I don't drive, and because of this, people often ask me: How do you get around? The answer I usually give is: Being perfectly fit, I walk or bike everywhere. When I need to, I take public transportation.
In New York State, this doesn't go unremarked upon.
I have a loan closing to attend next week and, since the money's to help grow my small business, wild horses couldn't keep me away. But you should hear the loan officer try to wrap his mind around the fact that I don't drive.
Loan officer: We'll set it up for Wednesday. We'll need to see your driver's license.
Me: I don't drive. But (and here I mention other forms of ID).
L.O.: How do you get around?
Me: I take buses, trains, bike, walk.
L.O.: There are buses?
L.O.: You can get to this bank?
Now, maybe loan officers are doubting Thomases when it comes to pedestrians, but we do exist. There aren't many of us and, on busy thoroughfares, cars that whiz by aren't too happy with us, but we're a determined lot.
Whether we don't drive because we prefer the exercise of walking or because we don't want to be a party to the pollution, congestion, and occasional road rage, there is not much that hampers us. It is a lifestyle.
You'll know us by our arm-pumping stride. We don't believe in wasting time; we figure we'll get the power walking in on our way to the supermarket, or the nearest town.
The only problem I've ever run into is having to depend on route schedules when we choose to travel by public transportation.
Recently, I met with the head of marketing at a nearby community college. He was a gracious man who called the morning of our appointment to adjust our meeting time by half an hour to accommodate a last-minute change in schedule.
The college is six miles away, and I wanted to arrive looking reasonably fresh. Walking and biking were out.
The bus I was taking stopped every hour, so I had to take the same bus I would have taken had I kept our original appointment. Otherwise I would have been a few minutes late.
I showed up 40 minutes early, and the secretary was miffed: "He said he called you!" She pointed to an uncomfortable-looking chair where I'd have to sit. I opted to explore.
Trudging across the grass and crossing the highway, I checked out the lovely lobby artwork at a nearby office edifice that boasts a spa and gym. I feasted on the acrylics and oils. Their quality rivaled that of the Museum of Modern Art's collection in nearby New York.
I still had 20 minutes. I explored the campus grounds. Lovely! There I was, at 10 a.m. on a spring day, in a perfectly manicured garden setting, sitting on a bench, watching people and listening to birds sing.
A walker always carries plenty to do. I read, I made notes.
When I met with my appointment, I was suitably invigorated by my adventures, and we had a lovely discussion. Oh, and I got the freelance assignment I'd been chasing.
I don't know if this is enough to recommend pedestrianism to others, but it's these deviations from life's routine that make putting feet to pavement (and grass and asphalt) worthwhile to me.