Thursday, May 24, 2018

When He's Not There

(This post contains affiliate links which help keep this blog running.  See the Disclaimer page for more info.)

The Mr and I will usually walk the neighborhood for a workout here and there, maybe 2-3x week depending on where my leg is in its screwed-uppedness.  (Totally a word.)   It's usually around 4-5pm, and we see our usual doggie friends and their owners.  (Are we the only ones who remember the dog's name but not the parents?  "Oh, I wonder how Roscoe's mom is?"  "Or Barnaby's mom looks sad.")  We walk three laps which is almost the equivalent of 3 miles, and I've never really given it a second thought.

I made a goal to walk in the mornings (hoping to make that a habit), I did my first one Monday.  Given we're starting when I call "armpit of Hell" season  (aka-summer), I know even early afternoon walks aren't going to keep me on track because I will take one step out into a wall of humidity and say "nope" and shut the door.  (Kind of like I wanted to do yesterday.)  So earlyish mornings it will be because I also needed to get out of the habit of being up until 2am, sleep until 7:30 am, be exhausted and try to sleep until I got up at 9-10 am.  This seemed like a good way to kick that bad habit too.   I got on my insect essential oil, sunscreen, grabbed my sunglasses and locked up the house and started on my way.  As I started my walk, a lady jogger trotted past me as I approached the truck with gardening tools and bushes in the back.  It was lawn maintenance day in our hood, and when I'm in the house, it's nothing more than a bit of a nuisance.  I can't do any audio work I may need to do, and I keep the blinds open to signal to them I could be watching so don't even think about blowing that mulch onto my car.  But without the security of the Mr walking beside me, my first solo walk was much different.  I suddenly remembered what it can be like to be a woman doing nothing more than walking even in her own neighborhood.  When the Mr and I walk, there is an abundance of cars and people, at 8:30 am, not so much.  People have headed off to work, are still sleeping if they work the night shift or are lingering over their morning coffee and scrolling their phones.   So it was just me and the gardener dudes.  Some perfectly nice, offering a smile and others seem not to notice me even though I know they are aware of me until I catch them looking as I walk by.  It puts a bit of unease and reminds me that they don't know I have a husband that is usually walking by my side.  It's brushed off as being paranoid, and I continued.

On my second lap, I heard a car with a squeaky suspension coming up behind me.  The black Honda passes but then stops about 4 car lengths ahead of me in the wrong lane.  I got a little anxious, and then I saw the passenger side window roll down.

"Oh hell no." I thought.
"It could be someone lost and needs directions, just stay opposite of them and don't approach the car.  Stop being an idiot.  But remember the license plate number, just in case.  GMC _ _ _ 2" I kept repeating to myself.

I sped up my pace slightly as I walked past the car and didn't even look over.  I heard nothing, was relieved and felt silly for being so paranoid.  There is suddenly a low-level traffic surge of about five cars out of nowhere behind me, and as each one passed, it's not the black Honda I was concerned over.  Then a minute or two later, I heard the squeaky suspension coming up behind me, and they slowed down as they were beside me.  I repeated their license plate number in my head and note that I'm in a secluded part of the neighborhood.  I realized I didn't have my phone on me which is really only good for emergency calls but still if I have an emergency, I'd have to wait for one of the gardeners to almost run over me in the grass if I'm somehow out of commission.   I refused to look over and as they passed, and I saw it was three college-aged guys.  All tall and separately I could take, together, not likely.  I have no idea why they felt the need to slow down to a crawl next to me and am honestly surprised I didn't get fat insults hurled at me (I refuse to use the phrase "fat shamed" irritating.)  I'd be lying if I didn't say I was relieved when they turned out of sight.  For the last quarter mile, there was someone walking behind me, but I didn't turn around to see who it was because I didn't want to seem like a dork, but I could tell by the stride and sound it was likely a man.  A guy crossed my path heading toward my house who looked over and saw me.  When I made it to the point where I turned to head the same direction, he'd slowed his pace quite a bit, and I slowed mine too because, between our paces, I would've caught up to him close to our house or at least close enough for him to see where I lived.   It woke me up a little bit.  When you've been married for over 20 years, and you're used to doing all of your physical activity or being out in the world with your husband, you forget what it's like to just be a woman in the world.  We've had a few incidents of creepers that had escaped my mind until I was out there without my 'bodyguard.'

Wednesday's solo walk was much smoother.  There weren't 25 men all along my walk blasting their weed whackers and mowers.  No cars stopping near me or anything like that.  I had my phone with me, and I installed a pedometer app so I could track as I walked and have it for emergencies

Of course, I was a dork and forgot to put my sunscreen on before I left so as soon as I got home, I put on my rosehip oil to combat any potential damage.  I definitely need to make sure I leave no later than 9am because that's just getting too hot for my liking on sunny days.  But I'm hoping this is a habit that will stick, but I'm glad I had that bit of a wake-up call on the first day.

There doesn't have to be a "threat" to be reminded that you're a potential target just because you're female, that's, unfortunately, a fact.  If I'm going to make this a new habit, then I need to remember to be smart, and that means keeping my phone on me and being aware of not only my surroundings but whose in them.  Sure, it may sound paranoid to women who jog/run daily without giving a second thought or overestimate their ability to "take" someone if approached or noticed but it's always better to be too careful than not careful enough.

Do you go on daily walks?  Have you ever had an experience exercising outside that made you feel uncomfortable?

Like this post? Don't miss another one...subscribe via email or RSS feed. (Or you can follow me on Facebook )  Some posts may contain affiliate links which help keep this blog running.  See the Disclaimer page for more info.


  1. Creepy. I walk the pup pup daily but really haven't had any episodes yet. I get sad because there are so many kids in our hood that are inside on beautiful days probly scrolling their phones.

  2. I used to walk daily for years. I had a few instances of people trying to pick me up, a few times men drove by repeatedly as I walked my route. Even had a lady stop me once and tell me that there was a man who was following people in the area and to keep a watch out. I used to also walk home from work and I had the same car daily follow me home from work. They would drive slowly right behind me all the way to the corner where my house was. This was back before cellphones were big. I was in my late teens, early 20's then so I lived with my mom still. I told her the time it took me (40 mins) to walk and the route that I would be taking. I told her if I wasn't back by that time to come looking for me. I also kept watch really well because the area I walked in was heavily wooded with few houses. And I would never wear headphones so I could hear when people came up behind me. I always felt it's better to be watchful and slightly paranoid then it is to be sorry. Once I got married,my husband didn't want me to keep walking by myself (he works in a jail and sees what kind of people are out there) as we seem to have quite a few homeless people living in the woods around us. I started walking in a figure 8 in my backyard for the 40 mins I knew it took me to walk my 3 miles. This time I brought my home phone outside with me. I'm pretty used to doing things by myself since my husband works crazy hours all the time and it's rare that I get unnerved by people. I find it better to look at them for a few seconds, let them know that you notice them, and then look away. If you have someone coming up behind you and they seem to be walking or running faster, stop and let them pass or cross the road so you aren't in front anymore. Not sure about the people who say crime isn't as bad as it used to be, but it doesn't have to be worse for something to happen to you. I would just say be aware and take whatever precautions you think are necessary.

  3. I walk several times a day. With dog. Neighbor’s dog actually. I borrowed her. Win-win. So that is something to consider. I walk with my phone and pepper spray. My fear is not men, because always lots of people out in neighborhood. But I do fear mean dogs.

  4. As a single lady who lives in what can be kind of a sketchy area, I totally feel this! I usually have my giant dog with me, so I feel a little safer, but you do realize how totally vulnerable you can be. I wish men were more tuned into the fact that ALL women feel this way at times.

  5. I do my walks either with my dogs or by myself. I don't mind when other people are around and I try to say hi to everybody I pass (at least the first time because some people are see repeatedly if we're doing a loop). The only thing I don't do is wear ear buds because I want to hear my surroundings. Partially for danger alertness, but also so I know when someone is coming up behind me such as a biker who needs to get past, or others with dogs if I have mine with me. I enjoy walking with the dogs a lot, but I also enjoy my solitude time when I can really appreciate my surroundings.

  6. I hate that this is something that men don't even think about. I had no idea how scary it would be just walking in what one could call a safe neighborhood (nobody steals Amazon boxes off our doorsteps anyway). But we went on a walk together after I read this post and it opened my eyes to just how different it must be and I will definitely keep you in mind on the days that I am not there so that we can make sure you check in when you return and all that.


Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate your time! (Heads up though...disrespectful or spam comments will be deleted.)