Most days I go walking at lunchtime. I tell everyone that this is for exercise and fresh air, which it sort of is, but really I just like seeing the city.
Today, for example, I saw a car nearly take out a couple of pedestrians by trying to do the “quick left” through the intersection when the light turned green, the driver having not realizing people were in the crosswalk. Then he slammed on his brakes and had to sit there blocking oncoming traffic, and he almost got taken out by an oncoming cement mixer. So that was interesting, not least of which because I was one of the pedestrians.
I saw a very realistic drawing of a penis, complete with veins, in the dust on the window of a diner. Underneath the penis it said “wash me!” and I assume that was referring to the diner window, though it could have been referring to the penis.
I saw the boom of a crane swinging wide over what I think is going to be, disappointingly, a parking garage. Disappointing because I have been walking past this construction site ever since it was just a giant hole in the ground, and I will tell you that nothing in life has quite as much unrealized potential as a giant hole in the ground. It could turn into pretty much anything. This one, unfortunately, is turning into a parking garage, but it could have been so much more.
I helped an old lady who was lost trying to find the bankruptcy court. It turned out she was only about 200 feet away from it, but she was walking the wrong direction. I saw her wandering back and forth and asked if she was lost and she said, yeah, she was trying to find the bankruptcy court and it was next to Kinko’s but there was no Kinko’s. It’s true, there isn’t a Kinko’s anymore. You can still see the purple awning of the building, but it’s a FedEx building now, not a Kinko’s. And this lady did not have a phone. I got mine out and found the address of the Southern District of Ohio Columbus branch bankruptcy court in about 10 seconds, and spent another 5 seconds mapping it and figuring out that it was 200 feet away from where we stood, and walked her over to the door. 15 seconds because I had a smartphone, and she’d been wandering for half an hour lost and that, my friends, is privilege.
I also noticed that the building at 8 E Broad St has a giant number 8 on top of the building. Like, a Sesame Street-style number 8 just perched up there, looking like it will topple over onto hapless pedestrians below in a stiff wind. “Look at this building,” it says, “it’s number f’ing 8.” 8 is the number of the building and the number of the building is 8.
And then also there was the usual motley assortment: flocks of blue-suited businessmen; paranoid dudes who think everyone can tell they are smoking weed, which is true, we totally can; suicidal Jimmy Johns bike messengers; office workers at noon, when all the buildings disgorge their occupants into the streets as though ridding themselves of an unsettled meal; and those who fit nowhere into this taxonomy, moving through the city for no other reason than because it is there and so are they.
That’s why I go walking downtown. I suppose the exercise is all right too.