This week I’ve taken up walking to work. It’s about 32 minutes each way, and a little under four miles round-trip. WolframAlpha tells me I’m burning over 500 Calories (that’s kilo-calories for you Europeans). I hope to keep this up until hay fever season starts. It’s enjoyable, saves money, and must be good for the environment.
What do I do while I walk? Sometimes I think. If I pass another person, I think about whether I should say “Good morning!” But instead, I do not. I wonder what they’re thinking. Probably that I’m a ne’er-do-well. I want to tell them that, no, I’m an ever-do-well. But again, I do not.
I look at the newspapers piling up in front of one house. Perhaps these people are on vacation. “I should rob them tonight!” I think to myself. Just kidding.
Today I spent most of the walk with my head cocked back looking up at utility poles. From top to bottom you have primary power distribution lines, which feed into transformers (the big buckets-shaped devices). The transformers, in turn, feed into the secondary power distribution lines below, which supply electricity to homes. Farther down, underneath the power lines, are the telephone cables, the cable TV/Internet coax, and fiber optic lines. The telephone cable bundles are punctuated with bulging splice cases. And along the cable TV/Internet cables one sees the occasional amplifier, covered with heat fins.
How do I know so much about utility poles? It’s called reading. Specifically, Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape. Highly recommended.
On the way to work, I stop at the local Starbucks. I drink coffee and read the paper, which I bring along with me in my black messenger bag. Today I sat near a crazy old woman in a blue, hooded sweatshirt. When a young man in fatigues sat down, she announced, “We have a terrorist in here!
Picking on little countries, don’t see you invading China. Bitch. Just like a bully. Just like in school.” The man quietly got up and moved to another section. “Bitch, that’s right, walk away.”
I went back to reading the paper. A few minutes later she pulled out an apple and started peeling it. She threw the peels against the front window, where they fell to the ground. I looked at her.
“What are you looking at? Bitch.”
“You’re littering,” I responded.
“So? So what?”
“So other people have to sit there. You’re giving that guy a hard time for being a bully, but you don’t care about other people, either.”
I immediately regretted saying “either.” That’s not what I meant. I got up and walked to another section myself.
Should I have kept my mouth shut? This woman is probably mentally ill. Maybe she’s homeless and off her meds. Is she responsible for her actions? Or is she just a miserable, selfish human being? Then again, perhaps I caused a moment of reflection on her part, maybe even remorse.
Who am I kidding. I’m sorry, crazy woman. It’s not your fault. The soldier was wiser than I.