Walking a mile in someone else's shoes

When you are the owner of a gas-guzzling urban assault vehicle (leased in a moment of sheer stupidity since gas prices skyrocketed the minute I left the dealership) and above-mentioned tank is out of order, you learn how to use your feet.

Actually, I’ve been learning how to walk like a New Yorker or like anyone in any major city outside of here — the Motor City– ever since I visited China.

In China, everyone walks. For miles. With box springs and mattresses on their backs. Or they take public transportation or ride bikes. You’ll find moms with toddlers balanced on handlebars, a sack of groceries tied to the back fender. People in China are thin. There just might be a connection between the walking thing and the not-fat thing.

Before SUV went out of commission, before lease miles vanished, gas prices forced the issue to some extent. One by one, the reasons for driving were diminished. Warmer weather made it easy to stuff a backpack with essentials, fill a Nalgene bottle with ice water and hit the pavement.With each passing month I’ve pushed myself to walk farther and longer. In the back of my mind, I worry what I’ll will do when winter hits.

There has to be a way. After all, the American pioneers essentially trekked from New England to the Rockies on foot. I won’t get into how many of them were slaughtered along the way, or attacked by wild animals, or plunged into crevasses, or contracted some insect-borne illness or starved to death. They were the weaklings.The strong survived because they had on all the appropriate gear from REI.

More and more I’m seeing other families using their feet to either walk or pedal their bicycles to their destinations. Whether it’s the grocery store, pharmacy or movie mart, it’s becoming common to see bike helmets and backpacks in the hands of shoppers.

This makes me proud, and fortunate to live in a suburb with sidewalks and a downtown. I hope this makes up for the shame I have each time I get behind the wheel of my SUV.¬†And with all the gas money I’m saving, maybe I’ll be able to buy something more than a Nalgene bottle at REI.

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