Walking on West Lake

November 10, 2001

They say that golf is a good walk spoiled, but I was still a way from the Country Club when my Sunday morning walk went into the dumper. A driver was angered by my presence on West Lake Street and he let me know it.

West Lake is a quiet street that curves along the lake shore, and when I walk in the street it’s because the asphalt is not as hard as the concrete of the sidewalk, and it’s easier on my hips and knees. I am cautious. I was a Boy Scout. I walk on the left side, facing traffic. I make eye contact with drivers. I watch front tires to see if they are veering my way. If I hear cars coming from both directions, I step off the road entirely until they pass.

But my thoughts and habits were of no importance to the man in the white car. As he drove past, he raised the back of his hand and shook it at me, his face showing disgust and anger. A few minutes later, as I approached a driveway, I heard a car coming from the Village, slowing behind me. I stepped onto the grass, then stopped. I heard the tires stop.

I stood still for a moment, took a breath, and then turned my head to see if the car was going to turn in. The driver began shouting as soon as we made eye contact, about how “we” went to the expense of putting in a sidewalk and people like “you” should have the sense to use it.

Just minutes before I had been standing on the jetty, listening to the church bells ring in the hour. It was about 7:15 a.m. I did not understand how anyone could be that angry at that hour. But he was livid. At the conclusion of his safety message, he waved me past his driveway. But I was not in a mood to take any more direction, and I certainly wasn’t going to step in front of his car. I waved him on in return. He shook his head and turned in. I should have left it at that, but I wanted to explain. “The concrete is harder,” I began and he shouted back, “Not as hard as your death!”

Well, there was no arguing with that. He gunned his engine and drove up the hill to his home. It’s a nice house overlooking the lake; I’ve seen it on antique postcards.

With the car gone, the morning was quiet. Even the birds had stopped chirping. I looked across the street at the recommended sidewalk. It ends just past the angry man’s house. I stepped off the grass, back onto the road, and walked out to the Country Club.

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