The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

Each day that I walk on the road for exercise, it becomes clearer and clearer that the drivers of the cars that meet me can be divided up into three categories. Walking gives you time to puzzle out stuff like this.

The first category of people is the nicest one. These are the people who, upon seeing you walking along the side of the road, steer their two-ton automobiles and SUVs and pickup trucks over into the opposite lane. Their intentions are readily apparent, for they do this way up the road, almost immediately upon seeing you. All this is of course dependent upon the hilliness and the no-passing conditions of the moment, but the actual phenomenon of them being in this category is beyond doubt. They try their best to get over.

Now the challenge is to extrapolate from their behavior to what kind of people they are. This is where, I think, the mental benefits of walking come from. Instead of continuing to solve ones own unsolvable riddles, and obsessing over solutionless problems, there is some relaxing benefit to be gained by figuring out something else. Especially when the something else isn’t connected to the dentist, the bill collector, the knock in your car engine, a teenager in the house, the price of heating fuel, or what to buy someone for their birthday.

This category of folks who see you and get over are obviously the superior people of the three. First, they are probably walkers themselves, and they know what being smacked by the compression wave of air that cars throw as they go by you feels like. They know that it’s scary, and that it throws up an eye-watering slug of dust and ragweed pollen and wood ticks and stuff.

These people are aware that we all share the world with others. This category doesn’t throw beer bottles out their automobile windows or dump their ash trays at stop signs. They most likely also attend their children’s parent day activities, eat more fruits and vegetables, and change their underwear every day.

I’ll bet they even vote.

The second category is the in-between bunch, and they’re easy to spot because even when they see you, they are careful not to give the entire side of the road to you. Instead, they scooch over maybe half way, straddling the center line at best. What they’re saying is: “Look, I’m not sure exactly what to do about the teenager in the house and the cost of heating fuel, etc., and I’m not exactly sure about what to do about you, there, walking on a road that was built for cars, mostly.”

This category of people, they’re not getting over in the road out of any sympathy and understanding for you and your exercise program so much as they’re being careful. Exactly of what isn’t clear to them. Maybe they just don’t want to hit you and dent their car. Maybe they think you’re going to jump out and pretend to be hit and try and collect on their insurance.

Mostly you have to like this bunch, even though they’re confused. (Sometimes they vote.)

The last bunch wouldn’t move over if you were an elephant and your two-ton butt was hanging out in the road a country mile. This is their road, and therefore, they’re entitled to run over turtles and the fishing pole that just fell out of your boat, throw out beer cans, and not have to walk further than from the curb to the liquor store, to get more cans to throw out.

They don’t feel like they have any input on all the complex stuff in a capitalist democracy that pretty much befuddles them; therefore, seeing you prepare to jump into the ditch for your life is evidence to them that they can at least make a difference in one person’s life. Mainly, though, they think you ran out of gas in your car why in heck else would you be walking. They consistently show up for work on time so they can complain about it, and everything that’s wrong is always someone else’s fault.

If I had the time to walk further, I’m sure I could figure out more. Walkers are of course much smarter than average.

Better looking, too.