On Sunday Stephen and I were doing our usual morning run. We were stopped at a light when an old British woman approached us and said, “Young lady, do you think we appreciate you spitting on our pavement? Don’t you have a handkerchief you could use?” I just stared back at her. I was expecting her to ask me the time or the location of the nearest bus stop, not to chastise me for spitting.
I will admit spitting is gross. I would never do it while out and about in regular clothes. But when running it’s often one of those gross necessities, like snot rockets. (Oh, if only she had seen me do that…) I quickly muttered “next time,” as if I was seriously going to carry a spit collection cup on my next run, and jogged on. Part of me wishes I had told her to jog on (British for “go away,” used as expression of anger or irritation).
Stephen told me not to let it bother me, and I tried not to, but as we jogged on I couldn’t help but think of cheeky replies, from the downright mean to the practical. Of all the things people do to desecrate the pavement — like throw down cigarette buts and gum and let their dogs leave landmines, at least my spit was washed away by the rain today. That old lady would have a field day in China, where not only is someone spitting every 5 seconds, but it’s accompanied by a wretched deep hacking sound.
A quick google search told me that almost all runners feel the need to spit, and it’s perfectly OK as long as you mind your trajectory and don’t hit another person. That same search also pulled up that spitting used to be seriously monitored and prohibited in Westminster because it spread TB. *The more you know* So maybe crotchety old lady was just concerned about my health and the health of those around her.
…Or she’s just a crotchety old lady who has nothing better to do than nitpick. In that case she can jog on.