I got up early this morning to walk down to the National Mall. It’s a favorite place for me, ever since Kish and I lived in Washington, D.C. 35 years ago. It’s also a favorite spot for joggers. Why not? It’s long, and flat, with lots of interesting things to occupy your attention as you trudge along. And dawn is a good time to visit, too– especially on a day where the high temperature is forecast to hit 96 degrees.
There are morning walkers, and then there are morning joggers. Walkers uniformly greet each other with a hearty “good morning!” Some joggers, on the other hand, just . . . wave.
Actually, calling it a wave isn’t all that accurate, because there’s no side-to-side motion. It’s just a flip of the wrist and showing of the open palm, as if the jogger wanted to demonstrate that he isn’t carrying a knife or revolver. It’s like the hand that appeared above the head of Paul McCartney on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, which was supposed to be another of the clues demonstrating that McCartney was killed in a car crash. No wonder the joggers’ wave doesn’t exactly warm the cockles of my heart.
I’m not quite sure why the joggers’ wave bugs me. It’s a bit embarrassing to say hello and get the joggers’ wave in return, but that’s not the only issue. It’s like the joggers who do the flip wave think they are better than the walkers, because they’re moving faster and they wear spiffy jogging outfits and have bottles of water hooked at their beltlines, whereas the walkers look like they’ve just rolled out of bed. The joggers are willing to condescend to acknowledge the existence of the ant-like walkers — so far below the Olympian joggers — but they don’t want to be too familiar and encourage too much unwanted interaction.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Maybe the joggers just don’t want to let the walkers know that they are so gassed they can’t say hello without gasping for air. Maybe they can barely summon the energy to do their lame excuse for a wave without stumbling to the side of the road and sprawling on the grass.
I’ll think of that happy thought the next time I’m walking the dogs, say hello, and have to endure another desultory joggers’ wave.