New Habits

I was stopped by the cops while walking/jogging my neighbourhood at night just this evening.

QUICK! — what’s the first thing that went through your mind? (that you imagined went through mine).

Whether I want to admit it or not, I’ve been influenced by the popularity of police behaving badly news stories (I’m looking at you, youtube, digg and reddit). So, benefit of the doubt on my part? Nope.

My instant thought was, they’re going to hassle me about something. The next mind spasm was, what could they possibly suspect anyway? I’m in workout attire with a Nano and earbuds firmly in place in a quiet neighbourhood on a Thursday night before 10pm. I’m on a public sidewalk!


Here’s what happened:

I see the police cruiser pass me. I hear it stop. Then that winding-up sound of traveling in reverse gear. Now the car is parallel to me.

Bright white lights.

I unplug my ears and step toward the light intensity, my pupils frantically constricting. When closer I can finally see two females inside. The one passenger side then says in a sincere, concerned voice:

“Excuse me, we’re looking for a mentally challenged adult wearing blue jeans and a tan shirt; he probably has slippers on. Have you seen him?”

I say, “No, I’ve been down that street one block over and now this one, and I haven’t seen anyone outside actually. Sorry.”

“If you see him, could you call 911?”

“Yes, I sure can.”

“Thank you.”

We part ways.


I’m no runner. Not even a power walker, but somehow I just started a new exercise habit three days ago, so being present in the streets of my own neighbourhood at night is, strange as it sounds to me, a new experience.

So what reason did I have for expecting an RCMP encounter that was based on anything other than doing what a good, capable and resourced neighbour would do given the opportunity and a uniform — even searching the night to find a loved one who has innocently wandered away?

I have unreasonable reasons, but that’s about it. A fight or flight nervous system is a reality for creatures, which includes me; I get that. I just don’t want it to be all that I am. Tonight was a step forward in that quest.


I approached a neighbour (of 2 1/2 years) who’s across the street from us. He stepped out to take his wee dog for a walk. I had breaking local news, so I brought him up to speed. The blue jeans. The shirt. Most importantly, the slippers. Then the leash tugged him onward, and I retired home. It was nice to meet Gary for the first time tonight. Hey! I even remember his name, a memory skill that usually evades me.

I’m liking this new habit.

  • Anton42

    Nice story! When I started jogging in my neighborhood, in the mornings, within minutes I had a few stray dogs following me, eying me cautiously, and generally giving me the creeps and forcing me to walk most of the time. I wasn't sure whether I looked like a food or like a toy to them. Neither were they sure.

    So, I stopped after two tries. Then we got a stationary bike, which we even use every once in a while. Yet from your inspiring story I can see what I may be missing.

  • micahwittman

    Thanks, Anton! “[W]asn't sure whether I looked like a food or a toy”β€”that made me laugh πŸ™‚ I say set that stationary bike free and roam the streets with it. How fun would that be!

  • Mahmoud

    You remind me of my friend David. The way you put satire in your story.

  • micahwittman

    I just rent my satire – I'm not so tied down that way. Thanks for taking the time to respond. πŸ˜€

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