The Longest Walk

One of the things that I love about my job is the fact that it is well within decent walking distance from home. No matter the weather, for all intents and purposes, I can walk to work or walk home from work, regardless of my transportation situation.

Though, I loathe walking during the summer due to my bug anxiety, I enjoy walking, in general, especially when I have music streaming through my earpiece or when I have my partner walking with me.

I have worked for the same boss for almost six years, and when even when I had a car and it had issues, I still was never late and I still have never missed a single day of work. Not even when my vehicle broke down, when I was running an errand, and I had to have my vehicle towed. I had it towed to my home and then I grabbed my gear and walked the four blocks and still got to work with time to spare. In the early days, I only had to walk on one side of the road, with only a couple of nasty intersections to cross.

a little more than a year ago, I was transferred to a new job site. It’s still within walking distance, but, sadly, I don’t walk much, to or from work, even when the bugs are scarce, because there are more nasty intersections and less considerate drivers on the road. The risk and fear of being run over by a careless, thoughtless, driver causes me more anxiety than having to contend with bees and wasps.

It’s even more scary in the winter months, when the mornings are dark. A couple of years ago, the city voted to shut off certain street lights during certain times of the year, so not all avenues are well-lit during the darkest morning hours. One morning, I was forced to walk to work because my ride never showed and my partner and I were nearly run down by a careless driver in a Hemi truck. The intersection was dark and the truck was set so high, the driver couldn’t see us, even as we walked with the “Walk” signal clearly flashing. after that incident, I vowed to never, again walk to work in the winter, even if I have to beg, borrow, or steal for cab fare. We could take the bus, but it would actually drop us off at that same intersection. at least, a cab will drop me off at the front door.

Walking home, in broad daylight, isn’t much better. You can tell by the looks on a lot of driver’s faces that they think they have the right of way, no matter who else is sharing the road. I have to cross four major intersections now, to get (to and) from work. Even when the “Walk” signal is clearly flashing, and even when I try to run (not merely walk) across the street, without fail, there is, at least, one driver who will either cut me off in the crosswalk or will just barely miss clipping me, from behind, as I try to get to the sidewalk. To put it bluntly, it’s fucking scary!

It sucks, because I miss the exercise, but in lieu of walking to work, I have a family member give me a ride, when he can, in the mornings, or call a cab, if he is missing in action, for some reason. Unless my partner is around to walk me home, even though, I can walk home from work in the same amount of time that it takes me to catch the bus that (thankfully) stops right in front of my job, I take the bus, instead. The upside is that it is a) safer than trying to cross four intersections in competition with careless drivers, b) the bus drops me off a block from my home, and c) I still get a little bit of exercise, every day, walking that block to get the rest of the way home (it’s all incline, half up and half down. When I’m really tired, it’s not such a thrill to walk, especially since my foot is still healing from being broken, last summer).

At least, I have a choice. I imagine what it must be like for my co-workers who are sometimes late for work due to car troubles, especially since they don’t live nearly as close as I do. They either have to call in sick or they show up late because they had to wait on somebody else to help them get moving. The downside for me, sometimes, of course, due to seniority, as well as living so close, if there is an emergency at work, and somebody in the know is required to come and troubleshoot an issue, I can still get there a lot of faster, on foot, than any of my co-workers can by car, which is why I am always the first call that staff members make when there is a problem (of course, I try to troubleshoot over the phone before I drag myself out of the house for something that they can probably fix with a simple walk-through).

I wish there was a viable solution to my pedestrian problem. Of course, owning a car would solve a lot of those problems, but cars and upkeep are not cheap, never mind gas and insurance. I once took a course where we were asked to come up with a creative solution for an everyday problem and I imagined a system that would disable cars that tried to outrun pedestrians on the crosswalk, like a slight electrical short that would force drivers to wait until there were no obstructions near their path. In an ideal world, there would be pedestrian bridges over all intersections so that cars and pedestrians could co-exist safely, but that is not the world that I live in now. For now, I’ll settle for public transportation until those pedestrian bridges are built or until the car fairy shows up.

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