A couple of times a week, I see this runner.
It’s kinda funny seeing runners when I’m out driving; once upon a time they got on my nerves (look at this guy/girl, out flaunting the fact that they’re BEING SO HEALTHY, why don’t you get on a treadmill or better yet go watch some TV and eat some chips). These days it makes me a little jealous. I could get one of those awful bumper stickers — you know, I’d rather be running or some other obsequious crap — and it wouldn’t be a lie. I see other people running, and I really do think, dang, I wish I was going for a run. Even when it’s 80+ degrees out. Something, as I may have pondered before, is wrong with me.
But not this runner.
This runner is an a-hole.
I say that knowing full well that I’m guilty of many a-hole runner behaviors myself. Holier-than-thou minimalist apologetics. Tree-huggery every-run-is-a-good-run fawning. Interminable gear-heading with all the electronics. Smug humblebrags about waking up while the rest of the world is asleep. Endless talking about all things running.
Jeez, I’m an a-hole runner.
But not as big an a-hole as this a-hole.
Because this a-hole runs in the street when there’s a sidewalk right the fargo there.
Now, look. I understand. I’ve read the scientific-sounding articles about how running on asphalt is better for your feet than running on concrete. (Apparently, asphalt will compress underfoot, while concrete won’t. Though how much it actually compacts under the paltry weight of a human is probably less than negligible.) And yeah, okay, he’s doing what you should do when you run on a road, which is to say, he runs against traffic, so that you can see him coming and he can see you coming. And yes, I will admit and can even attest that running on a sidewalk can be more hazardous than you might expect.
But all that goes out the window when you’re running down a main drag during rush hour in the dusky dawn light, where shadows are long, eyes are droopy, and everybody and their mother is texting and driving on their way to the daily grind.
This is a two-lane road serving virtually all the traffic going from our little Atlanta suburb to the next little Atlanta suburb over. Not exactly the artery of I-20, but certainly a capillary of substantial size. And too many times, I see this dude trucking along the edge of the road, head down, shuffling blithely into the oncoming traffic with all the concern my dog has for the screen she doesn’t know I closed behind the sliding glass door.
I don’t understand it. There’s no rational explanation I can find for it. The cars going North have to dodge into the oncoming South lane to avoid splattering this poor bastard, and the cars coming South have to slow down to avoid hitting the cars dodging into their lane to avoid splattering this poor bastard. The man is literally a slow-moving roadblock. He backs up traffic in both directions. I’ve seen him at various points along a 1-mile stretch, which means that mile is part of his regular routine, which means he’s putting his own desire to run in the street above the desire of possibly hundreds of drivers to use the road as intended every morning he goes for a run.
AND THE SIDEWALK IS RIGHT THERE. Literally less than five feet to his left. A quick little hop and he’d be on it, happily out of everybody’s way. Happily not endangering his own life and limb. Happily not being a total a-hole.
And yet, on he plods. With his high socks. And his fargoing white headband. And his blatant disregard for anything approaching common sense or decency.
So plod on, a-hole. But know that, even though you’re running, I’m glad as fargo I’m not you.
And that’s saying a lot. From one a-hole to another.