It has happened before, I was in decent shape (for me) and then went back on the road to earn some boat money. This was a means toward an end; an end where I was going to live in a very healthy, minimalist way. I got distracted by this future healthy lifestyle and took my eye off the ball, again. There is nothing healthy to eat for 5 miles on either side of a highway. And after sitting on my butt for 10 or 12 hours of driving, I’ve not been very motivated to exercise. So, predictably, but suddenly, I realized I was back to an unhealthy weight and my fitness level had essentially just dropped off.
My Trek Antelope is my main means of transportation, but I’m only home 3 or 4 days a month and even though it travels with me, I don’t bike as much as I should. I decided that I could walk regularly if I put my mind to it. Recently I’ve got to where I’m doing 3+ miles four or five times a week and feeling good about it. I’ve been doing a lot of prep work on the boat, but I've been needing to do some work on prepping myself as well.
On one of my walks, a car came up behind me and I could hear it start to slow. As the luxury car passed, the nice looking middle-aged woman driver seemed to be looking my way. Up ahead, the car did a gentle U-turn, and pulled over onto the shoulder.
A few times before, I’ve thought I was going to get offered a ride. It may not be that unusual to come across a guy walking down the side of the road for exercise, but out by the highway, on the country roads around a truckstop, exercise may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
Not far from me the lady turned her car a little deeper into the grass and got out. She was head to toe in business attire and walked on uncomfortable shoes. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but without even acknowledging my presence she walked down toward the woods to straighten a real estate sign that had begun to lean. “160+/- acres for sale.” I guess that explained the shoes.
So just last week, it happened again. And it happened right next to some real estate signs. I can’t imagine but it might have been the same stretch of road. A car slowed down as it went by, did a U-turn, and came at me on the shoulder. It was an older Honda Prelude with the paint scorched off most of the horizontal surfaces. Down here in Florida, after 12 or 15 years, many cars have not only lost their sheen, they have begun to lose the paint. Older cars are even rusted on the roof and the hood.
As the car came along beside me, the driver’s window rolled down. At the wheel was a young man; maybe 17 or 18 years old. A mop of loosely curled hair spilled out over the top of a pastel bandana tied around his head. His synthetic sleeveless shirt looked vaguely European and another bandana was tied around his right hand as it gripped the wheel. He must of been headed to an 80’s dance party or was looking for Richard Simmons.
“Do you need a ride somewhere?” he asked with what seemed like genuine concern.
I can’t imagine my appearance; near the end of 3 miles of walking, sweating through my shirt, a dirty Detroit Tiger cap, ponytail, old running shoes, and I probably hadn’t shaved for a few days. I caught a strong whiff of what seemed like both spearmint and patchouli wafting out of the car.
“No, man. I’m a truck driver just trying to get some exercise,” I said as I sloshed my water bottle in the direction of the nearby truckstop.
“That’s hilarious,” was all he said and he drove off, making another U-turn and continuing on wherever he had been going.
At 6:20 pm on a Monday evening, plenty of traffic buzzed back and forth. I was close enough to Jacksonville and the farms out toward Hastings, besides St. Augustine behind me, that all kinds of different people in all kinds of vehicles were commuting in each direction. It wasn’t like I was alone watching the kid’s car drive off but I wondered as I stood there on the shoulder of FL-206 not so far from I-95, what exactly was hilarious?