“A close acquaintance asked me if I was on ‘hard times’ or wondered if I needed any financial assistance because I was frequently seen walking.”
Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight notable comments. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you deem worthy.
Lacorota’s comment on our Betsy Johnson I-5 crossing article read like a meditation on getting around by foot. Was I reading Whitman, or Thoreau?–no, this is BikePortland! Nevertheless, I wanted to find a comfortable chair and read more.
Lacorota brings up a way of thinking about cars that even well-meaning people express — that there must be something wrong if you are not in one. Here’s the comment:
A close acquaintance asked me if I was on “hard times,” or wondered if I needed any financial assistance because I was frequently seen walking. Walking in foul weather sometimes, with all my rain gear on. Neighbors mentioned seeing me many miles from home. They felt “sorry” for me, older person, walking home in the dark, cold and rain, with a headlamp. I felt sorry for them when I walked by and waved as they were stuck in traffic a half-mile from home. It’s often a parking lot as far as I can see. Many looked fatigued and depressed, sitting there, waiting. Made me pause and consider who was the real loser.
One neighbor I hadn’t seen in a few months wondered if I’d lost my home. I was walking home from a grocery store 4 miles away. I had my groceries in my backpack, rain gear on, and headlamp on high beam. Nope, home is paid for, in good repair, and electricity still on. A-okay.
I assured everyone, I’m doing fine, but appreciate their concern for my non-motorized, well-being. Though I have a sight disability preventing me from driving, it’s equally a conscious choice. Before disability, I walked, cycled, or hopped on transit the same.
But somehow my social status was judged as compromised, mediocre perhaps, because I’m not driving a car. A nice car. Something must be “wrong.” We discussed it later and I told my acquaintance that in some countries it’s not unusual to see bank presidents, the mayor, physicians, and a common laborer sharing the same trains, busses, or cycling the same streets. And even chatting together with a beer.
Thank you lacorota.
Lisa Caballero has lived in SW Portland for 20 years. She is on the Transportation Committee of her neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.