Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deanna: It's Only 15 Blocks...One Way

From Deanna Matzen, Earth Ministry's Operations Manager

I decided to take my carlessness at work a step further this week. One of the reasons I usually drive to work is that I have errands to run and they're just easier if I can do them in my car on my way home. The two errands I run consistently every week are taking book orders to the post office and depositing checks at the bank. Both of these are located within 15 blocks of Earth Ministry's offices, making for a nice 30 block (1.5 mile) round trip walk. So this week I decided to walk my errands and throw in an extra trip to the copier.

This week we had about 10 book orders that needed to be mailed. That equates to about 20-30 pounds of books. If I had to carry those books in my arms, I never would have done it. Luckily, we have a bin on wheels with a handle. I filled up the bin, carried it down two flights of stairs and started wheeling on down the street. Fortunately for me, Ballard has a lots of sidewalks. By the time I got to the post office, I had peeled a couple layers and was glad to unload.

After the post office, I walked 2 blocks to the copier to pick up the next mailing. As I stood there watching the guy look for our order, I saw him go from small box to small box to small box to very large box and then stop. Arghhh... I know I made a quite audible and visual expression of distress because the guy asked, "How far away did you park?" I gestured to my rolling bin and said, "I work about 15 blocks from here." He replied, "And you walked?" "Yeah." So he kindly taped up the giant box (at least another 20-30 pounds) and put it in my bin.

I crossed the street and deposited checks at the bank then headed back to work. On the way back, I turned the corner at the library and saw an expanse of concrete lifting up and away from me. I glanced above the street and saw the spire of Trinity United Methodist church, the home of Earth Ministry. I thought that it didn't look too far away, but the walk was going to be uphill, all the way. When I got to the church, I left my load inside the front door. I couldn't bear to carry those 20-30 pounds up the stairs knowing that they needed to be walked down the next day and taken to the mail house. Since I don't have a car at work, I had to rely on Jessie or LeeAnne to drive the mailing to the mail house, so in retrospect, I could have left the mailing at the copier and let one of them pick it up on their way to the mail house. Oh well. I thought it would be smaller.

The whole trip took about an hour. Which is the real reason I usually tack these errands onto the beginning of my commute home. Walking takes time. Driving is quick. I could have completed it all in about 15 minutes or less using my car and there is plenty of work in the office to do with that other 45 minutes of time. But at least I got to see the light of day while at work. That's a rare treat!

Carbon Saved: 103.6 lbs


Anonymous said...

Your walk sounds so healthy!

Lizard said...

Are you sure it would have only taken 15 minutes by car? I routinely run errands like these on foot because I like to walk (and need the exercise). On the rare occasion that I do the same errands by car, I find it can be very frustrating to find a parking space, do what needs to be done, drive a few blocks, find another parking space, etc.

Even if your estimate of 15 minutes is correct, getting outside for an hour is healthy both mentally and physically. I suspect you were more efficient/focused as a result and easily made up the 45 minutes you "lost" as a result of walking.

The apparent ease of using cars in America makes us "penny-wise and pound foolish". We may save time (though often less than we think)but we increase stress. Walking may take longer but it's not only less stressful but the exercise and fresh air are antidotes to other stressors in our lives.

But, hey, I LIKE to walk, so I'm biased. In any event, good for you!

Earth Ministry said...


You make a great point about perceived efficiency. Luckily for me, it really does take no more than 15 minutes because Ballard is less congested than, say, downtown. When I deposit checks in my car, I use the drive-through, so no need to find a parking spot and I seem to be quite fortunate to find a spot near the post office very quickly. And, if the spots around the post office are full, I just head home and look for a blue mailbox along the way or drop them off on my way into work. Driving is especially useful when it's raining, which is a good portion of a Seattle winter.

I'm not saying that using my car is the better option. Rather, I'm just trying to illuminate the reality of perceived benefits. I was quite glad for the walk because it gave me a much needed physical and mental break. I am so trained to just stay in the office and keep working through lunch and breaks because there is alway so much work to do. It's not right, but it's the reality I've come to know.

While I sometimes walk or ride my bike to do errands near home, primarily in the spring, summer, and fall, one of the positive outcomes of this Lenten journey is that I find myself craving a long walk, and what better way to do that than to run errands. I hope that Lent continues to challenge my concepts of time and help me to choose walking more, not only for the benefits to Earth, but for the benefits to my mind, body, soul, and spirit.