February 10, 2005

Running errands

Why does this phrase persist? -- Why does any phrase persist? -- Most of the time when people say they're running errands, they are actually driving them.

Back in the distant South Pacific atoll I grew up on I used to actually run errands quite often. It helped that the nearest stores were about a kilometre (that's kilometer for American readers, or 0.6 of a mile) away from my flat. So I was often running up the hill to end a run with bananas, redbull, or liquor as the occasion (and my flatmates) demanded.

When I moved to Minneapolis I thought I'd do more of this, as the city is way more spread out than Wellington, graduate course work puts a premium on multi-tasking, and any teensy-weensy residual embarrassment about wandering round the store or the bank in sweaty clothes would be long gone in a city where I knew many fewer people. But for whatever reason, I haven't done that.

But today I ran an errand. It actually started with driving the car over to where it get its "checkup." And then I ran home. It was great, as I got to run round Cedar Lake, where I really don't run enough. (Click on the link here to see the wonderful new google maps ...)

But the guy at the dealer thought I was crazy. We can have your car done in an hour, he assured me twice. Sure enough, there were plenty of people idling their time away in the capacious waiting room.

"Oh no," I said, "I'm going to run home, and then I'll run back tomorrow to pick it up." He looked at the address [8 miles away] and repeated the offer that the car might be ready in an hour ...

"No, really, I'm going to run home and run back tomorrow. It's much more convenient ..."

At this point he accepted that the Mr. Coffee and free magazines for an hour was less attractive than running across the city in 20 degree weather, but he still seemed to be pondering it.

While I'm not challenging the car culture as much as some, it felt good to be literally running [part of] an errand.

Posted by robe0419 at February 10, 2005 02:59 PM | TrackBack

Not only Mr. Coffee and free magazines, but you also passed up an hour of sitting in the midst of that always-fragrant-car-repair-shop-aroma, the combination of exhaust, dirty oil full of heavy metals, hot steel, grease, and sweat. For a different, more sideways challenge to the car culture than that posed by Jim, you're welcome to have a look at my blog: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/tgus/TransitTales/

Posted by: Tim at February 10, 2005 04:09 PM

Hey thanks for the link Evan. While it is true that I am challenging the car culture, I am still quite bound to the culture of the wheel and all of its inherent socio-economic-environmental problems. Now, your method, my friend, is really getting back to basics. And it's so smart. You run, and you have to go places. Why not run places and kill two birds with one stone?

Posted by: Jim at February 11, 2005 01:37 PM

Oh I like this post! As I am working on running now, I have been thinking about running places too. I sometimes run at lunch time, and thought it would be fun to run to see my wife and chat for a few, then run back. That would be about a 6.2 mile run, which is slightly more than I can run in an hour and still have time to shower, so far. But I'm getting there.
I really enjoyed the way you wrote this one.

Posted by: John at February 15, 2005 09:04 PM
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