Why tourists make me appreciate work

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As far as I’m concerned, humans have three walking speeds: fast, slow and tourist. There’s little that irritates me more on my morning commute through Times Square than getting stuck on a sidewalk behind a pack of Midwesterners who have decided against bipedal forward movement. Nothing against you folks from the middle states. I’m just saying that perhaps you spend a lot of time in cars and have forgotten or do not know that some commutes involve leg muscles.

I’m what you’d call a fast walker. When I had a baby, that was among the first things I had to learn: kids are a major drag on speed. On recent reporting trips made solo, I marveled at the sensation of being the first off the plane once again. It felt like victory.

Workdays involve a lot of movement, even for pregnant heifers like me. Need to chat with a colleague? I trot down the hall. Want to interview a source in Florida? I hop on a plane. Why, just this morning, I dropped off my kid at school, went to the gym, picked up a couple of books for my father, came home, made tea, and huffed up to my third-floor home office. Even with the widening frontal load, I can and do move around a lot in the course of my work day.

The books I bought for my father are Dave Barry’s Money Secrets (Like: Why Is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?) and a collection of bathroom jokes (scatological, yes, but also for reading in the water closet). He’s laid up in the hospital and I thought he might want some diversion. His leg seized up after his recent trip to visit us, and he hasn’t walked since. He’s worried it means he won’t get back to the office any time soon. I’m worried he won’t get back, ever.

We take a lot for granted in our ability to work, don’t we? It’s so easy to let the little things annoy us, like that flock of high-school students blocking the entire intersection of 46th and Broadway as if everybody else in the world has only one agenda item today and that is to line up for TKTS tickets. Me, I harumph, and then I weave my way through their puffy-coated and texting mass, which I can do, even with my protruding belly. My pop, well, he’d have to wait till they all dispersed back to Milwaukee.

I don’t often think of the ability to work as a blessing. But I should.