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Neighborhood Rollerblader Maneuvers Street Detriments


People who are working from home are seeing a lot more of their neighbors than usual, and that means witnessing scenes that maybe we didn't know played out while we were at work. MORNING EDITION producer Chad Campbell tells us something that he saw.

CHAD CAMPBELL, BYLINE: I found this story just a few steps outside my front door. There's really not that much to see on Grand View Drive. It's a typical suburban street not far from Washington, D.C. - nice houses, mature trees, well-maintained lawns.

JAMIE JONES: Howdy, neighbor.

CAMPBELL: But there is this guy.

JONES: My name's Jamie Jones. I'm 59 years old, and I love rollerblading.

CAMPBELL: With a reflective mesh vest over his bright blue T-shirt, he is dressed for safety.

JONES: I'm like a bubble boy. You know, I've got wrist guards, elbow pads, I've got a helmet, got knee pads.

CAMPBELL: And when Jones is skating, he also wears an intense look of concentration.

JONES: I would prefer never to see myself rollerblading because I'd probably never do it again (laughter). Jokingly with my family, I say I'm Zeus on wheels. Well, my daughter says I'm more like a crossing guard with pads on wheels, so, you know, everything is relative.

CAMPBELL: Jones started rollerblading a few years ago for the low-impact exercise, and he skates just about every morning before work for up to an hour. He needs to avoid cars, obviously, but also kids on bikes and dog walkers.

JONES: One of the things that do scare me are squirrels because squirrels have no rhyme or reason. You don't know which way they're going to turn.

CAMPBELL: And there are even smaller dangers facing a neighborhood rollerblader.

JONES: You've got cracks. You've got cracks that spread out like spider webs. Those are imminent threats to me. Pebbles, you know, are like boulders, you know, because they can lock your wheels.

CAMPBELL: They're such a nuisance that on most evenings, Jones walks his dog down the streets picking up pebbles, brushing aside rocks and generally clearing his path for the next morning.

JONES: It's just me and the blades and the road. I don't mean to rhapsodize about this. I mean, you know, it's just, you know, an old guy on roller skates (laughter) you know?

CAMPBELL: Jones likes our street because it's flat. He mostly goes back and forth from one end to the other, every once in a while maybe a loop around the block. He doesn't go far, but...

JONES: It's my world. That's the only thing - it's the immediacy of the moment. And, you know, when I'm doing this, all I'm thinking about is that space in front of me. I don't have to think about what's going to happen in an hour or two hours or what's going to happen at the end of the day. I have to focus on what's going to happen in the next two or three seconds.

CAMPBELL: And after posing for a couple of quick pictures, Jamie Jones is back at it - a few more minutes without having to dwell on deadlines or chores or errands, just an intense focus on the small patch of road ahead.

Chad Campbell, NPR News, Alexandria, Va.


Chad Campbell
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