The Woman in the Yellow Shirt

Walk This Way

I grew up in a family of very long legs. It makes buying pants difficult, but man we can get from Point A to Point B quickly. We were also a family of athletes. Despite stories you’ll read here about my complete and utter lack of grace, I held my own back in the day and remain innately competitive.

Due to my long strides and the competitive nature, I developed a habit of trying to pass people when I walked, anywhere, at any time. My mom and I would walk down a beach, a road, a parking lot, an amusement park, a mall, a cemetery… and try to catch whomever was walking in front of us. “Think we can pass the girl with the pink backpack?” “How about power walking Pam up there?” “No problem, let’s do this.”


Working On My Fitness

The habit has persisted into adulthood and single handedly kept me in shape into my thirties. Probably the best example is the great Porter Square race of 2014.

If you aren’t familiar with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority or the Porter Square subway station, just know that the Porter Square stop is so deep underground that I think it has its own zip code and/or the Ninja Turtles live there. Here is a visual of the stairs that lead back up to society.

Great Wall of China - face up the stairs

I’m actually hardly being overdramatic for once.

Porter Square Station - race up the stairs

When I took the train to work back in the day I would skip the escalator and walk up these steps 3 days a week, because 5 days a week would be ridiculous and I’m not a monster. Every single I time I climbed those stairs I was deeply disappointed that a news crew wasn’t waiting at the top to document my achievement.

To keep myself going up these death stairs I would go back to my tried and true strategy of passing unsuspecting commuters. Deeply exhausted by a physically taxing job in which I sat at my desk for 8 hours, I usually would pick out the weakest of the herd and try to pass him or her. Eat my dust person carrying 14 grocery bags/small child/person whose shoe came untied halfway up and had to stop. But one day I felt particularly motivated (to not workout when I got home) so I went for the challenge. The Woman in the Yellow Shirt.


The (Slightly Less Than) Amazing Race

Woman in the Yellow Shirt (WITYS) and I stepped onto the bottom step at the exact same time and she started up with a quick pace. It was clearly an unspoken challenge and Tom Petty had taught me not to back down, so off we went, side by side. She didn’t care at all nor did she notice that we were still neck in neck by Flight 4, but for whatever reason I wanted to beat this woman to the top of the stairs with every bone in my body.

On Flight 7 I took a three step lead on WITYS and the future was looking bright; I could see the light at the top of the stairs and hear the roar of the imaginary crowds. Flight 8 she caught a second wind (of total disregard for the crazy person sweating bullets next to her) and caught up. Here is where I would like to blame childhood exercise induced asthma but I can’t because I hadn’t used an inhaler in 12 years. SO inconvenient.

Halfway through Flight 9 WITYS blazed past me to win by one step. One step… It haunts me to this day. If WITYS is tuning in, I want you to know that yes, we were racing that day. And you won fair and square. Good game. Give me a call when you’re ready for the rematch.


With respect and good sportsmanship,

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