Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In Malta, NY

I'm in Malta NY on a business trip. It was a cold night.

I wanted to get some food supplies. I knew there was a PriceChopper food market nearby, so I went to the desk. It's a cold morning. Weather underground says 0F now (8am) but it was probably colder then. Fortunately I brought layers.

Even earlier, in the pre-dawn darkness at 6:15 am, I'd seen a woman going toward the lobby wearing cold-weather running gear. "You're running outside?" I'd asked. "If so, it's been good knowing you..."

"I used to live in Lake Placid. I'm used to it," she responded confidently.

So now it was my turn. I asked directions for Price Chopper.

"You go here, then around this traffic circle...." It was clear I was getting driving directions.

"No -- I'm walking."

She looked at me incredulously. "It's a half mile away. Do you want me to call you a taxi?"

"I'll be fine..." I responded, and left.

Sidewalks were partially shoveled from snow two days ago. This made then somewhat treacherous. There was one set of footsteps on the sidewalk I was on, despite heavy car traffic and a strip mall being directly across the road. I had to wait quite awhile to wait for a gap in traffic to scamper across, and only because a car stopped for me. Half the trip was through long access roads and across extended parking lots because land is cheap and squandered.

It was clear bipedal motion was considered an atavism, or at best a way to and from the parking lot.

At the check-out of the food store, each shopper was given a 10 second speech cheerily informing them that their shopping card resulted in them getting an "X-cent" discount on a gallon of gas. I have no interest in gallons of gas.

If 300 million people listen to a 10 second speech about savings on gas once per week, that's around 60 human lifetimes squandered per year. That made this speech around twice as deadly as lightning strikes.

It was a nice walk. I was heavily dressed and was sweating from my combination run-walk. I don't get much opportunities to experience real cold in San Francisco, where we complain about sub-50F. 0F is a different beast. In a way, since it's viewed as a challenge and not an annoyance, easier to take, at least as a visitor. But the contrast between that runner and everything else was striking.

No comments: