Thanks for the slush-slop shower. Not!

Sometimes neighbors present one another with strange surprises. That’s certainly what happened to me around here.

Hey, it’s the holiday season. It’s prime time for neighbors to shower one another with kindness. Folks offer thoughtful little gifts, fresh-baked cookies, well wishes, crooned carols, and sweet sentiments. 

Only that’s not exactly how it went down this time.

Here in the Upper Midwest U.S., we have enjoyed an all-too-brief, but most welcome, stretch of unseasonably warm weather. This has been an extra-special gift, because it came in immediately and suddenly after a much-too-cold session.

At last, Christmas Eve morning arrived. And we had a few hours of down-time before we had to leave for a family celebration.

Naturally, I slipped into my reflective gear, laced on my sneakers, and hit the road to clock a few miles. I trotted out to my favorite six-mile route, which took me along a couple of county highways and through a loop of lovely farm roads.

The holiday spirit was evident nearly everywhere. Along the way, I was delighted by Christmas yard displays and scents of wonderful things cooking in various homes. Most of all, I was impressed by the many oncoming drivers (particularly big-rig drivers), who veered across the center line to give me a little extra running room.

So I chugged along, grabbing some extra pep and enthusiasm from a high-tempo holiday song station, piping into my headphones. I slogged my way up the big hill at the end of the route and rounded the last corner towards home.

Then, boom.

A neighbor pulled out of the far end of the subdivision in a little white SUV and flew right by me, bestowing me with a surprise gift: a head-to-toe shower of slushy, muddy, salty road slop.

OK, I was gonna bathe anyway before going to Grandma’s. (Hey, it’s Christmas!) But that last mile was extra frosty. And I have to admit: I was more than a little frosted at a certain neighbor.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure the guy didn’t deliberately douse me. Maybe my neighbor is just plain clueless. He might have been on the phone or (worse yet) texting. Or perhaps this is just one more example of how many non-runners really have no idea what it’s like to trudge along out there with traffic.

Drivers: Please be careful of runners out there -- especially in the winter, when our trails are snow-closed, the road shoulders are narrower, and we have nowhere to jump out of the way!

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