There are steps a man takes through life’s journey that are truly meaningful. For instance, when he walks up to receive a diploma, takes steps down an aisle with a bride or steps up to face a judge. 

Neil Armstrong took a small step he famously called a leap for us all. The most solemn steps are the 21 taken by guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, repeated over and over, forever, lest we forget.

Most of us took our first baby steps when we around 12 months old. Our mommies and daddies squatted on the floor cheering and encouraging us to release the edge of the coffee table and wobble into their eager, outstretched arms. Eventually, we became bold enough and our parents were never prouder. Ambitious babies like to show off and begin walking upright as early as 9 months. Laid back little people prefer to traverse on all fours until 15 or 16 months, when they are much too large for a worn-out mother to be lugging them around. 

I admit I’ve wasted a lot of my own steps, forgetting why I walked into a room or searching for something in the same place over and over, knowing perfectly well I already looked in that spot. I waste steps searching for my phone while holding it in my hand or looking for keys still hanging in the lock. And there’s no telling how much leather I’ve worn out by walking away mad. 

According to my Google searches, depending on their occupation, the average person takes 7,500 steps a day. That means if a person has a 30-inch stride, and they are lucky enough to still be stepping proudly at the age of 80, they will have walked 110,000 miles. At the speed of 3-4 miles-per-hour, they have walked for a total of at least 27,750 hours. This is equivalent to hiking 5 times around the globe at the equator. Nearly halfway to the moon. Or 19 round trips across the continental United States.

The average schoolteacher takes 12,564 steps every school day. I now know why my old English teacher, Mrs. Brewer, was always in a sour mood with those big, fleshy feet bulging out of those hard, black-leather, old-lady shoes. I added a lot of mileage to her daily step total because she had to keep walking to my desk positioned way in the back of the rooom and rap it soundly with her cane to jumpstart me back awake. I was usually so bored and sleepy in her class; it was easy for her to sneak up on me even with her noisy clomping all over the classroom.

If walking is your thing, then you should choose to be a waiter as a career with 22,778 steps per day. When a server tells you, “I love you to the moon and back...”, they really mean it. This is more than 3 times the normal rate at twice the pace. It’s a tough job. Please keep this in mind at tipping time.  Don’t ask me to walk a mile in their shoes because I can’t take watching a bunch of strangers all eating at the same time. It reminds me too much of a herd of cattle chewing cud.

Being too busy making calls to have much time for taking strolls, call center associates walk a mere 6,618 steps each day. It must be nice sitting around all day, kicking back, and calling up people just to annoy them. They should exercise more. Maybe take a hike. I’ll suggest that to the next one that robocalls my number. 

I do my share of walking, but not much stepping out. Not like back in the days when I would boogie out of some Atlanta disco early in the morning after getting down like John Travolta all night. The sun making me blind and running late for work. I’d rush to my pickup, change out of my fancy Italian shoes,  into my muddy work boots, race to work and clock in raring to go. Jumping, fighting, kicking, and showing off fancy footwork all day. I like to think I can still do that, but I have no desire to strut down a road already well-traveled. That fire is out. The ashes are now cold.

I’ve never had to cover any tracks but there are a few steps I’ve taken I wish I could backtrack. I’ve traveled down a couple of paths I suppose I shouldn’t have but, thank the Lord, He showed me the way back. I’ve left my footprints in many places on this planet Earth but right now these dogs are howling. Y’all please excuse me while I take off these cowboy boots.

Steve Reece is a contributing writer for the Reporter and a known crime fighter. Email him at stevereece@gmail.com.