The curious incident of the walker in the daytime

Hi I’m Sarah and I walk places.

For most Europeans, this is quite normal. In Dublin, I lived in Stoneybatter, a 30 minute stroll from my former workplace. Again, normal. I walked to and from work every day unless it was raining, I had to carry anything bigger than a can of tomatoes or I’d had one glass of wine. Then I caught the bus.

Here in Arizona, walking’s for weirdos. This morning I awoke to yet another endless blue sky and I decided to take a walk to Whole Foods, a fancy schmancy supermarket that stocks mostly healthy stuff, which is about four blocks from my apartment. (Side note: I’m not talking girly Manhattan blocks here,  blocks in Arizona are pretty huge.) I estimated it would take me about 20 minutes or so. Grand, I thought, and lashed on the factor 30.

As expected, I was the only person pounding the pavements. After about 10 minutes of what I would call a brisk walk (an amble, to anyone else) I heard a shout. I stopped and looked around. Some dude (dudes drive trucks) had pulled in and was calling me over. Now, I’m not and idiot, so I didn’t race towards him. I did cock my ear though, and heard him ask me how much further I had to walk. I shrugged, turned on my heel and kept going.

Jesus Christ Americans are lazy, I thought to myself as I crossed a street the size of the M50. They complain about the problem of obesity, and the fact that every second person here has diabetes, and yet anyone who tries to be slightly less sedentary than a couch potato is basically open to ridicule on the streets! Ridiculous, I sniggered, and kept going.

After my smash and grab around Whole Foods (Vicki is right, it’s truly amazing, if a little on the pricy side) I started back towards the homestead. I had to stop at the pharmacy just at the end of my road for batteries (I could have picked up a bottle of whiskey, some DVDS and a box of cigars while I was there, such is the nature of American drug stores, but I didn’t) and as I was leaving the carpark I heard yet another shout. And so I stopped and turned around, yet again.

What are the chances, another dude in another truck! From what I could gather, this guy wanted to know my name, but I kept walking. The first time it happened, I thought it was kind of funny. Now I’m not so sure, and it makes me feel a little vulnerable. The suburb we’re living in is lovely but for all I know it could be the sex offender capital of Arizona. I don’t think anything bad could happen in broad, retina-splitting daylight at 11.30am on a Friday morning, but what do I know? Enough that I certainly won’t be walking anywhere alone after dark, that’s for sure.

So I think it’s time I hopped on the automobile bandwagon. I have driving school on Sunday. Wish me luck!



9 thoughts on “The curious incident of the walker in the daytime

  1. Me and my sis walked from a mall to a target superstore (you been yet? or Walmart? There are no words) in Orlando…when we asked for directions everyone was like, “oh no, you guys can’t walk over there” saying it was too far to walk blah di blah. Took about 20 mins. They’re crazy. Very few footpaths over there though and we had to walk the wrong way through a fried chicken drive thru. Go figure.

  2. Hi! I just found your blog looking for reviews of crazy AZ fair food stuffs. I actually live just on the border of Chandler and Tempe and this happens to me ALL the time. Even when I go for a run (in freakin workout clothes). AZ “dudes” apparently don’t think any ladies should walk anywhere. Not every city in the US is like this. NYC, Seattle, Chicago and a few others are very pedestrian friendly with great public transportation. Be safe out there! I look forward to reading more about what you think of this place. I lived in Europe for a while and a lot of your observations are dead on. Very similar to what my French friends would say about their impressions of the US.

  3. As a former European now residing in the United States I fully concur. Walking, simply WALKING to get somewhere, is something of an oddity in suburban areas in the US. Actually it’s more than odd it’s weird. To Americans someone who a. does not have a car or b. doesn’t know someone with a car (thus saving them from the humiliation of walking) is a VERY suspicious character indeed. Either option seems incredulous. To exist as such would mean you must be one or a combination of the following: career criminal/ incredibly poor/ just plain crazy. Any of which would mean you were a possible threat to the neighborhood and therefore due some extra scrutiny. If you want to get around ‘sans auto’ without being accosted by slack-jawed construction workers, or good Christians desperate to help you through this obvious rough patch, you need to buy some jogging clothes or get on a bike. I chose the bike and I love it. Instead of wary looks I think it invites envious ones – bikes are fast, nimble and don’t require gas. Also my little basket on the front is rather fetching.

  4. Pingback: The Christmas block | Coming To America

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