The Puddle Polemic

James Proclaims (4)

Although I can drive, I tend, for the most part, to be a pedestrian. Currently I can walk to work and l live close to most of the amenities I need.

I like walking places. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on the world around me and on life in general. Plus it’s good for you. It’s a light cardio workout everyday without having to go to the gym.

The only time when walking is a bit of a problem is when it rains. I don’t mind the actual rain itself, I have a perfectly good coat, and it’s rarely more than drizzle in Reading anyway.

What does stress me out is puddles. They can be surprisingly hard to navigate and one misstep and you’ve got wet socks.

I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic when I say that having wet socks is the worst thing ever.

If there is something that could arguably be worse, it is the puddle that forms between the pavement and the road. The ones that cars maliciously drive through, and then you end up soaked. And not just soaked but soaked in puddle water. Puddle water is exponentially more upsetting than ordinary rain water.

It’s not the puddle’s fault though. I’m a driver sometimes and I know it’s possible to avoid those puddles, so I can’t help but feel  affronted when another driver doesn’t afford ‘pedestrian me’ the same courtesy.

Every time I see one of those puddles, I find myself adopting an odd half run, half walk to get past them quickly (I can’t actually run because that would elicit strange looks form other people and being judged by complete strangers is possibly my greatest fear). I was lamenting this with my beloved as we tried to circumnavigate such a puddle the other day. Her response is quite different to mine. Whereas I take the passive approach of a victim, she is a touch more aggressive.

“I just walk really close to the curb, so they have to drive around the puddle to avoid me,” was her sage advice, followed by, “and I walk as if I’m a bit drunk, to add an air of unpredictability, so the drivers  have to take extra care because they don’t know what I’m going to do…”

Just one of the many reasons why I love my wife…

But maybe her heroic stance is borne from her Essex origins. Clearly the people of Essex are less tolerant of puddle drivers than most, as evidenced by a story I came across about an incident in Colchester where a driver was arrested for drenching a group of school children. I particularly like the fact that the arresting officer was called PC Hercules. He’s certainly a hero to all of us put-upon puddle-soaked pedestrians.

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