When I moved to Lancaster I planned to get more exercise and so I bought an Itek watch, which is similar to the more-costly Fitbit watch. It keeps track of how many steps I take, how many miles I walk, how many calories I burn, and how many minutes of exercising I get a day. The first thing I had to do with the watch was program in my daily goal.
Back in the late 1980’s I worked for Publishers’ Phototype International (PPI) in East Rutherford, NJ. That was back in the days before Desktop Publishing, and we prepared the camera-ready pages of various magazines for the printer. I started on the day shift, but soon found myself on the evening shift. I had stopped driving by then and quickly found out that there was a problem with working 4-12. The bus to Jersey City, where I lived, stopped running around 10 p.m. So, I had to walk home at night. It was seven miles, and that first trip home seemed to take forever. I’ve always liked the motto of the Christopher Society, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” So, I looked for ways to make my walk more enjoyable. I brought a Walkman with me and listened to my favorite songs as I walked. Then, after a while, I started carrying two Walkmen. I listened to my favorite songs on one, and recorded my voice on the other as I sang along.
When I listened to myself singing the lead on one Walkman, I’d record background vocals on the other. Then I’d switch tapes and listen to the background while I sang lead into the other. I enjoyed my little walking recording studio. The seven-mile walk zipped by and actually became the highlight of my day. After a while, I left that job at PPI to teach Word Processing in the Adult Education Program at Ferris High School. I missed my co-workers and friends at PPI, but I missed that nightly walk even more. Eventually, over the decades, I forgot the names of my co-workers at PPI, but I always remembered that walk fondly.
So, I had that in mind four years ago when I set my goals on my new Itek watch. I decided to start my new exercise program with half that distance, and typed in my goal at 3 and a half miles per day. I never reached my daily goal until one day when I was on a visit to New York and walked all over the town. Then last year I learned that there was Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby about 3 and a half miles from my apartment in Lancaster. I found a bus that would take me there, but this bus didn’t run late, so I would have to walk home. Like Yogi said, “It was Déjà vu all over again.”
It rained the first time I went to the Roller Derby, so I wound up taking a taxi home. Eventually, though, I went there on a beautiful night for walking, and I brought along my Walkman and a flashlight. Knowing that I’m not in the same shape I was in back in the 80’s, I planned to split the trip into two parts by finding a bar around the midway point and taking a break there. The only problem was that I didn’t spot a bar until I was almost home. I was dragging ass by the time I got home, but I made it, and checking my watch I saw that for only the second time since I had the watch, I had actually managed to reach the daily physical goal I had set.
Last Saturday, after watching the undefeated Dutchland All-Stars defeat the previously undefeated New Jersey All-Stars, I decided to try it again, but this time without the Walkman as I concentrated more on finding a bar someplace along the way. I was starting to get tired when I saw a neon mountain in a window up ahead by the Days Inn. I knew that the neon mountain had to mean Coors beer, and I knew that meant there must be a bar inside the motel. There was and I went in. There was only one customer there. I looked at my watch and found that for only the third time in four years I had reached my walking goal for the day. I could have called a cab then, but I figured that all I needed was to “hydrate” myself and I would be ready to continue.
After a few pints, I was rested, refreshed, and eager to finish my trip home. I walked down the nearly deserted road and the long-forgotten names of my co-workers at PPI suddenly flooded into my memory. From the day shift, I remembered my boss Joanne, her assistant Paula, the other CSR’s Chris and Laura, the typesetter Kathy, the paste-up artist John, and my good friend in Personnel, Debra. From the evening shift I remembered my supervisor Willie T, who was a famous DJ back in his Caribbean homeland. I remembered the paste-up artist Ron, and the other CSR, Debbie. I smiled as some great memories crept into my mind, and I noticed one other thing – I was singing the old songs I used to sing. It truly was Déjà vu all over again, and I was loving it, and maybe, I thought, if I just practiced more, I wouldn’t be so off key next time.
Peace & Love, and all of the above.