I wandered a bit, but all that prelude was a build-up to what is bugging me this week. You may not realize this if you live outside our state, but in California we are in the middle of a massive drought with no end in sight. I just heard on the morning news that even The Farmer's Almanac is predicting that our drought will continue through next year...so why do people still continue to water their sidewalks in an attempt to maintain a pristine green lawn? In my neighborhood there are a few that still seem to be oblivious to the water shortage, but overall, we are pretty careful around here. But this week Sean and I went to a conference in a land called Desert Hot Springs. I am sure it will not surprise you that even while out of town for a bit, I still drug Sean out of bed early to go on a crack-of-dawn morning run with me. As we went out, a runner was just finishing his run and jogging in. He gave us a little wave and then warned us to be careful out there. I wasn't sure what he could mean--wasn't Desert Hot Springs a pretty nice area overrun with Snowbirds and retired people?
Within about 100 yards Sean and I experienced first-hand what there was to be cautious about--the sidewalks. Yes, the sidewalks! We found that you couldn't run easily without having to watch your feet from flying out under your body. Sidewalks that are overwatered over a long period of time develop this layer of sediment and a mossy kind of texture that makes it very slippery. I had to ask Sean a couple times if he had accidentally driven across the border into another state while I accidentally fell asleep in the car on the way in the previous night. Wasn't Desert Hot Springs still part of California? Why didn't the water conservation rules apply to the city streets here?
Now it isn't just about the wasting of a limited resource that bothered me--it was also a safety issue. Case in point. As I ran down the wet sidewalks, both a mountain bike and a young man wearing wrinkled dirty clothes and no shoes came my way. Now I must have been looking pretty good that morning this my headband and spiky hair, because when the young man spotted me running toward him, he puffed out his chest and began to strut a bit. Only this young man failed to realize that the people in this city have created an environment where strutting and not keeping one's eyes on the ground can lead to bad things. He took about five steps toward me when all of a sudden his bare feet slipped out from under him and as his body made contact with the overwatered slick grass, he took off like a kid on a slip 'n slide. Thankfully he popped right back up as if he had never taken that embarrassing side trip, and as I ran by he gave a little wave indicating that he had survived the watered sidewalks wrath.
Now because I am so speedy...okay, it was because the young man obviously had no place to rush off to, when I ran back toward the hotel, I once again saw him in the distance. We again made eye contact and this is when-- and I am not making this up--he threw off his shirt and began to do push-ups while watching me to make sure I had noticed him. I guess he realized that push-ups were safer than strutting, and that at least if he slipped here he did not have as far to fall to the ground. I am pretty sure he hit his head when he fell that first because at this point there would be no other explanation for why he would find me at all appealing--I was a sweaty mess! Poor guy! I hope he survived his injuries and remembers that consistently wet sidewalks + strutting = embarrassing head injuries and delusions/mirages of middle-aged beauties running right toward your arms.
Those of you that know me well are most likely crying "Bullshit," right now. You are thinking that I am probably not that worried about the wasted water nor the poor young man who became the victim of said wasted water. You are probably guessing that what was truly annoying to me was that as I had to tread so carefully over the Desert Hot Springs street, I could not keep up my usual running pace. You might be wondering if I was more annoyed that the city officials don't seem to understand that some of us are training out here and have a need for safer terrain to stick to our strict training schedules. Well, you would be wrong. I truly care about our precious resources and about the well-being of my fellow man. Besides, I promptly deleted that awful time from my Run Keeper app, so it didn't really happen, right?