There’s this amazing phenomenon I was unaware of until I started running outside. I call it “The Runners’ Greeting”. Sometimes it’s a smile. Sometimes it’s a nod. Sometimes it’s a “Hi”. It’s this thing that people do when they’re out walking/running and they see someone else who is out walking/running. For some reason, walkers/runners aren’t afraid of other people out on the street. They have a bond with others they’ve never met and will probably never see again. These people know that–just for the simple fact that we are both out here walking at the same time–we have something in common and we’d probably be friends. I have to admit that part of the reason I wanted a dog was because I wanted to be “in” this little circle of people who greet each other (dog people are even better at “The Greet” than runners) and I have to tell you, it is everything I hoped it would be. Other runners really do nod their head and smile at me now. When I was in a car watching them run as I sped past at an insane rate I didn’t get this special treatment from them, but now that I am outside of my car, I’m one of them. I know that these people and I … we’d be good friends.
When I was in college there was an old man who would run down the highway I took everyday. Did I mention this guy was old. He looked like he was working hard out there running everyday. He looked tired. But this amazing thing happened as I drove past that first time. He waved at me. What’s going on? I thought to myself. This never happens. I waved back. And everyday I looked forward to seeing him. And everyday he would wave and I would wave back.
After I became a runner and made all these friends and then got back in my car i was surprised to find out I–me, not my car–turned into nothing more than a machine to the other humans in this world. I started crying out from the driver’s seat, “I’m a person too! Smile at me! Wave to me!” I keep thinking, “Hey! We’re all in cars out on the road at the same time! We should nod and wave to the other cars out on the road. We’d probably be friends!” But no. We’re not friends.
I think we’ve forgotten that underneath that hard steel frame and shell that cars are people, too.