Walking Alone

I went for a walk today — not earth-shattering news, to be sure — since I usually walk a few days a week. This time, however, I walked by myself, which is something I almost never do.

The route was familiar, the activity trail at a local park, and as I strolled, I found myself pondering three great mysteries.

The first question weighing on my mind was why, oh why, had I left my Yak Trax in the car, and would I manage to not slip and break a bone on the ice? Since this post is not about a visit to the Emergency Room, you know my conclusions on that one.

The second query was a new one: Is there some winter exception to dog care etiquette I don’t know about? I ask because there were piles of canine excrement all along the path, sullying what would otherwise have been a beautiful, if somewhat treacherous, walk. Apparently, the owners of what appear to be many dogs seem to feel cold weather and snow gives them license to ignore their pooch poop duties. It is as if freezing weather makes it okay to demonstrate a lack of regard for the park and others who use it. Can anyone can explain this type of logic? If so, please leave a comment so the rest of us can understand.

My last thoughts weren’t so much a mystery as a sad reflection.

As mentioned above, I rarely walk alone and for a good reason. Although we live in an area of relatively low crime, I don’t feel safe in a park that, although easily accessible, can be at times deserted.

Do a search for “woman abducted,” then do another for “man abducted,” and perhaps you’ll begin to see why I feel this way.

The first search provides multiple hits about women taken against their wills. The second list of hits is evenly divided between men being taken, and men who kidnapped women.

Is this because women are more likely to be victims of this type of violence? My gut feeling is yes, though I can’t provide statistics to back this up.

While searching, I did come across this report that says a man is far more likely to be victim of sexual violence than to be falsely accused of rape [at least in the UK, where the survey was taken] Completely off the subject, but interesting nonetheless, don’t you think?

I remember when I first realized there was a difference in how men and women perceive the safety of a given situation. It was about thirty years ago, and I was driving home late at night from my evening shift at a restaurant. At that time, there was a serial rapist operating in the area, so I was even more vigilant than normal about locking my car doors and being aware of my surroundings.

When I was nearly home, just a few blocks from our apartment, I saw an elderly man walking alone and thought, “That man, even though he’s old and feeble, walking by himself late at night, will never and probably has never had to worry about being raped. He might be mugged for his wallet, but he almost certainly doesn’t have to worry about sexual violence.”

It was an epiphany to think that half the human population had the privilege of being able to view the world so differently from the other half.

I’ll admit I wasn’t always so cautious. When I was in my twenties, I used to regularly cycle alone before going to work. And although I always enjoyed those morning rides, soon after the “old man epiphany,” I dropped the habit.

So, walking alone today was an anomaly. And, obviously nothing happened because I’m here writing this post.

Still, when I reached a particularly empty part of the trail and saw a man standing alone staring at the sledding hill, bereft of children and parents on this schoolday morning, it made me nervous.

What was he doing there? Why the strange interest in an empty hill?

I’ve no idea, but when I got closer, I saw he was older than me, and I figured I could outrun him if I had to.

You may laugh; that was exactly what I thought.

Later, as I approached the car park, I heard a man cough behind me and jumped enough that he apologized, saying he’d cleared his throat so he didn’t startle me by suddenly looming up beside me.

Am I crazy? Paranoid? Overly careful? I’m not sure.

I can only say I believe women experience the world we live in very differently than men experience it.

Do I think that will ever change?

Not really.

But it would be nice if more men realized such a difference exists.

4 thoughts on “Walking Alone

  1. Wow. Being alone with your thoughts takes you so many places. You can never be too careful. Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Carry a whistle or some sort of deterant. Stay safe and like a good pilot keep your head on a swivel.


    • Walt, Please don’t think this keeps me awake at night or that I view every man I meet as a potential abductor. It doesn’t, and I don’t. I just am aware of my vulnerability when I walk alone, and I’m also aware that vulnerability is greater for me because I’m a woman. I don’t generally walk alone at night or where there aren’t people around, and when I do, I try to stay very aware of my surroundings.

      I don’t want you to think I’m paranoid because I’m not. I just feel because I’m a woman I have to be cautious in a way I think most men wouldn’t realize.


  2. I think I must be very lucky. I walk alone (with a dog) every day. Mostly, it’s not that isolated, but I tend to walk at very quiet times of day. I’ve never, ever felt threatened or nervous except for loose dogs. But I know what you mean about women needing to be vigilant in ways that men never do (or need) to consider. And in particular, I’ve never understood the faulty logic that women should guard and control themselves because men are uncontrolled and can’t help themselves (and are allowed to be that way!) .
    As for the dog poop: no excuses are acceptable. In cold weather and snow the stuff becomes easier and less unpleasant to clean up. It takes seconds to pick up, so the cold is not even a consideration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kate. I also think a dog can make a woman less vulnerable, although I’m not ready to take on that responsibility just so I can walk alone.

      And I appreciate the fact that you get what I’m saying. And the faulty logic you mention is particularly galling as you say. Why don’t we live in a world where we can feel safe no matter where we go (within reason, I mean)? And why is it the woman’s fault if she is attacked because she was where she was or dressed a particular way or had a bit too much to drink? Men can do all these things, and if they are mugged, no one asks why they were so drunk or wore their trousers too tight.

      Unfortunately, I don’t expect this to change. I just hoped in writing my post, perhaps one man would read it and say, “You know, I never realized women have to think about all this.”

      The guy who cleared his throat behind me certainly got it, and was nice enough to try not to startle me. And even though it made me jump, I’m sure I would have jumped higher if he had suddenly shown up by my side. 🙂

      In regard to the dog poop, I think most people are pretty good about it. But yesterday, it just seemed to be everywhere, and I’m not sure why, if the cold weather even had anything to do with it. I even took a few pictures to post to make my point, but then I thought, “Kym, you idiot, no one wants to see dog poop on the path, and they certainly don’t want to see pictures of it!”

      Liked by 1 person

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