It never fails. I will be out walking and a dust comet will streak up on me. The driver will slow to a stop, roll down the window, lean out and ask, “Do you want a ride?”
It’s endearing how people are always willing to lend a hand but I politely decline. I tell them I am merely out for exercise.
Most find that troubling.
You see, in the country, the word for exercise is work and everyone gets more of that than they can handle. For them, exercise is either what you do for money or what you do because you have to. If you are not paid or compelled to exert yourself, you should be doing something useful instead.
On my walks, I often watch someone drive out of their garage, back down the driveway to the mail box, remove their mail and drive back into the garage.
City people might call this lazy but a country person would never call it that – unless of course, the person was actually paid or compelled to walk to the mailbox, in which case if they drove instead – that would be lazy.
For most people out here, walking in the middle of the day means you have nothing to do. If you are healthy enough to walk, you are healthy enough to work and if you have a job that allows you to walk during the day, maybe you need a real job.
When I tell people I walk for exercise, they interpret it as an excuse. They know I am not lazy because of the distance I cover, so they think – the poor guy got nothing to do and they take pity. Always willing to help, they will mention a neighbor who needs a hand pressure washing hog barns.
Knowing this, when I explain why I walk, I always append the qualifier, “Doctor’s orders.”
It works because people on my road know doctors will order strange things. The same doctor who says you can’t lift a bag of seeds – will order you to walk six miles. It is the sort of thing that only make sense to a doctor.
Mine said that since I am retired and don’t have anything useful to do, I should get off my ass and get some exercise.
So when I tell people that I walk on doctor’s order, you can see two thoughts chase each other across their faces: maybe I should find another doctor, followed by the realization that since I am compelled to do what I am doing – that is work, which means everything is right again with the world.