I have been fortunate to have written before with a dilemma and received a wonderfully astute answer – and a dressing down from you at that!
Hence I trust you or your readers to be very honest with me on the following issue, should you wish to address it on your site.
I am a slow walker. I always have been – I have never been athletic and even as a skinny teenager I tended to dawdle more than most.
Now I am an overweight adult (thanks in part to bad habits, and in part to treatment for Thyroid cancer) who is suffering from arthritis that affects my hands and feet. Needless to say, I walk slower than ever.
I still like to walk as much as possible to improve my health and, despite the physical pain it causes, I have always liked a wander.
Most of my friends understand that I walk slowly and are kind enough to fall in step with me when we are to walk a good distance.
I always leave time to make it to my destination at my own speed.
However, on rare occasions, if I am walking with a friend who is in a hurry or impatient, I suggest we split a cab fare or that they go on ahead and I meet them at our destination when I arrive.
This has always been a polite discourse and almost everyone is understanding – that is, except my dearest and closest friend, with whom I have shared a home for the past five years.
My friend never falls in step with me. In fact, going anywhere with him is an ordeal. He is athletic and energetic, and always walks at his own fast pace, leaving me huffing and struggling to keep up, while inevitably falling ten or more feet behind him the whole way to our destination.
I often call for him to slow down, and he often calls back at me to hurry up. He’ll always walk metres ahead, complain the whole way that I am too slow and wax on about how long it “should” take for us to reach our destination. This can be quite humiliating for me.
Often, we end up arguing about his refusal to walk at my speed, at which point he just angrily asks for the house keys and races ahead, leaving me to walk home alone.
I have tried to explain how hurtful his behavior is, but he’s convinced that he’s “encouraging” me to go faster. I have told him repeatedly that I am going as fast as I can – and I literally am.
In fact, his behavior has the opposite effect to getting me going, as I often want to spare us the ordeal of walking together and hence hail a taxi for us instead. Or avoid going out altogether.
I am not making excuses for myself – I am fat and slow. But I wonder what the polite thing to do is? Should he force himself to fall in step with me and walk beside me? Or should we just take cabs so I can spare him the frustration of my slow crawl?
I know he’s being rude, but I wonder if I am too, by expecting him to walk at my pace. I’d like some advice as to the correct way to proceed with our outings in future.
I want to make it clear that my friend is not simply embarrassed to walk with me because of my appearance. He is in other respects a dear and loyal friend who would never in a million years criticize the way I look. He however sees no problem with us simply walking several metres apart – he at his speed and me at mine, while I think it’s quite rude of him. Hence the source of our walking tug of war!
I thank you for any advice. 1227-12
Your walking pace is what it is due to physical limitations. I, too, am a slow walker due to an inherited hip problem and the reality of that is not going to change. My husband and I have an unspoken agreement about it. He always opens the car door and building doors for me but it is not unusual for him to walk about 5 to 10 feet ahead of me. My kids do the same thing when we are walking from Point A to Point B such as from a parking space into a restaurant. They are attentive if there is an unusually high curb to step up or a series of steps to climb and offer a hand. I viewed it as they are scouting out the terrain to make sure it’s Mom safe. In a store, we split up and meet up at the registers at a specified time.
But if there is considerable walking to do, such as site seeing or a day at an amusement park we rent a scooter or wheelchair otherwise I would be a painful mess by the end of the day. Then they match their walking pace to the scooter or push the wheelchair themselves. Everyone is happy with that arrangement.
I see it as a compromise. I do not have an expectation that they must walk side by side with me and I am open to arrangements that gives them the freedom to walk at their pace. Conversely, they show consideration by being alert to possible walking difficulties I might have. To be honest, I have never given it much thought since this compromise works so well. You and your friend need to come to an agreement on how you both shall reach Point B from Point A in a way that is good for both of you. Your requests that he slow down and his hassling you to walk faster is not working. The discussion you need to have your with friend is the level of courtesy he shows when you are walking since he could work on being more attentive to your safety.