Mini-Rumination: Walking in the Suburbs

As a city boy, The Curmudgeon is accustomed to using his feet, not just his car, to get from place to place.  In his old neighborhood in Philadelphia, he could leave his car in his garage whenever it snowed and get pretty much anywhere he wanted by foot or by bus.  One of the things he misses most about his old neighborhood, in fact, is the Wawa three blocks away.  He used to enjoy walking there for a newspaper at lunch time.

In the suburbs, though, walking is uncommon – almost to the point of being frowned upon.  The Curmudgeon lives a half-mile from an auto service shop, so when he needs work or routine maintenance done on his car, he drops it off before work, walks home, and then returns either at lunch time or after work to pick it up and return home.  As he makes that walk, he can see the looks of wonder (“the guy’s walking?  really?”), disdain (“probably can’t afford a car”), and concern (“probably going to try to break into a house”) in the eyes of the drivers of the passing cars.

A few years ago a neighbor noticed The Curmudgeon walking home early one morning and asked where he had been.  When he explained, the neighbor said, “You walked?  You should’ve knocked on my door.  I would’ve been happy to give you a ride.”

A year later, The Curmudgeon had a similar conversation with another neighbor.

And then, recently, yet another similar conversation with this brother.

“What do you mean, you walk?”

“Um, I put one foot in front of the other?”

“But it’s pretty far.”

“A half-mile.”

“It seems longer.”

Suburbanites – go figure.

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