ground at breakneck pace without a even considering how fast we’re going. As a fun experiment, maybe you should ask us to not bother with limiting ourselves and see how long you can keep up.
Walking is fun. My leisurely stroll is your ordinary speed. For someone with such short legs, I really make good time.