I’ve been a walker all my life, not specifically for environmental or health reasons, but because I lived close to school or work. It was only on the coldest days that we were ever driven to school as kids. And even when I’ve had a car, my vehicle spent much of it’s time parked in a garage.

I continue to make the daily trek to and from work. Days and weeks, but rarely months, go by without incident. And then, there will be a near miss. I’m guessing that the drivers just are not paying attention, and it is only through luck, my quick reaction and the fact that I was paying attention that I haven’t been hit.

In the steel-toed days of my youth, I would try to kick their car while flipping them the bird. I figued the visual, coupled with a dented quarter panel would make them look out for pedestrians a bit more. I only even actually connected twice, and I have no idea if I did any damage, though I hope I did. This was almost 20 years ago, before I’d ever heard the words “road rage”. Now, I take a calmer approach, though the anger is still inside.

Today I heard something on the news that shocked and horrified me. A man out for a morning run in Winnipeg, a city that I’ve spent half my life in and still visit regularly, was purposely run down. I listened to another jogger on the radio this afternoon. This is how she described what happened:

She was out for a run with a group at 6am. They were running facing traffic when a car coming towards them accelerated and drove at them. They jumped out of the way and kept jogging, thinking it was another asshole like the one who had swerved at them the previous morning. This time, though, the driver turned around and drove at them again. And again. And again. Another car witnessed the fourth attempt and pulled over. He offered his cell phone and the joggers called the police. They continued with their run but didn’t get very far before they came upon a pool of blood. They stopped. They couldn’t see anyone. They speculated that an animal had been hit. When they saw another person coming towards them, they went to warn him that there was some crazy person driving around. As they approached him, they realized that he was bleeding from a bad head wound. The man, the jogger who had been hit, was in bad shape. The police arrived, and he was taken to hospital where he remains.

In all the times I’ve nearly been smacked, I never assumed it was on purpose. I can’t imagine what could bring someone to do such a thing. Was (s)he high? Does (s)he have a mental illness? The car was stolen, so was this just for kicks? To alleviate boredom or get friends to think you’re bad and cool? I can’t fathom it. My walk home today was somber. My heart goes out to this man and his family, whose lives have been so terribly affected.

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