Almost every morning I’ve been going up to the mall to walk. It’s mostly me and a bunch of old people – at least that’s the way it seemed when I first started walking. But lately I’ve been noticing individual “regulars” that are walking just about every day. It’s somewhat like it used to be when I ran at a local park every Saturday morning. You’d see a lot of the same people and it got so you’d raise a hand in greeting and mutter a quick “Morning!” to them as you passed each other.
At the mall there’s not so much greeting going on, but today there were a few people that locked eyes and nodded, and even a couple that uttered morning back when I offered it. So maybe I’ve become a regular too. As long as I’m not one of the old ones, that’s OK.
Most mornings I get to the mall early enough to get 2 or 3 miles (laps) in before all the stores open. I mark my progress by passing the Rain Forest Cafe which has water falls, monkeys, elephants and butterflies moving in animation along the outside walls when it’s open. Most mornings I get 2 or 3 of my 4 laps finished before they start moving. Today I arrive a bit early and my goal is to get all 4 of my laps done before the crocodile begins to roar and the waterfalls start sending up their morning fog.
So here’s some of the people I see up there nearly every morning:
A tiny Asian woman with her walker. Always dressed beautifully, her oxygen tank sitting on the seat of her walker, she wheels around the 1 mile loop surprisingly quickly, head held high. No discernible limp mars her gait. Without the oxygen tank to slow her down I bet she’d be a speed demon with that walker.
A couple that always walks hand in hand; he wears a leather Indiana Jones hat and a long white beard. They don’t saunter exactly but they’re in no hurry either. They’re probably my age, so they’re not old. But also not so young. It’s nice to see the affection between them.
The older man with the obvious side effects of having had a stroke; one leg swings wide and slowly, one arm dangles uselessly at his side. He isn’t moving fast. But he’s moving. He doesn’t look at anyone, but he makes it around the “track.” More than once. Every day.
The middle aged black man that walks quickly holding a phone to his ear the entire time, conducting an animated conversation all the way around…and around…and around. Every single morning he’s on that phone and I wonder if it’s the same person each day…I wonder if it’s some sort of illicit affair that causes him to only be able to talk when he’s away from home on his walk. I realize I’m starting to write whole stories about these people that I see every day but have never met.
A couple of women, probably my age, maybe slightly older. One is heavier, the other is very slim. They always walk just a bit faster than me. Sometime during the morning they will pass me and I am never able to catch up to them again. They talk nonstop about family and relationships and other people. Interesting conversation to listen to. In road races I used to run behind pairs of people talking and shamelessly eavesdrop to take my mind off of the pain of running. I’d do the same at the mall but I can’t keep up!
The younger woman in shorts and a Tshirt wearing an Ipod even though there is great walking music playing overhead. She is swinging her arms and moving right along. If I were jogging I would still be slower than her. She is in great shape and I remember evaluating female runners in the same manner I’m watching her now. Wondering if she got this way by walking, or is just naturally lucky. Wondering if I should move along a bit faster.
The pairs of young mothers pushing baby carriages with their youngsters asleep. The mothers are talking and walking quickly, as if they need to get as much adult conversation in as quickly as possible before they head back to their children filled days. The mothers all look so young, pony tails swept up, no makeup, big wedding/engagement rings on their hands. Women of leisure in the sense they aren’t working, but women in reality who have no leisure time at all.
The young man in a wheelchair going around and around, listening to his own Ipod. Working out his shoulders and arms I suppose. He doesn’t have one of those modern efficient wheelchairs and it looks a lot like work. But then, my own feet are hurting by mile 3 so I guess if we do it right, we’re all doing a lot of work. He smiles at me each time we meet, one of the few that acknowledges me.
So that’s a quick picture of my walk at the mall. I’ve got to speed up now, I want to finish before that crocodile wakes up.
January 19, 2010 at 11:25 pm
I know that Mall and if I were closer to it I would be there walking and nodding to you….
January 20, 2010 at 6:00 am
I wonder what kind of description they would write about you? LOL.
I love people watching. How fun!
January 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm
I felt like I was walking right along with you. Sounds like a great place to get some exercise in the winter.
January 20, 2010 at 11:07 pm
Sounds like you have a more interesting than run-of-the-mill mall to begin with. I do the same thing when observing people–imagine the stories behind them.