GAYS MILLS - Due to feeling a bit under the weather this week and being involved in the Apple Festival I got into a little bind about getting a column done. So I pulled this one out of the archives from July, 2006. I don’t walk or bike on errands as much as I used to because Gays Mills has changed a lot and we moved to the outskirts.
This week I’d like to discuss errands. We all do them, don’t we? If you’ve figured out a way to avoid them please let me know. I’ve consolidated and streamlined errands but they are hard to eliminate completely. Actually, I’m not convinced I’d like to be rid of them entirely. I’d miss them. I like them.
One famous, American, defining errand we’re all familiar with was when old Honest Abe, my favorite Republican President, walked how many? miles to return a borrowed book. That legendary story of him returning that volume told volumes about the man. I feel a slight twinge of guilt when I simply pick up the phone and renew a library book, communicating with a machine.
Errands are one good reason to get up and get out of the house, go out and mix with people. This is particularly important if you tend to be a homebody. It helps balance your life, learn about others, touch base with the world, broaden your horizon. I know, you thought going to the store for milk and eggs was just a chore. But if you run into an old friend you haven’t seen for a couple of months or years, the trip becomes a visit as you clog the aisle in your catching up.
I understand that some rich people hire people to do their errands for them. No one I know, for sure. I’ve heard of people hiring out to wait in line for theater tickets, license renewals, and such. Maybe “errand runner” is a new, emerging job category that the baby boomers will cause to develop. Having servants is something I just can’t relate to, although I have paid to have my lawn mowed from time to time. Does that count? I’ve gladly paid enterprising youths who’ve offered to shovel out for me after a big snowfall. But not too many ask to do that anymore. Another sign of the “declining enrollment” that the schools are so aware of is that there are fewer snow shovelers around.
Experts tell us we should combine trips to save gas and time. I keep an ongoing mental list of upcoming errands. I very seldom just go to the bank. I stop at the store, get the mail, go have coffee with a friend or something “as long as I’m going out.”
Many of my errands are done on foot or by bike. One advantage of living in the village like I do is that everything is right here and handy. It’s a built in exercise program. I like to see how many days I can go without starting the car. They say that short trips hurt the car, but I’m sure that all my little trips under my own power help me by keeping me active.
Back when we had a lumber yard in town, I used to view it as a personal challenge to get my purchases home from there by bike. Luckily I could cut down through the alley so as not to be too big a distraction to casual observers. I felt like I was in a Laurel and Hardy episode as I pedaled along holding 3 or 4 8 foot 2X4’s, partially balanced across the handlebars. My personal best: getting a full 4X8 sheet of half-inch plywood home on my bike. Don’t try this at home kids…….but if you do, avoid windy days.