Nik's Bleeps

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Out for a stroll

I don’t really like coffee. I don’t really like Starbucks, either. (I hear you grumbling at your display, “Well, that’s fine, then, since Starbucks coffee isn’t coffee.” As it happens, I rather agree with you, but it’s irrelevant to this story.) I find myself there pretty frequently, thanks to an addict friend of mine, so I figured the best thing to do would be to try to find at least one thing on the menu I could get. It turns out there are a few things I like well enough, but that “one thing” is their (soy, decaf) caramel macchiato. And I figured since I’m there so often, I may as well get the app and join their rewards program. (That’s how they getcha!)

A few days ago, they sent me a coupon for 50% off “my” drink, the aforementioned caramel macchiato. It expires today, so I figured I should use it. And since I’m trying to walk more and the nearest Starbucks is 1.2ish miles away, I figured I’d walk there. That was a good idea from my front door to the entrance of my subdivision, after which it turned into something of a nightmare.

Front door

The first thing I notice is that my neighbourhood is not pedestrian-friendly: there is no footpath. This means that every street crossing is a real-life game of Frogger, in which I star as the frog. That’s fine, I need to get my heart rate up, anyway. So I’m walking along for a fair bit, scrunching my eyes closed against the fresh roadkill feathers floating serenely in the breeze, and I eventually reach the main road, where…there is still no footpath.

I live in a very convenient location, if you’re driving: the two big highways are practically around the corner. If you’re walking, this is a problem. Observe, if you will, the hot mess of on- and off-ramps.

Hot mess

So. So far we have no footpaths, posthumous assault by feathers, and 60mph traffic. After I Frogger my way across the ramps, certain each time that soon I will be the fresh roadkill—from a coronary if not from being hit by a car—I reach the huge intersection I need to cross. There are like eight lanes of traffic. Turn-only lanes. And no crosswalk. The median is a wedge of cement which I must straddle to avoid getting smeared by the people turning left. I dogpaddle my way across, as if my maniacal flailing will somehow expedite my crossing.

Finally, there it is. And he sings. Dear god, how Leonard Cohen sings. I walk in and realise the last thing I want right now is coffee. But it’s half off, so I get it anyway, along with some water. I sit down, take a grateful sip of water, and happen to glance down.


I have no idea what that is, so naturally I take a photo before flicking it off my leg. Stubborn bugger refuses to go, too; and then, when it finally does go, I freak out because I don’t see it land. But I’ll worry about that later; first, I have to figure out what it is. Google tells me it’s a…what? A tick? As in, that hematophage that carries Lyme disease‽ GREAT, now I want to burn my clothes and sit in a detox chamber. Now I have no choice but to rush home, so I pick up my coffee and leave, suddenly feeling creepy crawly all over.

On my way back, I have to cross that dreaded intersection again, this time on the other side. The median on this side has about six inches of “curb,” on which one foot can rest in veritable safety while the rest of me hangs out in traffic. Small favours, etc.

Every blade of grass is now home to entire families of ticks, as far as I’m concerned, which is splendid since the absence of a footpath forces me to walk in the grass. While I’m expecting my lower half to be burrowed into with each step, my torso is now suffering the calculated, deliberate, persistent attack of mosquitoes. I ponder the existence of Lymalaria disease as injury is added to insult: my unmentionables cease functioning properly and my jeans are chafing. Now I’m doing that weird side-step stretch walk, feeling like John Cleese.

At long last, I turn into my subdivision and reach my house, at which point I stop RunKeeper and discover that I haven’t even burned as many calories as are in my caramel macchiato. Next time, I’m driving to Starbucks.