Walking race: blonde foreigner VS hapless Sagawa deliveryman

Who else out there is a fast walker? I wouldn’t call myself speedy Gonzales by any means, but I do tend to wind around the multitudes of people in downtown Kyoto, rather than matching their (glacial) pace. The main streets of Kyoto aren’t all that busy before ten AM, mostly thanks to the department stores not yet being open. It’s a great time to wander around, check out the cafes, and get a feel for the city.

You do, however, need to watch out for delivery folks. Whether it’s post office people or private shipping companies, they’re running amok trying to get packages where they need to go.

So this morning I was trucking along at my usual pace, as I wanted to get to a store as soon as it opened. Dodging tourists, bopping to music on my phone, the whole nine yards.

Enter the Sagawa guy.

Let’s call him S-san for short. S-san was pulling along a hefty cart full of packages, and at an impressive clip to boot. He was hurtling down the streets and taking the turns as only a veteran deliveryman could, with not a single paper so much as rustling on his cart.

And we were matching each other stride for stride.

This wasn’t a problem at first- he started out a good thirty feet behind me. But that was before the light changed and he pulled up next to me, waiting for the signal to turn green.

When we started off, both of us were bemused to discover we were going at precisely the same pace. Me with my backpack, him with his trolley. I caught him glancing over once in the very beginning.

We came to another red light. Together we stopped at the curb, and waited.

I saw him edge a half step further out.

For some reason I can’t fully explain, I copied him, edging just far forward enough that I’d have a lead on him.

He shifted, one foot sliding out to reclaim the lead.

I shifted my weight forward, glancing over at him.

He was staring determinedly ahead, refusing to make eye contact.

Some people edged past us, eager to get on with their days. Several even crossed the street before the light changed, but neither myself nor S-san budged until the light was green. This was a matter of pride. If we won, we would win honorably.

The race continued, right up until we reached one of the many banks along the main drag of Kyoto. Then, the pace changed.

S-san tilted his cap down with one hand and charged ahead, his cart wobbling treacherously. I found myself slowing slightly to stare in awe as he cut me and a few startled tourists off in order to veer right into the front doors of one bank.

Then, there was silence.

I put my phone’s music on Shuffle, shoved my hands in my pockets, and resumed a more leisurely pace past the bank.

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