Weakening pulse not the whole story

20:10, Jun 30 2013

Thinking back, it's a good thing there wasn't anyone else out on the street at the time.

Because I was shouting, or something close to shouting, at someone who wasn't there. Or that's what it would undoubtedly have seemed like to a passerby.

So the pre-dawn desertion of the Timaru central business district worked in my favour. What, I wonder, would a fellow early morning walker have made of the bloke in trackies, sweat top and beanie standing on the corner of Church and Sophia streets and yelling words to the effect of "You've got to be kidding me!"

So in case there was someone out there who went unnoticed in my state of high dudgeon, I'd like to explain the situation.

I wasn't shouting at an imaginary person on that darkened corner, I wasn't on the phone - though that would have been a plausible explanation - and I hadn't just come close to having my feet slide out from under me on an icy footpath. That has happened to me this week, but it wasn't that morning.

No, I was shouting at the pedometer on my waistband, and with good reason too. Or at least I think so. Because it seemed to be cheating me out of precious steps.


I hadn't intended to write again about this year's Global Corporate Challenge - involving teams of seven walking as many steps as possible over 16 weeks - for several more weeks, but sometimes these tales of woe are thrust upon us. As a columnist you learn not to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth.

The reason for my animation was the number I'd seen on that pedometer. It wasn't what I was expecting, not even close. And I was irritated, to put it mildly.

The figure I'd seen was just over 1500, apparently the number of steps it had taken me to get down Church St to that corner. I was exasperated because, in the early weeks of the challenge, I'd worked out I took an average of about 2300 steps to get to the Herald's front door down Sophia St. I felt cheated. My pulse was weak.

Not my actual pulse, I should add. The pedometer participants are using this year is known as a Pulse. It's smaller than last year's version, but apparently more versatile, and also features, I think, a stronger belt clip. That aspect is important in this story.

As I walked on down Church St, I was muttering darkly about my low 'Pulse' rate, shifting it around on my waistband to see if that would help. I don't think it has so far. When I got into the office to write this a little earlier, it was only reading about 1700 for the trip.

It didn't have to be that way though. Until last Saturday morning, I'd been pretty happy with the steps I was recording, though recent stormy weather had limited my time pounding the pavement.

On that morning I'd been tracking pretty well too, despite rain in the air. I found myself diverting to South Beach to watch a cargo ship, the Bison Express, being helped by the tug Aoraki and our port's pilot boat into the heavy seas that were still pounding the coastline.

Having watched that drama unfold - Lindsay Coulter's photo on Monday's front page showed just how tough conditions were - I walked on happily, intending to use the morning to up my step average. And I was on a healthy 10,263 when I had to stop off at a public toilet - I won't call it a convenience, because it was anything but - to answer a call of nature.

It was at about the moment I hit the big flush button on the wall that I glanced down at my waistband and realised my pedometer wasn't there. So the improved belt clip plainly hadn't helped me. Seconds later, I heard a clunk, and realised it had found its way into Timaru's sewer network. My Pulse was dead.

Fortunately, organisers issue participants with two each, but I'm now hyperaware of Pulse Mark II, checking it's still there several times each day. It detracts a little from my appreciation of the beauty of a South Canterbury early morning. And each glance emphasises how the infernal thing is apparently selling me short.

Oh well, I'll just have to walk further, I suppose.

And avoid public toilets.

Another thing: What with comments on timaruherald.co.nz and through Facebook and Twitter, I had a great response to last week's column about misheard song lyrics. Who knew there were so many around? Serendipitously, a video that came up on Facebook was shared with me just two days after the column ran, including such gems as Pat Benatar's "Hit me with your pet shark (best shot)".

But even more aptly, the penny dropped for me on a line I'd misheard for decades. I was driving when Paul Simon's "50 ways to leave your lover" came on; a song I've heard hundreds of times, but not for a while. You know that line you've probably always heard as "just drop off the key, Lee"? I'd always thought it said "jump off the quay, Lee".

You've got to admit, as drastic a suggestion as it is, it does fit the theme of the song. Lee might be a really strong swimmer.

The Timaru Herald