Monday, April 25, 2005

A Street-Level View of the World

I did a most unusual thing today while running an errand: I actually walked to get there. And OK, if you wanted to get technical, it was a reverse errand, because I walked home from where I was. I'll explain that more in a moment.

(If anyone in, say, New York City is reading these words, they're probably laughing, because they're used to walking almost everywhere. But in Texas, where everything is really, really spread out, it's not so common. Our cars are woven into the fabric of our lives out here.)

So I'd been having radiator "issues" with Kevmobile 1.2 for a while now. I knew there was some sort of leak, because it was guzzling coolant like athletes drink Gatorade, and I could see the residue all over the top of the radiator. Someone at one of my previous oil changes had suspected it might be the cap (which would have been nice--that's cheap), but so far, I'd been content to throw down eight bucks on a bottle of coolant every few months rather than going to the shop and perhaps spending much more. But with air-conditioner season coming up, and the car's tendency to overheat at random moments when I was stuck in traffic, I decided to do something about it during my Monday afternoon break, since that's the only day of the week that I get one of those.

Of course, it turned out not to be the cap; there was a big crack in the radiator itself (which was fairly easy to see once they cleaned all the gunk off the top), so I was looking at a few hours in the shop. I had stopped at the garage close to my house, so, after exhausting their supply of interesting magazines, I decided to hoof it home and get some stuff done here.

The walk wasn't ridiculously long; I would later measure it at .9 of a mile each way. Still, it had been quite some time since I had walked that long simply to get somewhere. But it was a near-perfect day for this (overcast, with a cool breeze blowing in my face on the way home) with not a lot of traffic, and besides, I was going to now miss my chance to work out at the college, so this seemed like a good substitute.

Needless to say, the drive I'd been making since I'd moved to this neighborhood just over three and a half years ago looked very different when it was being walked. I had pavement to walk on virtually all of the way; the alleys that run parallel with the road were connected to the major intersections by sidewalks. I passed a few dogs on my way (since people's back fences come right up to the alley); most of them barked at me, but a pair of poodle mixes in someone's backyard never even turned around, much less acknowledged my presence.

It took exactly the ten minutes I guessed it would take to get home, and I didn't even break a sweat on the way there (the way back was a bit different, as it was starting to rain, so I upped my pace a bit, since my umbrella was--you guessed it--in my car). The way home was thus refreshing, while the way back was starting to feel like I'd accomplished something physical, which was of course the idea.

Once I paid my bill, I rejoined the world of the driver again, and made it back home in about two minutes flat. I wouldn't want to rely on walking to get everywhere (especially with a saxophone), but it certainly gave me a newfound respect for those who do, and it was nice to take life a little more slowly for a second.

He drove a stake through his own popularity: Dallas City Councilman Mitchell Rasansky, who exhibited some pretty batty behavior recently, gets taken to task multiple times in the Letters section of today's paper.

Cross-cultural celebration: Over at our multi-hemispheric co-blog, American Australian Fun, James wishes us a Happy Anzac Day (and no, it's not a medicine you take for depression). Read and learn.

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