On my walk today I found myself following a guy I've seen a lot. There's sort of a community of walkers in Twinsburg. Besides the usual dog walkers, there's the Nazi girl, a very thin girl who walks ferociously, a fierce, unhappy expression on her face. She wears a sports bra and sweat pants in the summer. Walking does not appear to be a zen experience for her. There are the Wandering Sikhs, two retired gentlemen who are prodigious walkers. Bob and I have seen them in our neighborhood when we were, say, leaving for dinner, and an hour and a half later seen them still walking, four or five miles away. I admire the Wandering Sikhs a great deal. And there's the litter guy.
The litter guy walks all year round in all sorts of weather. He wears a caution orange vest and often walks on the side of the road. He carries a plastic bag and a litter picker-upper thing with an American flag on it. Sometimes he is accompanied by a black and white border collie. Sometimes he has a handlettered sign that says 'Please Do Not Litter!' He is also a prodigious walker. I've passed him before and once asked him where his dog was. 'Too hot for the dog,' he said. Today when I went for my walk it was the third day of Seattle rain. I haven't been to Seattle but this is what I imagine Seattle rain to be like. Steady. Like it could rain for another century or so. Everything is green and just a little cool. There were a couple of runners--because this kind of weather is about perfect for running--but only one other walker, the litter guy. I followed him for awhile on the trail, then cut off to do my five sets of stairs. (There's an observation deck overlooking Tinker's Creek and if I am feeling like I should, sometimes I go up and down the stairs--about the equivalent of going to the third story of a house--five times. If I am feeling especially athletic, I do it again on my return leg.) When I got back on the path after doing my stairs, I soon met the litter guy doing his return leg. He had an ingenious harness that allowed him to wear a golf umbrella attached to his vest and resting on his shoulder to that the whole umbrella rides perfectly to protect him. When he saw me, he spread his hands. 'Can you believe this?' he said. I thought he meant the rain. 'Hands free!' he said.
I admired his umbrella rig. I was wearing my new rain jacket and although I like my rain jacket a lot, it was a bit hot and the umbrella rig was splendiferous in a way a rain jacket is not. I thanked him for picking up litter.
He told me he started walking in early 2001, when he was still living in Massachusetts and that he walked seven miles a day. Since 2001 he has walked 8000 miles, he said. He used to have sponsors--the local Domino's Pizza and Dunkin' Donuts, among others, and people would sometimes stop and give him twenty dollars and say, 'Go buy yourself a beer!' He was written up in the local paper. But other people thought he was a nuisance and the cops stopped him six times. People tried to run him off the road.
When he came here to Ohio, he kept a lower profile, but he still picks up litter. Today he had found a five dollar bill. If I'd had my camera, I'd have taken a picture of him, but I keep forgetting my camera.
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In other news, Bob in in Mumbai (Bombay) India on business. He reported on his first night there:
Got to Mumbai around 11pm local time. Got through immigration and customs with no problems. Walked out into the heat and humidity and found my driver. Then I had a terrifying ride through Mumbai at night to the hotel.
OMFG! No rules, no enforcement, half the cars had no headlights. I lost track of how many times we came within centimeters of trucks, taxis, motorbikes, pedestrians, and dogs. Saw one cow. People everywhere! Milling about on piles of dirt. They walk in the street because there are people living on the sidewalk. I saw buildings that had no front walls with people living in them. Like there had been an earthquake. Saw blankets thrown over wires (might have been power lines) to make tents with people living in them. I just wanted to get to the hotel without seeing somebody run over or crushed to death. Seriously, I lost track of the close calls.
So I'm safe, a little wired, but drained. I'll write tomorrow.
Since Bob has spent some time in Hong Kong, Shen Zhen, and Juarez, places not known for their timid driving, I can only assume India is quite the experience. He has also sighted Bollywood star Dilip Kumar in a restaurant. (I assume that his dining companions pointed Kumar out, since while Bob has some Punjab music, he cannot really be described a Bollywood fan and probably would not have recognized him on his own.)