Monday, February 7, 2011

Common courtesy, not all that common really

I was in DC at the end of January and went for a nice long 13.7 mile run. Got to try out some new ground by running the length of the West Potomac Park and then a circle around the entire Mall. Snow was on the ground, and in the park, this was actually really great. While the main bike/run trail has been salted/shoveled, the outer perimeter sidewalk was not and there was an excellent crust of about 3 inches of snow, untouched and not mucky. So, I got to run in fresh snow with the greatest satifying crunch of each step as I broke through the thin frozen over layer on top. It was kind of like running on sand, but much more fun.

On the Mall, thousands of tourists were out looking around the capital at monuments and such, which brings me to my frustration for this post. I recognize that it is my responsibility to share the sidewalk with walkers and cyclists, and I do my very best to pay attention to them and their trajectories to avoid hitting anyone. For that matter, I do my best to make some noise as I approach people from behind to avoid startling them. Sometimes if they are distracted, I still frighten people, but I always apologize.

On this run, I was approaching a lovely murky brown puddle of melted snow, road grime, and salt/sand from snow removal efforts. For a bonus, this puddle was surrounded by uneven cracked concrete. Approaching the puddle, I got there roughly at the same time as a gaggle of 5 or 6 people walking the other direction. In an effort to not stomp the puddle, muddying my shoes and splashing the passers-by, I tried to skirt the puddle and got zero leeway from the oncomers. Not one inch of extra room for me to squeeze by. Ultimately, it is my responsibility where my feet land and whether or not they get stuck on a crack in the sidewalk. I could not help but be a little annoyed, however, when my efforts to keep myself and others clean failed spectacularly with my resulting face plant into the aforementioned murky brown puddle of joy.

As a side note, I am always suprised at the seeming slowdown of time as an inevitable fall takes places. Every time I am about to go down, it seems that I have plenty of time to think "Wow, this is gonna suck" and put my hands up in defense, and I even percieve that I have taken evasive action to try and roll into the fall. Certainly,  this is probably just all reflexive, but it seems conscious at the time.

Anyway, yeah, puddle, wet, cold, dirty, not awesome. I hear someone say "Whoah dude, are you okay?" After I sighed, I said "Yeah, sure, fine." and then they were gone. I guess I should not have expected more, since I told them I was okay. That said, can I please ask everyone to try and be a little more aware of your surroundings? Make room for other people, share the road, have some courtesy, please?

Epilogue: Thankfully no significant injuries. My thigh is sore from somewhere that I fell on it, but I was able to run afterwards, just slowly while the bruise works its way out.


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  2. It's funny how time seems to slow in the milliseconds prior to a physical and/or ego-shattering experience! I find my greatest success in getting pedestrians to yield is achieved by my stating "on your left" as I approach them from behind, then - hoping to reinforce greater awareness of other runners - thanking them as I pass them by.

  3. Just to put into perspective how hard Dave fell due to their oblivion: I (Mrs. Dave) had to take his wedding ring to the jeweler to repair a snag/scuff that the fall caused, and they showed me where there was actually metal missing from the ring. Let me repeat: there was metal missing. The impact scooped it away. The fact that so many people could be that oblivious to another human being is pretty boggling, especially when they saw him coming.