I spend four months of the year walking with my head down. My arms wrapped tightly across my chest as though I’m being fitted for a straightjacket. It’s so cold, I think that by wrapping myself inside of myself will preserve body warmth and keep away the cutting cold.
It does not.
My chin stays tucked tight to my neck. So much, it appears I do not have a neck. Or, if I do, it’s a rather thick one.
I could be eligible for either football or fake wrestling.
No eye contact is made. The downward posture ensures I see virtually no one. Including those next to me.
Recently, while trudging the 10,000 miles from the office to my car (and I am not exaggerating), two people I’ve known for 25 or 30 years were walking along side me. I would have remained blissfully unaware of this had not one said something to me. By name.
I pretend to be making an incredibly thorough, microscopic assessment of earth – more likely snow or, worse, ice – beneath my feet.
There must be a scholarly journal article in all of this. Which will win me promotion, pay raise and a community-wide parade.
The other eight months of the year, though, my head is upright, I notice most of what’s around me and at least on occasion say “Hello” to other pedestrians.
Hands finally unstuffed from pockets, arms swinging freely, I walk using adult-sized steps.
Spring, summer and fall present a return to social civilization.
I do not mean to imply I become WNY’s bon vivant. Hardly.
There’s one more thing. I am the only two-legged creature on the face of the planet who does not own a cell phone.
If I did, then I suspect spring, summer and fall would all become like today’s winter.
At work, helpful individuals have posted signage about “distracted walking” and its dangers. (For Pete’s sake!) The irony that such signs are read only by the undistracted passes without comment.
Preaching to the choir.
And looking forward to a return to eyes-up strolling.