Author’s Intent, Walking

I walk a lot, often eight or ten miles or more at a time. When I lived in East Point, I’d take off in one of two directions and walk to Hapeville and College Park. This course was a little over seven miles and took me around two and a half hours. Now I can walk just over ten miles in less than two hours and twenty minutes.

During my childhood, my grandmother and I used to walk to the retail section in West End and have lunch at Woolworth, then head over to the toy section at Sears. Throughout my early life, before I learned how to drive, my main means of transportation was walking or riding a bike.

12 February 2022: Tucker, Georgia. My morning walking attire.

Not only has my fitness improved, but my walking wardrobe has evolved over time. Since I normally walk first thing in the morning, before the sun comes up, I wear blinking lights and a reflective vest that also flashes. I also have a headlamp for stretches where streetlights are sparse. I’ve added elements to deal with the weather; if it’s cold, I have a warmup jacket and tights I can wear under my outerwear to hold in my body heat, not to mention, gloves. The tights serve a dual purpose, since I often wear bright colors. They help draw attention to me as I’m out and about.

It’s important to make myself as noticeable as possible. I frequently have to cross potentially dangerous streets, or walk along the side of a street that doesn’t have a sidewalk. Even though the traffic is very light at the time I’m walking, there are still cars and they always pose a threat. I’ve had a few close calls, and sometimes drivers like to show what wonderful people they are by testing me and driving too close. In one instance, a driver actually swerved at me, causing me to jump to the edge of the road. Mostly, though, drivers take the appropriate precautions.

Another reason for drawing attention to myself is because I usually go through neighborhoods where people may be on the lookout for strangers roaming around. The more I draw attention to myself, the more I announce my reasons for being there. No one can mistake me for someone there to cause mischief if I’m wearing flashing lights that are easily seen. I occasionally encounter police outside and they’ve so far been cordial, given that it’s pretty obvious what I’m doing out there.

Every now and again, I’ll get honks from cars or trucks as I’m walking along a sidewalk. I’m not sure if the truck drivers recognize me or are simply responding to my presence. It may be they’re acknowledging the fact that I’m making myself seen, which is probably gratifying for them. I have also met a few people who also exercise around that time and one woman always acknowledges me when she’s driving past.

My philosophy is, when a community provides sidewalks, people will use them. I certainly do and am appreciative of the convenience.

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