Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In which lettuce plays a role...

This afternoon I filled my car up with $3.12 per gallon gasoline.  I hoped to grab a newspaper at the station, but it appeared they were out. I didn't feel like fighting traffic to get back across the street to Super Foods so I just came on home. After I'd been here awhile I decided I really did want to go to the store for lettuce, but gee whiz -- that $3.12 per gallon thing was weighing so heavily on my mind.

Then I realized that the weather was so nice, and heck, we live within walking distance from the grocery, and all I needed was that newspaper and a head of lettuce, so off I went.

I am pleased to report that it was a successful journey, one on which I had another one of my little ah-ha! moments.

Why don't I do that more often? Why don't we all who live within walking distance of the places to which we need to get for just a handful of something put on our shoes and walk to get there?

I honestly don't believe laziness is the whole story. I think we just forget that we have that option sometimes. I think we're afraid people will wonder what's wrong with us. I think most of our neighborhoods are not particularly pedestrian friendly -- and you should not take off on foot if yours isn't -- and I also think that this is at least part of the reason we feel so disconnected from the people with whom we share our personal geography.

Walking to Super Foods I spoke to a woman sitting at the bus stop, who had a smile as big as the moon. We didn't engage in a discussion -- just the neighborly, "Hi - how are you? Isn't it pretty out here today?"

In those few seconds, we became real to each other. That doesn't happen when you're passing someone at 35 miles per hour down Carter Hill Road.

I wondered if she was mentally rehearsing what she was going to fix for supper like I was; if she was eager to get home to watch her favorite TV show; if she had a story from her day she couldn't wait to share.

On the way back from the grocery, lettuce and newspaper in hand, I spoke to a young man with a head full of dreadlocks and a Bama jersey on. He and I made eye contact, I said "Roll Tide," he smiled, offered me one in return, and we became real to each other.

I think a whole lot of what's gone wrong here in my town -- and maybe in yours, too -- is that we've forgotten what it is to connect with people we really don't have to connect with.

A whole lot of what can begin to go right again begins with a short stroll, a nod, and a smile. And all that takes, sometimes, is leaving the car at home, and taking a short walk to where you need to go.

Maybe this $3.12 per gallon thing won't be such a bad thing, after all.

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