Smileage May Vary

Welcome to Partlow’s Pool, the blog of MB Partlow. I’m a writer and a reader. Laughter is my answer for everything, which meshes surprisingly well with my desire to write vampire novels and post-apocolyptic YA novels, among others.

Today I want to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart. And my feet. And my sanity. I’d like to address everyone who uses the magnificent public trail system in Colorado Springs. I’d like to speak to hikers, bikers, walkers, joggers, families, dog walkers, people pushing strollers and juvenile delinquents with spray paint and beer bottles.

Would it really ruin your entire day if you made the effort to nod or smile in return to someone’s greeting? That’s my biggest question. Is being friendly to another human being, to the extent of a simple smile, really that hard?

To those walking: Please stay on the right. You’re not trying to face traffic; you ARE the traffic. Stay to your right. If you’re walking two or more abreast, it’s polite to move to your right to make way for cyclists or runners so they can pass you without incident. Please be sure you know your left from your right. More than once I’ve been on my bike, said, “On your left” to warn pedestrians of my approach, only to see a scene from a Three Stooges movie reenacted as people jump all over and slam into each other. Also, please remember that pushing a stroller doesn’t give you special privileges to hog the entire path. Some of us who have given birth have gotten over ourselves already. Feel free to join us.

Dog walkers. Sigh. I don’t dislike dogs. I dislike unleashed dogs on public paths. I’ve seen people carrying leashes, dog unattached, and dogs wearing leashes with people unattached. I’m sure your dog is friendly and well-behaved and just two IQ points below your children. But the other people on the trail shouldn’t have to come to a complete stop or divert through the bushes at trailside to avoid being bitten, licked or crotch-sniffed.  Honest.  I realize that nobody thinks my children are as brilliant as I do, so please accept the fact that nobody loves your dog, his nose or his slobber as much as you do.  And if you’re letting your 60 pound child walk your 45 pound dog, please see that whole “stay on your right” thing above. Your child is not cute enough to make me enjoy running through the ditch or slamming on the brakes.

On the further subject of dogs, please pack out their poop. I didn’t heave dirty diapers into your yard when my kids were potty training, so clean up after your dog. There are some hiking trails in the Springs that are unbearable, because the first few hundred yards of the trail reek of dog crap.

Runners. Same as walkers, except don’t sneer at those of us who lack a certain sleekness of form, grace of movement and speed. Maybe I look more like a shambling zombie than a gazelle, but I’m trying.

Cyclists. Here’s the big generalization, with apologies to my BIL who has impeccable trail manners. It is: the more expensive the bike, and the more expensive (and matching) the bike togs, the ruder the cyclist.  Dude. Seriously. You can’t tip your head in greeting. Let one muscle twitch into a smile? And when the whole trail is empty except for little old me, why do you feel the need to flash past me with a half-inch to spare and no warning? Can’t you ring a bell, or say “Bike back” or “On your left” or something? Trust me, I wouldn’t go excavating for the wedgy I get from the running shorts if I knew you were riding up behind me.  Yes, I’m wearing an iPod, but I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone who isn’t legally blind that I’m not a teenager, and therefore would like to preserve my hearing for the rest of my existance. Maybe I’m grooving to Those Darn Accordians, but not so loud I can’t hear someone speak behind me.

And just because there are two of you cycling together doesn’t mean you get to take up the whole path. I might not be young and slyph-like when I run, but I’m perimenopausal and cranky as hell. If you think we’re going to play chicken, think again. One hip bump and I might get a bruise, but you are toast, my friend.

Thank you to everyone who has ever smiled back at me on the trail. I know you were probably worried that I was going to keel over at any second, or you might have realized that people on crutches can walk faster than I run. But thank you for sharing a smile and making the morning, in one small way, good.



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16 responses to “Smileage May Vary

  1. Janet

    I had a not so great day and your blog made me smile & laugh. Love you J

  2. Love it, MB! You’re off to a great start (On your left!). 😉

  3. Hey, don’t you go moderating my comments! 🙂 🙂

  4. Vic Cruikshank

    MB busts a move and busts some chops. I’m smiling ear to ear.

  5. Chris Scena

    Loved it MB. If I ever have a blog it will have posts like this. I couldn’t agree with you more.


  6. Hey, MB, don’t sweat it. When Dougie Bruce gets done they’re going to be using the trail system for queuing bread lines.

  7. Sue

    Finally, a blog I actually want to read. It’s a miracle. This is gonna be fun.

  8. Nancy

    First, all dogs bite……mine hasn’t bit anyone but I always warn that even 6 lb. little dogs can and will bite….so beware. I also bag up my dog’s poop when I’m walking her. Mind you it’s about as big as my finger but, I wouldn’t want it in my yard so why leave it in someone else’s yard. Great start MB. Keep up the good work.

  9. You forgot to call out those creepy snakes sliming and wiggling their way across the trail. They never grin and truly sucketh the most.

    Welcome to blah blah blahgdom!

  10. Oh, darling, you don’t want to have to moderate every comment. Too time consuming. There’s a button where you can have it hold comments with URLs in them and other spammy thingamajigs. You’re welcome!

  11. Amy

    Wow, what a crank. 🙂

  12. Great blog, MB! The decay of manners has greatly alarmed me, too, over the years. It’s simply amazing…but I guess I can blame computers, the Internet, job stresses, genetics, global anything, and Becky (it’s quite vogue to blame her about everything, as in: “Okay, who broke the vase [pronounced “vahz”]?” or “Okay, who crashed the economy? Oh, ‘Becky did it…'”). I like to blame Becky, I always feel SO much better. Try it. And it’ll give you a whole nother blog to post (and I’m pretty sure she’ll comment)! Keep on smiling and being the cranky-fun person you are, and “go AROUND the rocks,” as I lately find myself telling myself and others. And just keep saying “Becky did it.” You’ll be amazed at how cathartic it feels! :-] I feel better already….

  13. Mandy

    Hard to pick my favorite part, but not impossible: “Some of us who have given birth have gotten over ourselves already. Feel free to join us.” AMEN! You could do a whole post expanding on that theme, because it certainly applies to more than just trail manners.

    Keep it up, MB! The blogosphere is lucky to have you.

  14. gr

    {You may want to moderate my comments}

    I love that Nancy says “even 6 lb. dogs bite”. Those are the dogs that bite everything and everyone every day! Rowr rowr rowr!!1!

    As long as all I have to do is smile or nod (sometimes I even do a “thumbs up”) then we’re good. Sometimes I’m (barely) finishing a long run on a busy trail late on a Sunday morning when the trail is becoming busy and, literally, every 5 feet someones says “hi” to me. Listen. I have 1 or 2 miles left of a 12-mile run. I’m not wasting my breath on “hi” to a stranger…every 5 feet. I’m saving that breath in case I need a paramedic.

    I can’t believe you didn’t remind those dog walkers with the retractable leashes to RETRACT THE LEASHES. gah. Forgive me.

    And since you mentioned cyclists: one time when I “running” on a trail a cyclist came by on my left, probably warned me ahead of time. As he passed he cheerily said, “Three more!” The next cyclist cheerily said, “Two more!” and you can probably guess the next cyclist cheerily said, “One more!” The last one cheerily said, “Have a nice day!” It was so freaking cute I couldn’t stand it. I wish they would all do it because sometimes I think there is only one cyclist only to nearly get run over by the second.

    Now, MB, when can we expect regular entries?


  15. Brandi B.

    Yayyyyy shes back!! MB, I have missed reading your articles from when they were in that one paper for parents! (we wont mention their names because they were bums to you) Im really excited to see you have a blog now!! Keep up the awesome work….feels nice to read something that makes me chuckle a bit. 😉

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