Old Habits . . . Die Surprisingly Easily

For years, my daily routine when I’m at home has been unvarying:  when I get up in the morning, I take a brisk walk, on the same route, in the same direction, to get the blood pumping and the brain engaged.  I did it rain or shine, hot or cold, without exceptions, with no ifs, ands, or buts.

When we lived in New Albany, my route took my around the Yantis Loop.  When we moved to German Village, my course changed to circumnavigation of Schiller Park.  But in either case, the early morning walk was a key component of the day, mixing inner compulsion, simple enjoyment, and a desire to be sure to get some exercise before plopping myself down behind my desk.

I would call my morning walk routine a “habit.”

But when we came to Maine recently and had to self-quarantine on the footprint of our cottage for two weeks, I was unable to take my morning walk.  The first few days I got up early anyway, but in short order I realized that I there was no need to do so because I couldn’t take my walk, so I might as well roll over in bed and sleep a little longer.  And that turned out to be pretty enjoyable, actually. 

By the time the 14 days was over, I found that my routine had been shattered.  On the first day after the quarantine ended, I took my walk, but on the second day it rained, and I decided I should just stay home, without really giving it much thought.  But when I did think about it, I thought:  “What the hell?”

So clearly, my long-standing habit has been broken to pieces and needs to be reestablished.  I thought the saying was, “old habits die hard,” but that turns out to be totally wrong.  Maybe it should be, “good habits die easily.” 

Pondering The Penny Pick-Up

If I see a penny on a sidewalk, or on the asphalt of a rainy street, or on the grimy floor of my parking garage, I will stop and pick it up.  Always.

I’m not sure why this is so.  I probably am just extraordinarily cheap. I may also believe, deep down inside, that picking up a penny will bring me good luck.  Or maybe I was a panhandler in a past life and old habits die hard.

I guess I always thought that everyone would pick up a penny if they noticed it, because it just seems wrong to me to walk past money without picking it up.  I now know that isn’t true.  Many people apparently would not pick up a random penny on the street.  In fact, not long ago I did so and one of my friends said something like “Ewww, you picked up a penny.  That’s gross.”

After I recently stopped to pick up a penny I found on my path from the parking garage to my office building, I was thinking a professional killer could use a habit like picking up a penny to complete their hit without much risk.  If you knew your target’s habits and were aware that they were a penny-picker-upper, just coat a few pennies with some fatal poison that’s absorbed through the skin, sprinkle them on the path that you know the person will take during the day, and let their inner cheapskate bring about their demise.

Could someone have done that with me?  I considered it for an instant, then picked up the penny anyway.