With my CBR broke, and not
wanting to use the "Beast"
for commuting duty; Flo has been dropping me off in the morning
and picking me up in the afternoon at the shipyard. This arrangement works out
well; most times, but every now and then things just don't go as planned.
Wednesday afternoon I was late coming out of the shipyard gate and she
thought I was taking an opportunity to work some overtime. But, this was the
evening before Thanksgiving Day and no one in the shipyard was working
overtime. I got caught up in a search for one of our crewmembers who missed the
last safety check before going home. I was about an hour late coming out the
gate and of course Flo was gone.
It was a nice afternoon and I went in
search of a pay phone to call her and get a ride home. Trying to find a pay
phone was a mistake of great proportions as I was about to find out. It seems
with everyone having a cell phone Ma Bell has decided we don't need pay phones
I could either walk further downtown or start walking uptown
in the direction toward home. I headed uptown walking up Huntington Ave. It
becomes crystal clear just how big Newport News shipyard is when you walk the
full mile or so of its length. I was clipping along at a good pace actually
enjoying my pedestrian status; even after working a full day on my feet. Of
course I didn't figure then that I would have to walk very far.
was getting more comfortable with my pedestrian status walking up Huntington,
the situation began to change for the worst. I had to pee. Now this isn't
usually a problem but at my age it has become one. When I have to go I have to
go; there is no putting it off. (It's just great getting older.)
there is no place from 50th street to the junction of Warwick and Huntington to
stop except for the bushes and landscaping hiding the shipyard from view along
the road. Trouble is its fall and there isn't much foliage left on those bushes
and there are homes across the street and still a steady flow of traffic on
For at least ¾ of a mile I was not having a great deal of
luck suppressing the urge to go. I crossed the street and hid myself as best I
could in the bushes and relieved myself. What a joy of relief that was; I
figured now I was good until I got home providing I didn't get arrested before
that. I could imagine some little old lady getting upset looking out her clean
window and seeing this scruffy bald headed guy hiding in the bushes; and then
calling the police.
I finally reached the Seven Eleven at the junction
of Warwick and Huntington after passing several stores which didn't have a pay
phone or the phones were out of order. I kept on walking, I crossed the street
again and now I was walking with the traffic heading uptown on Warwick
Boulevard. It was a pretty nice evening and the Shell gas station wasn't too
far up the street.
I dam near got ran over trying to cross the on ramp
to Mercury Boulevard, think motorcycles don't get any respect try being a
pedestrian especially a old tired one.
At the Shell Station there
was a guy who was using the only working pay phone they had. As I walked up he
asked me for a cigarette; I noticed he had a cell phone on his hip and he was
using the pay phone. I imagined he was concluding some nefarious criminal
activity and didn't want his cell phone's identity discovered. This fellow
looked every bit like a drug dealer and I figured it would be best if I just
"Sorry I don't smoke." I said and just kept on walking.
Perhaps it's safer to call your supplier and customers on a pay phone, I
thought about this as I walked on. What are they going to do when Ma Bell stops
repairing and maintaining pay phones
I was walking at such a fast
pace I was working up a sweat, of course I had on a sweat shirt, my coveralls
and a back pack with my empty lunch box and empty thermos. I was rather glad
they were both empty too.
Still no pay phones as I entered Hilton
village. The next Seven Eleven's pay phones had out of order signs hung on
them. Once again I just kept on walking only to discover that there are no pay
phones in the little village of Hilton. I walked along maintaining my fast
pace; which maybe the same as your slowest pace; but, it was the fastest pace I
could walk. I passed allot of people on the street in Hilton enjoying the
While I was walking it seemed as though I was passed
by an unusually large numbers of motorcycles and I kept thinking that perhaps
it was an omen. I have a perfectly serviceable Jeep, and one and half running
motorcycles and I'm out here walking home after a full day in the shipyard.
Leaving Hilton and still heading uptown I passed a lot of homes.
On this side of the street it was pretty dark with lots of trees, bushes and
hedges blocking out the feeble street lights. Just as I stepped out of the
darkness created by the overgrown foliage into the open expanse of the driveway
I was attacked by a dog. The little 7 pound dog may have thought it was a full
on attack and that he had successfully defended his master's home. His fierce
defense forced the strange bald headed human to leave. I just thought he was
lucky he didn't get close or try to bite me. If he had bitten me I would have
been forced to defend myself and I was now too tired to put up much of a fight.
Surviving darkness and dogs I finally arrived at the Miller Mart, and
lo and behold a working pay phone. I popped in a quarter, dialed my number and
the operator comes on and tells me I have to drop an additional twenty five
cents for ten minutes. Wow, what a rip off, 50 cents for ten minutes, no wonder
everyone else uses a cell phone; it's cheaper
I'm glad it wasn't a
long distance call.
Flo answered the phone and I told her I was
walking and where I was. I told her I had to keep walking because I had to pee
again and my legs were starting to hurt. As long as I kept walking I would be
By now I had walked about 4 or 5 miles, and I was walking at the
same pace I started out at. I kept thinking that my Cardiac Surgeon would be
proud of me and his work. My legs were now hurting as bad as they did last year
when I had to walk on the tread mill during the stress test. But this time I
didn't have nurse or doctor monitoring all of the sensors tapped to my chest.
As I continued walking, I heard footsteps gaining on me pretty fast. I
figured this is all I need, getting mugged on my way home all the while trying
to hold my water. What a great story this would make for the newspapers "Old
Man Kills Mugger and Wets His Pants".
At the last minute I turned to face my attackers fully prepared to do mortal
combat; it turned out to be two rather good looking young women who were
jogging. I turned and came face to face with thease ladies to see a very
confused look on their faces. It had to be the first time they had confronted
an old man with a killer who has to pee bad face; they cautiously took a detour
around me leaving a allot space between us.
I was rather relieved I
didn't have to brush off those old street fighting skills and more thankful I
didn't wet my pants. I figured if I had to defend myself I would immediately
release my water and while my aggressor was laughing I would then kill him.
After all I couldn't let him tell anyone that I wet my pants in fear which
wouldn't have been true.
I kept on walking. I was pretty sure that Flo
would catch up with me by the time I got up to the Burger King. Now I face a
new dilemma; Burger King had rest rooms readily available. But, if I duck in
and use them I might miss my ride and have to walk all the way home. So I
decided to keep on walking; now I was getting very uncomfortable trying to hold
my water; in fact it was starting to hurt.
I was walking past all of
the new cars at Bowditch Ford when I knew I had no choice but to find some
place to go. Lucky for me the back road which cuts the corner of Warwick and
Harpersville was dark with lots of bushes. Yes once more I heeded the call of
Mother Nature in a semi public place. Fearful of discovery, yet feeling the
glow of relief I nervously released the water I was saving. All the while I
kept looking back and forth to make sure I wouldn't be discovered. When I
finished I walked on to the corner.
Here I decided to take a little
break and wait while standing under the only street light, hoping that Flo
would arrive before the cops to arrest me for public urination. Getting
arrested and going to jail I could do, but trying to explain to the judge in
front of all the people in the court room about how my crime spree or pee came
about would be more than I could bear.
all seen movies where folks were either lost in the forest, out on a desert or
adrift in a boat at sea, when a plane passes by and they know they're saved.
But the plane just flies on by without any sign that they even saw them. I now
know how that feeling.
I'm standing there in glow of the street light,
fully illuminated as I watched Flo make the turn up Harpersville Road off of
Warwick and head straight for me. I knew my ordeal was over and I was now
feeling relaxed and glad to be rescued. All of sudden without a warning she did
a U-turn and went back the way she came. I waved, jumped up and down, and
yelled; she just completed the turn and continued on, her timing was impeccable
she caught the green light at the intersection and disappeared back into the
How could she miss me standing here in the light; I had to look
like a hooker with a backpack waiting for a car to come by and make a deal for
services. The only thing on the corner was the light poll behind me and lots of
light, how could she have not seen me
Ok she would be back
anytime I thought. Feeling a little depressed as well as tired, I kept on
walking up Harpersville road. I had to keep walking, my legs would soon quit on
me if I didn't keep moving. This section of Harpersville is not well lighted
and doesn't have a sidewalk on either side. It does have a 2 foot deep culvert
ditch about 12 inches from the road bed on either side. Here I am trying to
navigate in the dark along the edge of the road and not fall into the culvert
or get hit by a passing car.
Once again I found out pedestrians don't
get any respect, as I walked I came close several times to getting hit. Several
times I saw the cars veer back to the center of the road after near missing me.
I think they were deliberately trying to hit me.
As I came up to the
Catholic Church I came across a guy who was looking for the homeless shelter.
He told me it used to be over here but it's been moved and he asked me if I
knew where it was. I gave him a few cigarettes and we talked for a few minutes.
He went on looking for the homeless shelter and I started walking thinking that
maybe I should have gone with him, I was feeling rather homeless myself at this
I made it to Morrison the little hamlet on that end of
Harpersville and crossed over the tracks. The only things that you find in
Morrison are funeral homes, churches and a factory that builds roof trusses.
This was a town before the county was incorporated into the city of Newport
I continued on to Jefferson Ave and still no sign
of Flo. I crossed the Harpersville road to make use of the sidewalk and the
pedestrian crossing at Jefferson Ave. I was surprise that all through my walk I
had caught every light just right on the way home, something that never happens
when I drive the car or the bike.
After crossing Jefferson I was on
the wrong side of the road; if Flo did come by she would never see me. It was
dark; this section of Harpersville doesn't have street lights. I was really
glad for the sidewalk, walking on the grass just tires your legs even more. Ok,
walking on the grass has less impact on the legs, but it eats up energy which
at this point I was running low on. At least on the sidewalk it gave me some
safe distance from the oncoming traffic.
I cut the corner at the light
where Harpersville road makes the left turn. I cut across the parking lot of
the Farmers Market and damn near twisted my ankle. They are rebuilding from the
fire they had last year and some of the parking lot is still under
construction. And yes it's not lit.
At this point I'm in the home
stretch only about 5 blocks to go. Once again no sidewalks, no lighting and
more ditches. How is anyone supposed to walk in this city without sidewalks?
This section does have streetlights, but the trees are still holding enough
leaves that all you get is a dim glow to see by. Just enough light that after
you twist or break an ankle you will be able to see yourself fall.
cut the last corner and turned down my street in the final 200 yards of my 8
mile walk. I felt a little angry that Flo had missed me, but at the same time I
felt pretty good; tired yes, but good just the same I could see the end of my
Flo finally caught up with me just as I started walking up our
driveway. I had walked the entire 8 miles in about an hour and forty minutes; a
trip that only takes 15 minutes by car or motorcycle. I was making about 4.5
miles per hour not bad for an old guy. I could only think about how nice it is
to ride those 8 miles, or any miles. How many times had I rode out to the
strangest places got lost and still got home in time for diner without having
to resort to walking home. I became a non-smoker, attacked by a dog and then
mugged by two lovely joggers, broke the law twice, learned that cell phones
could be a useful thing, and that walking is pretty good for the soul.
The walk home made me very thankful for owning a car, two motorcycles and a
very comfortable set of work boots.