I’ve Got A Running Total

“Where are you?” asked my wife when she called me on my cell phone one afternoon.

“I’m in Walmart,” I answered.

“Oh. Are you running errands?”

“No, just running…or jogging, to be more precise. Running in the aisles is not permitted. I just heard a mother say that to her kid.”

“Why are you doing that in Walmart?”

At the time, I was not in the mood for a lengthy explanation, but here’s the gist of it. It was 92 degrees outside—far too hot to exercise. I had considered going to Costco, but I forgot to bring my membership card and there are too many stations along the aisles to sample food, which kind of defeats the point of exercising.

“Are you doing any shopping at all?” Mary Ellen asked.

“Oh, yes, over my right arm I have three T-shirts and I bought some hangers for my closet, which are in my left hand. I hadn’t planned on buying anything, which is why I didn’t take a cart. And this way I can go faster, although increasing my speed makes me look like a shoplifter.

I figured out that going a full lap around the store’s perimeter is close to 1,000 steps, or about a half mile, but going up and down each aisle, I could easily log a full mile.   After a while, I stopped to rest, because I was breathing heavily.  I realized I shouldn’t have taken my break in the lingerie department when I saw moms whisking their kids as far away from me as possible.

My jog was enjoyable. I began in produce and trotted through the meat department where they had a good deal on ground turkey. I took a trip through the pharmacy. Then I zoomed through electronics, sped past Tire and Auto and toddled by the toy department. I picked up speed in the candy section to avoid temptation. I muscled my way through sporting goods and when I got to the cat food shelves, people were in the aisle sharing Instagram photos of their kitties. I slinked my way around them.

After circling the store three times, a security guard came up to me. “What are you up to, Sir?”

“About four miles an hour,” I bragged. Didn’t even get a smile from him.

This reminded me of a time at the old L.S. Ayres when I bought a dinner jacket for a cruise my wife and I were planning.  The clerk forgot to remove the security lock from the garment.  When I left the store, the alarms went crazy.

“Where do you think you are going with that coat?” asked a security guard.

“Alaska,” I told him. Apparently, my comeback wasn’t funny then, either. Maybe it was the same guard.

Toward the end of my workout, I overheard several of the employees on the sales floor talking about me. I considered hiding in a dressing room, but I wanted to reach my 15,000 steps and I am not good at running in place.

When I got to the check-out counter, the cashier said I owed $26.50, but my T-shirts and hangers should have only amounted to $22.00. “What’s the additional charge?” I asked the cashier.

“Mileage,” she told me.

Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@