“There he is”, I say.
Grasshopper nods, “Yep. The man who runs all day.”
The sixty-something guy chugs past us, oblivious as always, with his headphones playing whatever sixty-something men listen to when they run. He’s wearing his usual spring get-up of gym shorts and a commemorative tee-shirt from some run or another. In the winter he is in a heavy track suit, hat and scarf. I don’t know if he has special shoes to handle the ice or not.
I don’t think it’s ageist of me to worry about him slipping on the ice and breaking a hip. I worry about that for myself, and I’m not even forty yet.
Anyway, every day we are out waiting for the bus, rain or shine, summer or winter, wrath of the great old ones or thankfully pre-apocalyptic, he chugs past us. As reliable as a Maytag is reputed to be.
We call him “the man who runs all day” because one day Grasshopper and I were out running errands on a weekday. It was one of those blessed no-school days, yet we were up and about at bus time (8:00AM), ready to begin the day. The running man was there, on schedule. We waved at him as he passed in front of us. He chugged on, oblivious.
We passed him on our way to the mall to pick up some things at Target, drop some stuff off at the dry cleaners, buy some things the dog needed, get the oil changed in the van. We had lunch at the mall, splitting a plate of Chinese food from the food court.
I decide to take the alternate route home, and there he is, the running guy. It’s after one in the afternoon, and there he is…still running. His knobby gnarled calves churning away at the pavement like pistons in an engine…persistant, mechanical, seemingly effortless precision.
Two hours later, I have to take grasshopper to an appointment. There’s the running guy, strolling along on his way back towards our house, not looking the least bit fatigued. Back straight, slightly paunchy belly moving in a barely perceptible fashion with his easy breathing, bald head not particularly gleamy.
And that’s why we call him the man who runs all day. Because “The man who runs 2/3 of the day” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.