Rules of the Road

Yield. Signal. Obey speed limit. No cell phones or distractions. Merge with traffic. Lane ends. Right now, this very moment, these rules of the road are being blatantly disregarded on the 17 times around equals a mile track at the Fort Collins Senior Center. I am too anal to break the rules myself, and I can read, which gives me a head start. Sometimes I get a workout just holding my tongue. I really want to say things like “Hey stupid! The sign says no cell phones.” but I keep myself in check. I amuse myself with fantasies of ripping the phone out of their hands and throwing it to the gym floor below.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday we circle the track clockwise,(and you guessed it ) on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday we go counterclockwise. This is what the sign says, but rules are made to be broken. Sometimes a wayward soul sees a clear lane and goes against the grain. There is much grumbling and mumbling about this infraction. Even the “they” is used like “They can’t read.” Of course,  no one says anything to the rule breaker, because of the “Be nice.” rule. Walkers or runners in the wrong lane create a “run the gauntlet” or “no forward motion” scenario, which makes passing a slower walker a risky move. Check your rear view mirror, yield to oncoming foot traffic, don’t forget to check both ways, say a Hail Mary and go!

On the bike trail, bikers say “on your right (left)” or ring a bell when passing. Usually this keeps both walker and rider safe. I don’t think this would work for traffic control on the Senior center track. Many walkers have ear buds or headphones on turned up to maximum volume for the hard of hearing. A jet engine doesn’t provoke a response, so a meek “Excuse me” doesn’t cut it. My loud panting as I jog is a mere whisper. If you are lucky, a hard stare or scowl at their back, at close range, often creeps them out enough so they wake up and yield.

The “regulars” on the track know the rules and this is comforting to me. We smile, say hello,and trust that no one will careen out of control because they took the curve too fast. If someone doesn’t show up for awhile, I notice their absence and hope theyare on a cruise and not sick or worse. I worry about the “older” walkers and think of myself as young. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

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