Monday, 30 March 2009

Short On Money, But Long On Time

I find it hard to believe that come sometime tomorrow it will have been 4 weeks since I moved from Scotland to the State of Utah. Time seems to have flown by. Just 12 months ago it would haven't even crossed my tiny mind that I would ever have moved from Scotland in the first place. I wanted to travel sure, and do so often, but move permanently? Nope! Wasn't on the cards. Certainly not to the USA. And it definitely wouldn't have struck my mind that I would have made such a move when the world economy was suffering from panicking men in business suits shouting "Retreat, Retreat, Retreat!"

Sorry I don't know where that bit of momentary nonsense came from, I'll blame it on the Diet Coke - the Coca Cola Company is big enough to take the blame and I'm small enough to send them some.

Anyway back to normal programming - here I am in Utah and I'm loving it, although still somewhat confused as how circumstances in life can change so rapidly. 12 months ago I knew very little of Utah other than it is a landscape photographers paradise. Yet in just 10 short months after meeting and falling in love with a beautiful Chilean American woman that I adore I've uprooted my life and made the move to a city with strange numbered street names that make a walk around town feel like a double period of mathematics. I'm used to street names like Sauchiehall Street, Argyle Street and Great Western Road and now I'm getting used to Roads with names like something hundred west, something hundred south, something hundred east, and something hundred north.
To be honest I find the new street names less interesting than the older ones I'm more used to, but my significant other will probably just say I'm just looking back with rose tinted specs. I'm not so sure about that but I will admit it is easy to find your way about town with a numbered grid pattern - if you have a car. 

Can't really say the same about walking. Those 6 and 8 lane roads make it a little bit harder to cross a road as a pedestrian. In the land that begat me, pedestrians are king. Not so in the USA. Roads here are not built for people walking. Where I'm from space is limited, so buildings tend to be built upwards, here those same buildings seem to spread outwards, as a result everything here that you could possibly want seems to be further apart. So its not really conducive to walking but I like walking so I stubbornly do it anyway. Why not? I have lots of time on my hands and my girlfriend works nights so I have a lot of daylight hours to waste and a new city to explore. Today I went out for a walk for an hour and I saw 5 people walking the whole time I was out, and one of them was a crossing guard. I've been for a few walks here now, so I'm getting kind of used to the loneliness now, and the sound of the confused dogs barking. Just like Fight Club, nobody mentions Walking Club but members here do look each other in the eye and give each other a silent knowing nod thats says good morning/afternoon depending on the time of day. Back in Glasgow walking was no big deal. Everybody did it. No matter if you owned a car, used the bus, the train or the underground you would still walk somewhere and often. Here, not so much, mostly people just walk from a car parking space to the desired location before returning to the car and driving off to the the next car park. 

Now my girlfriend gives me crap frequently  for my reluctance to upgrade my British driving license to a US drivers license. But I'll be frank, I'm kind of scared to, and not for the reason she thinks. It is not because Americans drive on the opposite side of the road but the fact I feel like I would probably kill some unsuspecting walker. I mentioned that back home pedestrians are king. Not so here. In this country you can get arrested for the heinous crime of jay walking. And even when you have waited patiently at a pedestrian crossing it can take up to 8 minutes before the lights say "ok now you may walk - Freak!!!" How do I know this? I looked at my watch whilst waiting to cross an 8 lane road on a return trip from Walmart. Even when you have waited this length of time to legally cross as a pedestrian you still very much gambling your life as I discovered one and half seconds later after stepping on to the road with 7 bags of shopping in my arms. Now I walk fast but I wasn't expecting the lights to count me down '20, 19, 18....' on an 8 lane road after just 1 and half seconds. I kind of assumed someone would have programmed the pedestrian crossing to take into account the speed of little old ladies with hip replacements, but I forgot little old ladies in this country don't walk, they drive 4x4's. And by the time the pedestrian crossing had counted 17 one such 4x4 turned the corner and narrowly missed my backside. Had I been a weaker person I may have shit my pants. In fact had I ate Mexican food for breakfast I may still have shit my pants no matter how strong a person I am - that stuff seriously shifts a lot of toilet paper. Anyway I had no time to jump up and down with rage at the near miss as now I had 16 seconds to cross 6 and half lanes. By the time I was half way across I still had the right of way for 12 more seconds, or so I thought. Mistakenly as it happens because by now traffic was moving behind me and in front. Its no wonder dogs bark in a confused manner when I walk past their yard, its probably because after the mail has been delivered they haven't seen anyone walking all day.  Still despite it all, I persist in walking, if I can handle walking in the cold wet streets of Glasgow I can handle walking in the cold but blue sky days of Utah. Besides there is less chance of killing someone that way. I half suspect that if I drove here that there would be a small but significant chance that I would kill or injure some unsuspecting pedestrian and as much as I like American living I really don't want to visit an American prison. Besides at the moment I have too much time to kill so I may as well discover the city this way, at least until I can afford to invest in a bike.


Some Chilean Woman said...

Correction -the United States Postal Service people don't really walk'll see them driving their air conditioned vehicles in the summer.

Scotsman said...

Why am I not surprized? At least crossing guards still walk, although I half suspect they will in a few years be spared the indignity by being given electric buggies.

Some Chilean Woman said...

No, they will just be replaced with robots. Wall-e!

Hillary said...

Actually Carla, they do walk. As a result of the economy. The post office is now forcing postal workers to park their car and walk. Which is causing a lot of older postal workers to retire early, because they can't carry 50Ib bags. It is a way of laying off people without having to actually lay people off. You ask how I know this? Tiffany's husband Dave is a postal worker. He has always walked even before this has happened, but his route was closer to downtown.

Hillary said...

You should walk to a bus stop that takes you to trax. Take that downtown and walk around there for a day. There a lot more people walking down there and a lot more exciting things to see. Historical buildings and such. Just hop on to find out which bus to take. There is definitely not much to see in West Jordan. It is a lot more "spread out" then downtown is.