I guess I’m Old School in more ways than one. Not only do I train with relatively little hydration, preferring to stop for sips rather than haul water around with me, I also avoid wearing earbuds while out running or riding.
Never have I grown used to turning my head into a music receptacle during longer runs. I recall the onset of music headphones with the Sony Walkman. Experimented with it. Didn’t like it. Didn’t do it. Left it to the joggers to own that experience.
Along came Apple products including all sorts of iPods. Generations of them came and went. Some of them are still lurking around as drawer detritus in various parts of our house. Tried them too. Left them home. Love the open air instead.
Even corded iPhone earbuds are fading away now. Runners seem to prefer the uncorded solution, and who can blame them? No one likes that flapping cord.
These days, people are quite keen on tuning out the world. For that purpose, nothing better than having music pouring through earbuds to block out the sounds of nature, traffic or conversation.
That is why it is largely fruitless to say hello to runners on the trail these days. It seems that 50% of the people you meet or pass are tuned in or tuned out. I can’t help myself. I still say hello.
I can tell that my wife is sick of me trying to greet these bud-driven runners. I think it exasperates her to hear me talking to people that don’t hear what I’m saying. It probably reminds her how long I’ve been around the running scene (forever) and can’t seem to change my ways. I’m the Old Guy that still says hello to people while out running.
It will take a while to break the habit of saying hello. In my earlier, competitive days I was typically too focused to care about saying hey to anyone. But not entirely. While training on the Chicago lakefront and through Lincoln Park I met many nice people by starting up conversations. I even scored a few dates that way.
Times have changed. Now that social distancing is a “thing” even on the trails, people don’t want to be bothered by anything outside their carefully chosen bubbles of concentration.
So I’ll have to choke down my hellos or be deemed an Old School Interruptor. Life outside the earbuds still goes on, but some people don’t want to recognize it.
It all raises the question Pink Floyd once asked: “Is there anybody out there?”