Yesterday I went out to run stairs later than I usually do. I would like to get better at doing things at different times. I think it could be good to run the stairs in the early evening, for instance, or go to the Brattle for a movie at nine o'clock. I tend to do these things earlier. I'm not out a lot at night. I should be coming and going more then, too.
I'm heading out soon to run stairs before I take the train to West Medford, where my dentist is for an 11 AM appointment. Yesterday I ran 3000 stairs around one o'clock, it probably was. I mentioned a book about the stairs. There is a press--with whom I've done business--that has a series like the 33 1/3 series, except centered on an object. Could be trains, could be flowers, could be telescopes, could be stairs.
And, as always, I know how deals have come to be. I know the people, the relationships, the backgrounds. A proposal was sent for a book in this series on stairs. One of the many things about stairs is that the world comes to you. Which you wouldn't necessarily think happens, but it definitely does on my primary stairs, be they the ones in the Monument, or at City Hall. These are rather national and international stairs, because of the people from all over the country and the world who use them. You also see human nature up close, right in your face--often literally.
But yesterday was quite the stair crew and it was maddening. So there I am, doing my thing, up, down, up, down, when a man who has seen what I'm doing and really should be able to figure it out, sits himself down smack in my flight path, so to speak, at the bottom of the stairs. I use the far right side at City Hall. That's my lane. I am out of the way.
Not only does he sit down on the bottom stair, he spreads out his lunch on that stair like he's having this sumptuous repast. Giant bottle of Dr Pepper here, bags of breakfast sandwiches from Dunkin' Donuts there, candy here. Like it's a table. Not twenty feet away is a place that isn't stairs where he could sit. But nah. He was talking to someone, and I'm not sure, but I think it was himself. He had a Bible, too, that he also provided stair-space for, so this guy was taking up like four feet of stair.
And here was a treat: his ass was hanging out, so every time I came down, I got to see that if I wasn't careful and made sure to look away. No matter how many times you run the stairs, you're looking at the ground right in front of you. Or you should be. It's how you make sure you don't fall. Consider that an ace stair-runner's tip. Mind the ground. Watch where you are going with every step. Good life advice, too, which is how the stairs work. Now I'm jerking my head away to avoid an eyeful of that ass.
Every time a group of kids come by, this guy extends his bag of gummy worms and offers them some, shaking said bag. Frightening if you're a kid, probably more so if you're a parent.
So okay, I alter the route a little. Now I'm pushed closer to the center of the stairs, which means I will have more people clogging my way. Once a week or so, there's this vocal group near the Bill Russell statue, so right before you get to the last deck of stairs. They were there yesterday. And they are awful. I don't know why they are so awful. I don't think they think they are. They wear matching shirts. Yesterday they were green. (The color changes.)
I am baffled by how bad they are. They're all singing out of tune, and the lead singer has this reedy voice. It's a very thin, weak sound overall, and no better than if you pulled some strangers together and had them do a cappella Karaoke, if that were a thing. Well, I guess it's be more like follow the bouncing ball. They sing songs I like--"Hit the Road Jack" featured on the program yesterday--but I'm kind of offended by how weak-sounding and always off-key they are. Why aren't you better at this? I want to ask. You have matching shirts! What is going on here? Also, where do they come from and what are they doing? Why does a singing ensemble show up at this place mid-day?
I'm relieved when they leave. It's a grating sound, made the more so because you're trying to lean in to hear better because they don't project at all. Anyway, they were there doing their thing, when this guy approaches me clapping his hands violently.
Here we go, I thought. This was the type of person wearing sneakers that cost a small fortune, but who couldn't manage a high school education. Really violently he says, "You got this, boss, keep going, you got this, you got this, come on, you got this." Over-animated. Trying to start something.
I'm not a good person to do this with. I don't think I look like a person whom it'd be a good idea to do this with. I'm not going to play along with you, I'm not going to do anything but glare at you and keep going. If you get in the way, I'm just going to continue on and through you if need be. If you are not up to no good, and you say something to me--which happens almost every single time I run stairs--I will smile and say something polite to you, even if it's an answer to a question I've been asked thousands of times. But I have no forbearance for fuckery.
At the top of the stairs, on the side where I usually run--though I've drifted now because of the repast/ass master at the bottom--there's a wall--think of it like a stone railing--and it doesn't have a barrier to stop you from going over it if you got on top and fell. It rises to like a thirty foot drop to the pavement below. So you'd have a problem if you went over. Nonetheless, parents have no problem themselves letting their kids walk atop this wall--it's maybe three feet across--from which if they fell, they could die. They'd be badly hurt at the least. It always blows my mind how many kids scamper up the thing with their parents either being oblivious or not seeming to care.
Sitting at the top of this wall yesterday, while all of this was going on, was a meathead city employee. Hang out around City Hall enough, and you will see how slowly, barely, and poorly these employees work. We've talked in these pages about the crew of a dozen workers the city of Boston sends out there to spend an hour shoveling--when you could just brush it away--a light dusting of snow on the stairs, which I'd manage by myself in ten minutes. This meathead had a sledgehammer, and he set it on the other side of the stairs, closer to the singers, for the task he was apparently going to be doing. Eventually. When he was done sitting.
My guy, with the sneakers who was doing the clapping, goes over to the unattended sledgehammer, and starts fooling around with it. He's hoisting it, swinging it. The meathead says something that began with "Hey, chief," because his sledgehammer is not to be trifled with, which I get. It's an official city of Boston sledgehammer. The guy puts the sledgehammer down, walks--it was kind of this obnoxious strut more than a walk--over to the meathead and asks him if he can rent the sledgehammer "for a few hours."
What the hell. Rent the sledgehammer? So now I got this guy, the meathead--the two of them involved in an intense discussion--the reedy choir, and the crack master at the bottom of the stairs, and I'm still not done. I'm thinking about cutting it short at this point, but I don't like to do that, so I keep going.
I'm coming down the stairs when it was time for the crack master to mosey on. Up he gets, and he bends over to pick up his bag, and down go the pants, and out comes the ball sack and anus. And because I had to see it, you're going to hear about it: the encrusted anus.
This is not what the C-Dawg needs to be seeing as he tries to run his stairs so he can stay strong enough to endure what he has to endure and keep going.
And you know what this guy does? Mr. Bible here? He leaves all of his trash--and again, it was a formidable repast--in the corner of the bottom stair. Dunkin' Donuts wrappers, the bag the gummy worms were in, and even his giant Dr Pepper bottle, after he dumped what had remained of that sweet nectar into his water bottle. Who puts Dr Pepper in a water bottle and carries it around? But good thing you have that Bible, man.
By now, I'm nearly done, but there are crowds of tourists. Tour groups are a problem for me. I will not go around the group. I go through. I was there first that day, you take up a space that is fifteen feet in diameter, and you're going to move. I pass through, the group closes, but there I am again seconds later. Do we really not get what is happening here? You can stand wherever. This guy is just trying to stay to the side, out of the way. The same tour guides, too, will bring their group to the same spot. You know me. You know what's going on. I'm passing through, I'm sweating on everyone. I'm probably not enhancing your Boston experience. Move. These men who might as well be pregnant with twins just stand there like cows in a field made of pavement instead of grass. Move, guy.
With more people, I've lost my lane, and I'm closer to the center now. I have to run and dodge. People aren't looking where they're going. Many are staring at their phone. What you learn running stairs--if you didn't already know it--is people spend a lot of time up their own asses, but that knowledge is enhanced on the stairs. How so? Because we're all outside, moving, and moving in places where we should be looking, if only so we don't wreck or cause someone else to. People are not in the world--they're up their own asses. And thanks to my departed friend, I have a fresh visual to go along with that.
I'm heading up near the end, and I make my way around a couple women looking down at their phones, but as soon as I was clear, I had a new problem, for right in front of me was a man who must have been four hundred pounds, also staring at his phone, and about to crash straight into the C-Dawg.
This man--whose head was more like a boulder than a human head--had on this dainty little mask. Admittedly, this bothered me. You're that concerned about your health, are you? Really? You're that worried about this thing that was barely ever a thing, and isn't a thing now, that you are wearing the mask outside on August 1, 2023? And yet, simultaneously, you refuse to exercise, ever, or have a salad?
And I don't think I'm being vicious or cruel with these thoughts. I understand that people have problems. They have addictions, they have depression. Things that they can't help, maybe, just then and there, much as they'd like to. I have things I struggle with, certainly. But often it's just laziness. People are so goddamned lazy. And they are so hypocritical, and hypocritical about their health. COVID isn't going to kill this man. A heart attack is.
It was only because of a quick cut to the right--sort of like a violent Euro step--that I escaped without contact. This guy had no clue I was ever there. Not a thought that someone else might exist. He would have walked through a group of five-year-olds.
Then I was done. Aggravated, and done. I'll go back out shortly, and there will hardly be anyone there.