It was disheartening to watch the miles I'd just covered roll by the bus window. Knowing that I'd be back at Chestnut and Washington the next morning didn't help.
Still, heading back to Boston even at this late hour was smarter than posting up under a bush in Walpole. I made the connection at Forest Hills and made my way back to my old apartment in Brighton. I'd called earlier to confirm a hot shower and a dark room with a couch awaited me. Six hours later I made the commute in reverse back to the intersection of Chestnut and Washington.
I was greeted by Grace who works part time at Tre Jolie, which happens to be at the corner of Washington and Chestnut in Walpole. She cheerfully invited me into the shop to repair my feet. I politely declined, knowing foot powder and boutique clothing and jewelry don't generally go well together. Once I'd put my shoes on and layered up with sunscreen, I checked out the shop and chatted a bit with Grace, she was more than willing to discuss the state of things on "Main St."
She owns her own business "Brain Max" and works at the shop to make ends meet. We talked for a bit about her service as an education analyst, she noted that more people are looking for strategies that they can work with on their own rather than coming to her for answers. Having worked with folks from several populations, I found it noteworthy she mentioned that as a service, in the eight weeks she'd been open, folks were seeking her out rather than her having to hunt for clients. We talked a bit more, yarning for a minute or two, and she directed me up the street to another business owner at Ever So Humble Pie.
I stopped in to talk shop with this brave business owner who'd been blasted by the media for declining EBT. Andrea was swamped, oven alarms going off, phones ringing. She still took the time to give me her thoughts.
"I deal in commodities, flour, sugar, oil, and prices are only going one way, up... Which means, if I want to keep prices the same, my profit margin is shrinking... with the tax spike going in January unless something changes in Washington." I could see that Andrea was busy so I beat feet, accidentally leaving the scone she'd given me on the counter.
Time to start walking again.
Even if though I did leave the Pina Colada scone she gave me on the counter, I got food for thought to chew on as well. Andrea doesn't ship her pies, as freezing would degrade the quality. So what does a business owner like Andrea do? Does Ever so Humble Pies raise their prices? Does she pay her employees less? With so much going into a small business like a bakery, where does the owner find time for the hyper local marketing necessary for expanding, or even maintaining her business?
It's a tough compromise, she would have to pay another employee at least part time to maintain a website, and hope that they have some skills in the kitchen so that she could give them a living wage. I would encourage folks in the Walpole/ Norwood area to check out Ever so Humble Pies, and if you dig what Andrea does, make a point to get some tasty treats there every once in a while. The only solution I can think of is getting keisters through the door to pick up pies. So? Munch on my friends!
After passing through Walpole I made the mistake of hopping over to Rt. 1. It was nine or so miles of pure hell. I made the Plaineville border and called my host for the night and lead singer of The Few, Jaime MacKenzie. She pulled up behind me on Rt. 1 honking and all smiles. I was hobbling along at a pathetic two miles per hour when I plopped into the car and drained the bottle of water she handed me.
My feet were throbbing and I was limping badly, I hadn't had a chance to check my feet since five miles ago, and who knows what the walk through Foxboro did to them. After hitting the store for some bandages, we made tracks back to her place and I got the grand tour of the Fewdio closing out the evening by eating a magnificent feast of spaghetti and meatballs. Feet cleaned and redressed, I fell asleep to the strains of The Few jamming out downstairs, thankful that I have such wonderful people in my life.
The next morning Jaime dropped me off at the Plaineville border, with a hug best wishes. I was thinking I hope she kicks ass today and sells a lot of cars so they can finish refurbishing the basement. I sat down, munched a Cliff Bar and plotted my route for the day. I was mentally kicking myself for sticking to Rt. 1 but it seemed like the best straight shot to Providence. If I could shave a couple miles off, I'd be at my Providence stop early and it'd give me a couple extra hours off my feet.
I stretched, shouldered my pack and headed South. I knew I was in trouble when I made my first stop only two miles in. I parked it next to a bakery outlet store, ignoring stares when I took off my socks and started poking at the heel of my foot. It reminded me of the landscaping truck that kept passing me in Norwood the day before. Every time I stopped and he was driving by he'd slow down and ask if I was okay.
Even a half mile over on 1, there was no such consideration from folks zipping in and out of the strip mall even at this early hour. I checked my GPS, seeing that I only had another eight miles on this run. I'd hoped to hit College Hill in Providence before the day was out. Taking a longer look at my feet, my enthusiasm for the prospect of making the Hill flagged.
Gently re-wrapping my feet, I limped on in the Southerly direction, tucking my pants into my socks and walking on the verge. I made another two miles when I felt a sharp pain in my right foot. Shit, shit shit shit. I hobbled across the highway, seeing a gap in the traffic, and hustled the quarter mile to a shady spot between a Motel 8 and a motorcycle repair shop.
I stripped off my socks and the dressings on my feet and winced, both socks were bloodied, having soaked through the dressing. I turned off the screaming child in my head and pulled out my medical kit. Nobody was in the vicinity to hear me whimpering as I poured the iodine over my foot. I quickly cleaned and dressed the wound taking care to make sure nothing extra made it into the bandages.
Without hesitation I called my host in Providence, and had her come and pick me up.
I'm going to be out for days.
Three days of convalescence, and a visit to the new Greenside Up Gallery in Providence later, and I'm back on the road in the morning.