The Worst Walk Ever

She shuffled along awkwardly, arms floundering; feet wide apart like a sleepy toddler with a full diaper. For the last three days, wet, heavy snow had fallen non-stop, leaving behind an ankle-deep or deeper morass of wet, icy slush that drowned the sidewalks, streets and gutters of the city.

Beneath the bitter, soggy bog that swamped the pavements, lurked a film of the slickest, oiliest ice – ice as slippery as a teenaged girl’s lipgloss — so slippery that only the most foolhardy would dare to set foot on it. The woman was foolhardy. She was foolhardy about walking. She walked in all weathers; in all conditions. People often stared at her ploughing through a blizzard or plunging through a rainstorm. They stared and shook their heads from the sheltered safety of their vehicles. Sometimes they laughed with delight at their own good fortune of never having to walk outdoors.

The woman, however, enjoyed these adventures. No day was quite like the day before. Some days the walk was light and easy and beautiful. Some days the weather tossed her challenges. But, she had the shoes and clothing and other gear to match and cope with whatever nature had in store. This day, however; this day of Slushmageddon was one for which no human being could ever possibly be prepared.

The woman’s boots were waterproofed and had good treads, but were no guarantee of sure-footedness in these conditions. Nevertheless, she persevered. She persevered despite the strong winds that buffeted her along sometimes faster than she intended or would have liked. She persevered despite the wind blowing her scarf over her eyes causing her to misstep more than once. She persevered despite the wind, that impish Katzenjammer Kid,  picking up slush from rooftops and tree branches and pitching it at her as she made her careful way through the mired walkways.

Not daring to pick up her feet, she slid along, thighs aching with tension, trying to keep as far away from the street as possible. But soon, that was no longer possible, and then there she was – just two feet away from traffic and from her arch-nemesis on this foulest of foul days – the SUVs. And sure enough, in the not-so distant distance their glowing headlights loomed; front grills gleaming evilly like the toothy smiles of dastardly villains anticipating the satisfaction of a deliciously despicable deed.

This gang of tyrant vehicles descended on the woman with breathtaking speed. She opened her umbrella, swung it to her side and tried to hide behind it, but to no avail. The traitorous wind swung the umbrella away from her body at the same instant the SUVs exposed to her their massive, pulsating wheels and defiled her, one after the other, with their filthy discharges.

And then, as quickly as they arrive, they were gone.

And then the woman hurried away, shamed and numb and cold. Her only thoughts were to get to the next short-cut, away from the street and further humiliation. When she reached it she relaxed a little. There was some snow left on this short-cut that hadn’t turned to slush, which made the walking a little easier. The woman cleaned herself up as best she could and assessed the damages. Nothing too serious. Nothing she couldn’t brush off with a damp cloth. Nothing an hour or so in her arid workstation couldn’t dry up.

“Oh well, at least it’s not raining,” the woman thought to herself, philosophically, examining her umbrella, which had been destroyed by the wind and by the wake of the SUV gang.

And then, quite suddenly the skies darkened and a volley of viscous precipitation appeared from above.


30 responses to “The Worst Walk Ever

  1. Keep the faith. One day when the oil runs out, that woman will still be walking while the a-holes in the SUV’s will be crying.

  2. There is a special place in hell reserved for the slushers you know. And you and I will be allowed to visit them and poke them with pointy sticks.

    AND they’ll be knee deep in cold wet slush for all eternity.

    Yes, verily, this is how it will be.

  3. Glen – Bite me. H aha. No really…

    Dr. Monkey – I don’t blame the drivers (much). The know not what they do. They have no idea what it’s like to be on the outside.

    Violetsky – Oui!!

    Lebowski – Meh…it has its own issues

    Cedar – Then you’re not trying hard enough. Come on … it was all funny

    Jazz – Amen

  4. Ouch. Been there. Done that.

    I know it’s really good for the environment, and I know it saves money, but there are some days that walking just…SUCKS.

  5. Slushmageddon is Exactly how the last few days have been. I managed to stare down a car on my slushy road and they guiltily slowed a minute or 2 too late, as they passed me walking. (my driveway has eaten my car…)

  6. I caved and bought rubber boots… none of my other footwear was half up to the challenge of slushmageddon (love it ). I may not be stylish or warm, but durn it, I’m dry. I think one can only hope for one out of three in that triad…
    Sorry your walk was such a bust. However… it’s March next week. Good walking weather ahead!

  7. You know, so many drivers just don’t get that whole walking thing. I can’t count how many times I have chosen to walk somewhere in both good and bad weather, and friends and acquaintances simply can’t believe it. Or they feel bound to stop their cars and offer me a ride, as if walking was some horrible penance. Well, I guess sometimes it is, like in the conditions you describe above, but honestly, walking is FUN, dammit! Yes, I drive to and from work, but I live near all the other services I require, so I walk a lot of the time. And when I am driving in crummy weather, I try to respect the pedestrians out there.

  8. Nothing worse that rain and wind together. That was the weather here yesterday and it destroyed my last umbrella. Thankfully, there was no slush. Had that earlier this year though.

  9. Friar – I usually don’t mind walking whatever the weather, but this was just nasty. It was coming at you from all sides.

    Alison – The boots were troopers. My feet were the only parts of me that stayed dry!! And I didn’t fall down once.

    Gokalie – I was on a bus on Wednesday as it drove by a group of students near Ottawa U. The driver managed to get top speed and stay nice and close to the gutter so he sent up, literally, a wall of dirty slush that completely drenched those poor kids. (and they were on the sidewalk!) You could hear them screaming and cursing for blocks.

    Susan – You should get some Blundstone’s. I wore mine all week and my feet were dry and warm and they look quite fetching I think.

    Pinklea – Pedestrian is pretty much a dirty word around here. The whole infrastructure of the city is designed to discourage walking and encourage car driving. Sidewalks are random and end for no apparent reason so you’re suddenly on the street. Highways bisect everything so you can’t walk over around or under them, so you’re stuck and have to get in a car or on a bus if you want to get to another section of town. Cars totally disrespect cross walks. I can be standing in the pouring rain waiting to cross a street with a stop sign and cars will just cruise on through without even stopping — nevermind letting me go.

    Linda – Please tell me it’s lovely, lovely spring in Paris now? Rain and wind I can handle.

    LGS – Thank you. Coming from you, it might actually work!

  10. So much easier to see the humor in the situation after-the-fact. I can remember quite a few days like yours when I worked in the city and had to walk 10 city blocks to the train in all sorts of weather. The worse was the frigid, pouring down rain, on a blustery day, when even if I had an umbrella, it wouldn’t have done a stitch of good. My wool suit clung to me and water was literally streaming off it. Let’s not even talk about my plastered-down hair. I was cursing the gods that day, but afterwards, I could laugh about it.

  11. Ah yes February and March in Ottawa.

    My worst walk ever involved 3 crying children, getting lost in my new town on the way home from the post office (Wolfville), a hill that makes people blanch with fear of having to climb and cyclists get off their bikes and push them up the hill, and an asthma attack that left me lying on the sidewalk. Luckily a student hauled us all into his old beater of a car and brought us home. My puffer was empty and I ate coffee grounds until Papa Pan arrived and could take me to the doctor.

  12. Skye – Ewwww! I didn’t end up too badly off. I’m usually well-prepared for most weathers and don’t care if I look like an idiot dressed in waterproof gear over top of my regular clothes. So even on a day like the one in this post, I’m usually okay. The worst part was trying to walk through the slush that had ice underneath it – very slow going.

    Geewits – Ya, it’s been a messy few days. I’m hoping all this slush means it’s almost spring though you hear all sorts of people proclaiming that we’re still due for one big winter storm before spring comes. Pessimists!

    Mudmama – Okay. You win. That sounds infinitely worse than getting a bit splashed and having to walk on slippery sidewalks. The whole slushfest of the last few days actually reminded me a lot of winter in Nova Scotia/Halifax where it’s pretty much slushy for the entire season.

  13. Trashee – That’s nice. In 5 weeks winter will be over anyway. The groundhog said so.

    Loth – Go sit on your warm sunny deck with that cup of tea and gaze out over your tropical garden ..that should warm you up

  14. Just by fluke I had a car that day- job interview in the burbs. I was so-o-o-o nasty and me with dress boots on! I managed to get a soaker inspite of myself. It seemed bad form to take my boots off and dry my feet while talking with the nice man. I should have worn the flamingo orange rubber boots. Would that have been a point in my favour I wonder?

  15. Yes, it was pretty crappy being a pedestrian in Ottawa last week. But it sure was nice seeing the sun come out and melt most of it away this weekend!

  16. Only Kingston beats Ottawa for vehicle slushislides. As for Thursday’s snow? It clogged the satellite receiver just as the final flight of women’s figure skating was starting. So, the woman slogged out across the lawn, teetering along in her husband’s snowmobile boots and coat, to brush the slush off the dish. And got back, soaked, just in time to miss the Canadian skate. You know that sudden melt we got? Caused by heat generated by me swearing, I betcha.

  17. Paul – Nature is amazing isn’t it? Anytime we have too much wet, it’s always followed by wind and sun to dry it all up.

    Mary – Halifax was the slushiest place I’ve ever been. All winter long, nothing but slush. The slush is up to your knees on some curbs and gutters — impossible to cross the street without hip waders

  18. I agree about Halifax. My point on Kingston was that it is the worst place I have ever been for being drenched by passing cars. Princess Street, for example.

  19. Well they are bright orange-pink!
    I can only hope so as I was invited back BUT then the call didn’t come when expected, soooo. . . I dunno!
    The person I interviewed with did mention plans for this week to get married and travel to the Caribbean . I am hoping life got in the way and he WILL call when he returns. Until then I soldier on launching resumes at every opportunity.

  20. I do not ask to walk smooth paths
    Nor bear an easy load.
    I pray for strength and fortitude
    To climb the rock strewn road.

    Give me such courage I can scale
    The hardest peaks alone,
    And transform every stumbling block
    Into a steppingstone.
    Gail Brook Burket