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The Oldest form of Transportation
On Foot in Harm City
© 2013 James LaFond
Well, I suppose the oldest form of transportation would be passive buoyancy. However, this is Harm City, and you don’t want to be a floater in this town.
I have been up for two days and have been hallucinating sporadically for the past 10 hours. That pretty much kills the writing thing. So I thought I would re-title this piece and move it to this page. It was previously left unread at the bottom of the blog due to the poor title. I compounded this mistake by imbedding an important review in it. That is gone, back on the geek page—sorry, blog—where it belongs. Below is an unfortunately titled set of tips and commentary on walking across our postmodern wastelands.
Pedestrian Extremes
How Bad do We Really Have It?
Most of the people I know think I’m crazy for taking mass transit.
Then, when they find out that I walk the bus routes I take on occasion just to familiarize myself with them, they start to wonder openly if I should be institutionalized.
When we have a weather event that stops the buses and I walk to work they think I’m really insane.
I must say though, that my best experiences in Harm City have been as an extreme pedestrian. In a world that decries any walk longer than a parking lot or city block to be a barbaric tragedy, my daily two-mile walks mark me as odd, my weekly five mile walks as eccentric, my monthly ten mile walks as stupid and my occasional marathon length walks as evidence of me rightfully belonging on the Island of Doctor Moreau.
I look forward to such long walks because they are a rare safe and carefree experience. Walking in today’s society, if your route is sensibly selected, keeps you away from the centers of chronic everyday crime and violence. Yes, long walks on lonely stretches and in adverse weather do put one in danger of certain types of accidents and the rare prowling serial killer. I would never recommend extreme walking to a woman or child, as their isolated presence, visible to many passing motorists, will eventually invite unwanted attention from the opportunistic creeps who skulk among us.
[Note: surveying since this article was written indicates that the most dangerous means of transportation is walking to and from mass transit stops, which may be bypassed altogether by walking instead of using mass transit. The second most dangerous moments are had walking from the automobile to the home or to the automobile from a business.]
As a fit man, however, you will rarely find a greater sense of security, peace-of-mind and freedom. That last galled you motorists I know. The modern American sense of freedom is largely vested in our ability to zoom great distances in our vehicles. However, this is just luxury masquerading as freedom. You have never truly been free until you have walked a great distance yourself: not having depended on machines, people, infrastructure, or having your passage monitored, regulated and scrutinized, by traffic cameras, signal lights and toll booths.
Once you have embarked on a walk, even if just for a few miles, you will immediately notice that you are utterly alone. Nobody walks anymore. I dress for long walks always, so that I am never stranded. When I am on a bus line that stops functioning I continue on foot, while the luxury-minded mass transit crowd waits helplessly for a service that may never come. You, when traversing great stretches of rural, urban and suburban country on foot that you once zoomed thoughtlessly by, will see much that you have missed, and come to understand that our cities have great empty inner expanses.
To me, the greatest freedom provided to a pedestrian is that realized when one is able to cut 15 hours of wage labor from his schedule, the time necessary for a grunt to support a modest automobile. I have bought numerous cars and trucks for women and know well what the costs are. Now that I have unburdened myself of female companionship and hence the need to keep my mating unit on wheels, I have truly begun to enjoy the freedom of the man on foot.
This is certainly a gender-based perk. A woman on foot has no such ability to enjoy this natural bipedal state, as she is likely to be preyed upon. For her, it is still the African Savannah a million years ago. The chicks among us—and you effete twerps as well—must remain shackled to their vehicles, but not this urban primate.
I am a man who spent 20 hours per week, of most of the weeks of my life, working to pay for reliable transportation for my dependent non-combatants. As a bachelor with grown children, I now have those 20 hours per a week to live, to pursue sports, arts, crafts, letters, the occasional terrible movie, to shoot the odd Dos Equis commercial, and sometimes enjoy eight whole hours of rest.
There are some specific pedestrian experiences that stick out in my mind, mostly walks through blizzards and in other conditions that have driven the rest of humanity indoors and left the world to me alone.
One such experience did result in a ten mile walk uphill through two feet of snow with a young ill-dressed man, from the Inner Harbor, through the ghetto, and finally into the rarified suburbs. We began the walk with about a dozen other stranded bus patrons, who all dropped out one-by-one to cry into their cell phones for help. This nameless man and I looked at each other and smiled every time this happened, challenging each other to walk harder or face the shame of quitting. We eventually parted with a nod, leaving the rest strung out hoping for police in SUVs to pick them up.
During other blizzards I have had the pleasure of meeting Good Samaritans who offered me rides, and of being able to help stranded people myself. My own extreme walking experiences come to mind at odd times, and always make me glad that I walked rather than sat on my ass whining or pacing like a tethered animal at some pickup point. However, you need to know what you’re doing when you head out for your walk.
Bipedal Survival Starter Tips
1. In bad areas, walk in the street, walk fast, walk with confidence, and walk toward traffic. Those hood-rats strolling in the road with their smart-phone know what they are doing, namely avoiding an ambush.
2. In the suburbs never walk in the street! That Dodge Ram will finish you faster than whatever the urban mugger will point at you.
3. Do nut lug anything. Bearing loads, carrying weighty valuables, and hauling any parcel that could be considered a burden, makes you a target. Shop daily for your food, and then beat them with it when they attack you on the way home.
4. Always carry something in your hand. As with walking in the street in crime-ridden urban areas, this is as much about discouraging ambushes and attacks by canines as it is about avoiding the unsavory attentions of their two-legged abusers.
5. Do not wear a hood unless you keep your hands in your pockets.
6. Keep a spare garment, like a jacket or shirt, handy as a blinder and flexible shield.
7. Do not use an electronic device while walking. It is distracting and valuable. I warned you.
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Thriving in Bad Places Kindle Edition
Your Crumbling Metropolis
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logic of steel
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blue eyed daughter of zeus
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Ellen kushner     Apr 12, 2013

Very informative!I always wear rings,that are defense tools if necessary!:)
James     Apr 12, 2013

When I was 14 a friend and I used to collect two-inch wrench nuts designed for securing the bolts that held light poles to the base-plates that anchored them to the sidewalks. We used a grinder, buffer and files to remove the threads and all but one or two corners. We used these rings instead of brass knuckles, which were not legal. For about a year we even sold these for $2.50: the cost of a week's worth of school lunches. We had kids willing to starve for a week to get one of these tooth-busting rings. I feel your willingness to inflict pain Ellen.
Ellen Kushner     Apr 12, 2013

That sounds cool,lol!Reading your book,The Logic of Force,really good!Love,the pics,too! :-)
Mike_C     Aug 30, 2017

I'm not really expecting an answer seeing as this post is from 2013, but is this Ellen Kushner the author of Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword? (Good and enjoyable books both.)
James     Aug 30, 2017

She was a cashier at a Baltimore City supermarket who helped run the scanning department—a good woman, but not the lady you are thinking of.

Her favorite saying was "Bone on bone, Baby" in response to any query as to how she was feeling, referencing her botched knee replacements.
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