Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The real reason our country is getting bigger

194.5 pounds
We were on our daily walk tonight when we encountered a sea of cars and trucks sitting directly across the path for walkers and bikers in Kereiakes Park.

Because the path sits right next to the football practice area, parents use that space to pull their gas guzzlers up to the edge of the field. There is a parking lot about one hundred feet away (and half a dozen others nearby), but these people don't park in the parking lots because it would require them to walk that incredibly long distance.

So once fall rolls around, Dave and I have to contend with a maze of SUVs and pick-up trucks every time we try to go on a walk.

Tonight, these people were parked so close to each other and packed in so tight, that we had to turn to the side to get through the row of vehicles, and if I had been on a bike, I would have had no choice but to abandon the path and go a different route. It was nerve-wracking.

So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that as soon as I got past the grid of cars, I stepped on some random piece of plastic--a football apparatus or child's toy, I'm not sure which--and fell face forward into the pavement. For a split second, I worried about being embarrassed, but then the searing pain in my left knee and the strange feeling in my right ankle forced my face to turn from red to tear-covered.

When I fell, Dave crouched by my side, but though there were about one hundred parents standing around doing basically nothing, not one of them asked if I was okay or if they could help. It was still light enough out that everyone who walked by and gawked at me—and there were plenty—could see the blood oozing out of my wound and covering my knee in crimson rivers. But again none of them asked if I was okay. I guess they were too busy worrying about their ten-year-olds' football practice.

When one of the offending drivers returned to his pick-up and looked at me with disgust, I asked him if he would mind not parking on the path in the future. Rather than express any empathy, he said, "Maybe it's not where I parked. Maybe you're just clumsy."

And to think sometimes I wonder why our country has such a problem with universal health care—it's because far too often people don't care about anyone besides themselves . . . or their ten-year-old son who's probably never going to play football again after the age of thirteen.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post—we all sit around wondering why our country is getting fatter, wondering why our kids are lazy and entitled. Well, this is why—because so many parents watch their kids practice playing football, sending the message that it doesn't matter if you're good at something or just show up because the world revolves around you no matter what you do.

And that's why these kids end up in my college classes wondering why they have to be able to write a grammatically correct sentence to pass the course—never before have they had to do anything well to get the attention of their parents . . . or a trophy. Why would college be any different?

And they certainly don't understand that they have to exercise and eat a balanced diet to be healthy—that would require discipline. Something you don't learn when your parents drive up to the edge of the practice field and sit there watching you run tackling drills every night of your childhood.

And, of course, then there are the parents.

The people who can't park one hundred feet away from their kids' practice field.

Why can't they park that far? I'm not sure, but I think it's because it would require a modicum of effort. What I do know is that's another reason we're all getting fatter—people won't walk across a parking lot, much less the four miles I cover on that same path every day.

To make matters worse, not only will people not move their butts—hurting themselves and their health care industry—but they also have no respect for or awareness about the people who do move them.

That's why they park on a walking trail, that's why they honk at bikers in the roadway, that's why every year joggers are killed by passing vehicles.

No, we are not concerned about the well being of the people who try to maintain their health. Hell, we don't even see them.

We are far too concerned with having all of our things—our SUVs, our iPhones, our Starbucks coffee cups, our children—within arm's reach to even consider worrying about anyone else.

Pretty soon we'll probably all have one of those floating chairs from Wall-e too.


  1. Ouch! All better now? Maybe a traffic cop can go give all of those folks parking tickets for blocking the walk!

  2. Not completely better. My twisted ankle is much better (not perfect but much improved), but my busted-up knee is still excruciating. I slept ten hours last night trying to stay off of it. I just hope there's no cartilage or tissue damage. It's all bruised and bloody and gross too.

    I called the cops last night, and they said they'll get on it. We shall see!

  3. I can hear my grandmother screaming from Texas to put some Neosporin on it. She has a lot of faith in that stuff.

    Also, I've taken to parking as far away as possible at the grocery store because I like to get an extra bit of walking in--and because I'm terrible at parking--and every time I walk to my car I get the strangest looks from other people in the parking lot. I think the amount of time people spend vying for an awesome parking space is kind of ridiculous. I'd rather just spend that time burning a few extra calories.

  4. Ooh, that's a good idea, Emily--Neosporin. It might still sting too much, but I'll try it. Since Dave had to walk home and get the car, blood oozed out of my knee for about fifteen minutes, which I think made it sting more.

    Yes, we park as far away as we can too. We've actually been made fun of for doing it too!

  5. My fiance and I always park at the back of parking lots, one because we have a big truck or van that we're in. Secondly, we don't even bother with the fight to get to the front, where people sit for ten minutes watching someone load their car so they can walk such a short distance to the store. And lastly, it's a good walk for us.

    The parking as close as humanly possible to something has never made sense to me, plus people get into ridiculous traffic jams trying to stay as close to the store.

  6. Also, I had a question for you:

    Do you have any good ideas for exercise that can be done at work?

    I work at a comic shop 10 hours a day, 4 days a week so I really need something I can do in the store as I can't really leave the store very often.

    Thank you.

  7. Wow, good question!

    There are some great on-the-job exercises here:


    Also, why not bring some small hand weights and do some curls while no one is at the register?

    And you can always ask to take a five-minute break every few hours to speed walk a few blocks. Smokers get breaks--so should healthy people!

  8. Luv this post. I'll bet if you could have been a fly in those SUV's the drivers undoubtedly complained about all the other vehicles that kept them from getting closer ot the practice area. I belong to a country club (golf course) in SW Washington and some people will drive their golf cart virtually onto the green rather than walk 25 feet. It's pathetic.

  9. Thank you for the link Molly! And the hand weight idea -- which I've been using the past two days.

    Also, the toe raises are a GREAT idea! I can do those pretty much all day. I found a couple of other exercise to do at work, including "butt squeezes" and leg lifts from the chair that really make my abs burn.