A quick walk to the supermarket the other day really got me thinking. I was just popping over there to pick up a couple of things when I started contemplating how lucky I was to live so close to the store. Lucky, that is, apart from the constant traffic and a fairly unappealing view. Tesco Extra isn’t exactly the Grand Canyon! However, being walking distance from the supermarket does make it easy to pick up all the things you inevitably forget to buy on your weekly shop. There I was thinking about this when I started to wonder what the phrase walking distance actually means.
How Far is Too Far?
Well obviously it means a distance that can be walked but how far is that? People have walked across America for instance and I wouldn’t want to have to do that to pick up some carrots. On the other hand I run four miles every lunch time so a 10 mile walk doesn’t bother me at all. I probably wouldn’t want to go that far on foot for carrots either having said that. So I suppose that walking distance is something that is proportional to the task at hand. Carrots warrant only a mile’s hike but if I wanted to see the Grand Canyon then that 10 mile expedition would be well worth it.
Walking distance must surely also depend on your personal fitness and many people are not in great shape. Our population is getting steadily larger and more sedentary as people over eat, exercise too little and use their cars far too much. I know some people for whom walking distance is approximately the number of yards between their front door and their car! Well you only have to watch the antics of shoppers in the supermarket carpark to see what Walking Distance means to them. The desperation to bag the space close to the entrance is all too clear when parking further away and walking a bit would be most beneficial.
I suppose that walking distance also depends on what shoes you are wearing and so I am guessing that a straw poll would reveal that women’s concept of what walking distance is would be somewhat different to that of men’s. High heels, platform shoes and pointed toes are not conducive to walking as I know to my cost. Even my idea of walking distance varies dramatically according to what is on my feet. The majesty of the Grand Canyon wouldn’t be enough inducement to walk 10 miles with my rather high Guess boots on but I would consider at least 3 miles a cinch in my favourite Heavenly Feet shoes. The 10 miles would have to wait until I had got my trainers on though!
So walking distance really is a pointless phrase. It is completely meaningless because people are so different in their levels of fitness, footwear choices and attitudes. For some poor souls just getting to the end of their own drive is a major mission, for others Land’s End to John O’Groats is a casual stroll. It also matters quite a lot what you are walking to. Some places just aren’t worth the effort which is probably why the supermarket carpark is always full.
Article by Sally Stacey