So, there I was, butt in the air — literally ass over elbows — and when I looked up, the women in the minivan were laughing at me. Then, they blew through the intersection.
Okay, I’m sure it was funny to watch. There I was, standing still, looking both ways before crossing the street, and then suddenly — boom — a wipe out for no apparent reason*. At first glance, I was a boring anonymous runner, but in seconds, I was my own scrambling, upside-down sideshow. But did they really have to wait at the intersection to watch the whole spectacle in running tights and then refuse to yield to pedestrians?
I will say this: I fall down a lot. And I have no problem if it amuses you. I usually find my ass-busting adventures pretty hilarious. But the least — the very least — you can do is allow me the right of way after I right myself.
But why am I talking about this, except that it’s fun to tell a story about falling down in public in the snow while wearing running tights? Am I only doing this because my friends are likely to think it’s funny to think about me standing still and then suddenly busting my ass?
Hang on, I’ll give you a second to picture it.
Aside from the obvious humor in watching me fall, the moment made me think a lot about how drivers are generally jerks to runners. While I acknowledge and respect the fact that we’re the assholes out there running in the cold, heat, rain, and everything between and that you might disagree with the entire running business on principle, you drivers have got to stop being such malicious jerks about it.
This summer, a driver zoned out while he was waiting to make a left turn. I waited a bit since no one else was around, certain he was going to turn any second. But after a while, I was sure he had seen me, so I started across the intersection. When I was halfway across, he remembered what he was supposed to be doing and gunned it right at me. But looking at where you’re going was clearly too much work for him, because he was clearly surprised to see my body 2 feet away from the grille of his truck. As I scrambled backwards, he gave me a half-apologetic, half-angry look, and all I could think to myself was, “Oh, hell, no. This one isn’t on me.”
And while that was bad, running outside this winter has been worse. Like everyone else, we’ve had what us amateur meteorologists are calling a shitty case of the winters, which means that conditions are variable: most roads are plowed or treated using the broad definitions of “plowed” and “treated,” some sidewalks are shoveled, some are definitely not, and there’s plenty of ice and other fun surprises along the way**. But it’s all passable on foot. And I sort of like the mild, mini-adventure winter running offers***.
It’s the threat of a speeding driver, mid-cell phone conversation hopping the curb that keeps me up at night.
So, in the interest of being helpful and fighting the good fight on behalf of my fellow runners and the pedestrian community in general, I’d like to offer some advice/rules/pleas for decency this winter:
1. Get off the phone. Seriously. Get. Off. The. Phone. It’s dangerous and you’re scaring me. There are icy patches everywhere, you’re clearly engaged in other business, and I’m pretty sure that you’re not in control of your vehicle should the unexpected happen.
2. It’s not cute at any time of the year to pretend like you don’t see the pedestrian waiting to cross in front of you. It’s less cute when we’re freezing our asses off out there. Yes, it was my choice to run in cold weather with only a layer of polyester between my skin and the elements. But it’s your choice to be a jerk.
3. Slow down. I’m really afraid that you don’t see that red light. And, like I mentioned in #1, it might be icy.
4. I realize you have a car, but I can make a snowball. Let’s not take this thing to a whole other level.
5. If you have a sidewalk, please shovel it. I’m not the only person who enjoys being outside in the winter and nothing kills a winter walk/run/amble than a nice ice slick. Though I’d ask you to avoid the round salt pellets for reasons already explained above.
6. The honking thing is never cool, gentlemen. What, exactly, are you expecting out of that interaction? You would pee yourselves if I actually flagged you down.
7. Most importantly, share the roads. I’ll be responsible and look out for you if you do the same.
* You know those round salt pellets? They’re like marbles, I tell you. Marbles.
** By the way, while I’m all pissy about drivers, I’m also giving you people who think curbing your dog in the snow is optional a dirty look. You know who you are.
*** I can’t afford real adventures right now, so I’m making do with what’s around.