I walk fast. I always have. So did my mother, she sped along at a pace that few could keep up with. (My father swore that at her funeral people would be hurrying after her casket yelling, walk, Charlotte, walk!) I like walking fast. I get places more quickly, leaving me more time to enjoy them or take advantage of what they offer, I get good exercise, and it’s the pace I like. I still notice things along the way, stop to look at a flower or pat a friendly dog or contemplate some temptation in a shop window or gaze at a cloud formation. But my overall speed is pretty up there. Yes, I have been known to stroll, but even my strolling is faster than most. On a crowded sidewalk I weave in and out a lot, although I always try to be courteous to my fellow pedestrians. One of my pet peeves is people who totally block the sidewalk while walking very slowly – obviously I don’t include people with mobility challenges or children in that group, although I can get irritated at those parents who don’t bother noticing that their kids are blocking someone.
This speed can cause problems. My partner does not walk fast. Anywhere we go I start to pull ahead, and she complains that I’m not walking with her. We spent one summer traveling and she still claims that for 8 weeks all she saw was my rear end disappearing ahead of her. I do try to keep pace with her, but the crawl (to me) starts to drive me crazy. If I see that I’m way ahead of her, I’ll slow down to let her catch up…but she has this annoying habit of when she sees me slow down she is so pleased about it that she slows down as well….which means she doesn’t catch up, but remains several paces behind me. This irritates me no end! I could, of course, just stop and wait, but then I’m just standing when the goal is to get somewhere.
When we used to walk the dog together, it drove the poor thing nuts, her herding instincts kept her running back and forth to try and keep us walking together. At least she got good exercise that way.
The only time in the past quarter of a century that the situation was reversed was when I was pregnant and after a doctor-mandated bed rest for a month. I moved along so slowly and got tired so incredibly fast that partner found herself constantly having to wait for me. It was certainly a novel experience for both of us, but it didn’t last long.
Kidlet is another story. She usually walks as fast as I do, but rarely walks in a direct line from A to B, instead she goes off to the sides on numerous tangents along the way. This can, as you can imagine, cause complicated situations when all three of us are roaming, say, a mall. I’m a few stores ahead, kidlet has darted into one of the stores across the way, and partner is trying decide whom to try to catch up with and stressing out (and letting us know about it).
It’s not just a family issue. At work I go to lunch with several colleagues who walk incredibly slowly across the plant to the dining room. They tell me slow and steady wins the race, but I’m not in a race, just impatient with slow! A minor daily irritant, but I try not to get stressed over such a trivial thing, it’s not worth it.
On the rare occasion that I meet someone who walks as fast as I do, it’s such a pleasure! I don’t have to be vigilant to slow my pace and can carry on a conversation without talking back over my shoulder.
When I walk for exercise, I can set my own pace, and it’s great. For several weeks I joined a walking group, and while I was usually in the front of the group, at times I had to struggle to keep up, which was wonderful. Unfortunately scheduling conflicts prevented me from continuing.
So…are you a tortoise or a hare? Do you believe it’s an inherent trait or learned behaviour? (Well, most things are both, the question is to what extent…) And how important is it to you?