The Luv Doc: Juke, Bob, Weave, and Sidestep
Not even Obama has good enough Obamacare to run that gauntlet
Dear Luv Doc,
On Sundays since COVID me and my friend have been walking Town Lake for exercise. In the fall it sometimes gets fairly crowded with tourists and people who are out to enjoy the good weather. Most everyone is friendly and accommodating of the other folks on the trail, but there are certain runners who always act angry/annoyed when people moving at a slower pace get in their way. This weekend we were walking on the right side of the trail as we always do, and there was a family of five walking beside us on the left at a similar pace. A woman jogger who was wearing a visor came up behind us and said, "On your left," but we couldn't really move more to the right because there wasn't enough space between us and the vegetation on the side of the trail, so the woman in the visor had to slow down because the family to our left was using up the rest of the trail. After just a few seconds jogging slowly behind us she screamed, "ON … YOUR … LEFT," really aggressively right in our ears. I moved ahead and made space for her to get through, but why should I have to accommodate her? We have just as much right to be on the trail as her. So did the family beside us. I don't understand why certain runners think they're more important than everyone else. We were following the rules, she was just mad because she didn't immediately get her way. If anything, she should have screamed at the family to the left of us. Or maybe she shouldn't have screamed at all? Who do you think was in the wrong in this situation?
– Slow Walker
I don't go down to the Hike-and-Bike Trail as much as I used to – mainly because I like to completely ignore the scenery and weave my bike through the hapless pedestrians at terrifying, breakneck speeds. Invariably there will be some energetic Labrador/toddler who surprises its owner with an unexpectedly exuberant mad dash for freedom, necessitating a death clinch on my brakes, launching me headfirst over my handlebars in a heroic attempt to save the life of an innocent. Now, I should point out that I am not categorically opposed to launching headfirst. I've willingly done so on many occasions – usually into reasonably deep water or an extra fluffy-looking hotel bed, but that goddamn cheese-grater granite gravel on the Hike-and-Bike Trail makes for an exceptionally gruesome face-plant, and no amount of enraged cursing is going to have any positive effect on a dog or a toddler. Also – and you're going to have to trust me on this, even though it might seem like you have the moral high ground as you stand there screaming, "Why is your child even on a leash?!?!" with blood and bits of gravel trickling down your face – you will not win the sympathy of any of the other blissfully oblivious perambulators you just whizzed perilously past. No, you will be the crazy person. Why? Because not even Obama has good enough Obamacare to run that gauntlet, much less ride it.
Before I get too emotional, I think it's important to point out that the official name of the trail is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. It's named after former Austin mayor/car dealer/philanthropist Roy Butler and his wife, Ann, who as luck would have it were quite chummy with the LBJ's – that being Lyndon Baines and Lady Bird. As chums will do, Lady Bird and Ann Butler cooked up the idea of a hike-and-bike trail on (then) Town Lake while enjoying cocktails on the balcony of the ex-president's suite at the Savoy Hotel in London. One can only imagine that as they stood there taking in the glorious expanse of one of the most iconic riverscapes in the Western Hemisphere, their white-gloved hands daintily clutching cocktails, Lady Bird turned to Ann and said, "I feel like getting my hands dirty. What's say we dig a river trail back in Austin?" Several A-list fundraisers later, Lady Bird's bold vision of a Town Lake walking trail was finally achieved, and today Austin is the richer for it – so rich, in fact, that cocktails are $20 a pop and honest, hardworking people can only afford to drown their troubles with medicinal weed from Oklahoma.
Now, to answer your question about the crazy, trail-raging, visor-wearing jogger lady: She was wrong, but so was the oblivious family on your left. I don't think it's too much to ask for people to have a certain amount of situational awareness, and the situation down on the AARBHABT is: Don't take up the whole goddamn trail. More importantly, don't go down there unless you're willing to juke, bob, weave, and sidestep. Anything less and you're part of the problem, not the solution.