Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Running commentary

I haven't asked her about this in awhile. Still, I am fairly certain that on the days that she works, my mother still jots down snippets to share with my dad when she gets home.

(Click here to read what I wrote about her a few years back).

When I work at the running store, I meet all sorts of interesting people. Like Mom says, everyone who walks through the door -- runner, walker, neither -- has a story. As we talk, I think I'll remember what each one had to say. But (surprise) I don't.

So I followed Mom's lead and started jotting down a few notes myself the last week or so. Here's who -- mostly for better, maybe one not so much -- I want to remember.

1. The pilot. She was laid off from her job as a corporate pilot about the same time I lost my job. Her smile was beautiful; her attitude optimistic. But when she started talking about aviation -- about why she loves to fly and why she misses it so -- her eyes filled with passionate tears. I recognized them, because once in awhile (less than I thought I would, really), I get that way about writing.

2. The half-marathon walker. As I fitted him with shoes, I think he told me four times that he weighs 260 pounds. What I liked about him, though, was that he finished last in a half-marathon last year.
"That is so cool," I said. "You finished it. And somebody had to be last."
"Yeah," he said, "once I got to the Katy Trail, I turned around and there were four police cars right behind me, just waiting to be able to open the road again. One of the police officers got on his radio and said, 'He just started on the Katy Trail.'
"When I crossed the finish line, everyone there shook hands with me."
"See?" I said. "They didn't do that for the person who finished next to last."

3. The Breast Cancer 3-Day walker. One of those women who's so naturally pretty you try not to stare at her, she walks faster than many people run. When I asked how she happened to start doing the 3-Day (did she have a family member with breast cancer?) she told me this:

"My husband's mother died of breast cancer when she was 40 years old. I decided that when I turned 40, I'd do the 3-Day for her, and keep doing it for every year she missed. I'm 47 now, and I'll keep walking for it as long as I can."

4. That uh, other guy. Ten minutes after we locked the doors and midway through his shoe try-on, his phone rang. He answered it, asked me for a pen and paper, walked to a nearby table, and spent a good five minutes talking and taking notes.

By that time (truth be told and despite what my mother says) I wasn't in the mood to hear the story of this chap with the name so Biblical I thought he made it up. Not that his extra thumb that had to be removed grew back more than a decade later...necessitating another amputation. Not that he wanted to bring a friend in to help him choose shoes -- someone who (apparently unlike me) could explain shoe technology to him.

So I smiled, walked him to the door, unlocked it to let him out. I felt a little dazed. Quite frankly, I still do.