Yesterday I stopped writing in the early afternoon and went for a run. It was a beautiful and crisp sunny day in Appalachia. With the temperature in the upper 50’s, it was perfect running weather. I layered up, laced on my running shoes and headed out for a six mile out and back run.
I stopped at the midpoint and watched the little children play on the playground for a couple of minutes. Their laughter was contagious as they slid down slides and swung on swings.
Ahhh… to be young again!
I was halfway back home when I saw a young runner approaching. He looked to be about sixteen and was really zipping along. As he got closer, I noticed he would not make eye contact with me. I always like to swap howdies with folks and encourage those who are courageous enough to actually head out the door for exercise.
When he was about six feet away, he said, “Go back to your rocking chair granny and get off the sidewalk.”
Normally, would let a statement like that go, but two things lined up at that exact moment:
1) This young man was judging me.
2) I was having an exceptionally good running day.
I whipped around and caught up with him. Here’s how the conversation went:
“Young man, I’d like to talk to you.”
“Stuff it grandma. You’re not a runner.”
“No. You’re not.”
“Yeah, I am. I run on the track team.”
“Did you notice I’m keeping up with you?”
He ran faster. So did I.
“I really want to talk to you, but not now.”
“Oh yeah. Well when then?”
“When you’re 56.”
He stopped, his chest heaving as he sucked in air.
“When I’m 56?”
“That’s right. Because when you’re 56, have 4 fractures in your lumbar spine, have survived incurable cancer and dozens of broken bones, you’ll have the authority to judge me. So, I really, seriously want to talk to you… in about 40 years.”
With that I left him huffing and sprinted away around the curve. Only when I was out of sight of this young whipper snapper did I stop and perform my own air gasping routine.
I realized how quickly he’d judged me. He’d never seen me and had no way of knowing my skill level. And, for a block or two, even this old woman was able to keep up with him. But in the grand scheme of things, did it really matter? I was out exercising, having a wonderful day. I’m happy to waddle down the road for miles and sweat my way back home. I have the heart of a champion. I’m not offended in the least that I have the gait of a penguin?
That young man judge me based on where he thought he was in his life, athleticism and youth. He turned out to be wrong. Call me crazy but I bet he’ll think twice before he tells another gray haired waddler to get off the sidewalk.
What about you? Have you ever been inappropriately judged? Or worse, have you judged someone else? How did you react? Share it here!