Apr 07

The Penn Station Shuffle

I've just read that one in five American pre-schoolers is obese. That comes as no surprise since Nm_obese_baby_080818_mn
their parents are mostly sedentary and allow the little darlings to vegetate in front of computer screens and stuff their mouths full of fast food and soft drinks.

I actually experience a small part of the obesity epidemic in my everyday commute.

Each day, after my chronically-late 7:28 am NJ Transit train has lurched its way into Penn Station, I fight my way through the hordes of fellow commuters towards the Seventh Avenue exit ramps. And, that's where I witness the Penn Station Shuffle.

As I approach the stairs and escalator, I always make a beeline to the left, because there's always an enormous line on the right. That's where the escalator is. And, that's where sedentary, lazy commuters patiently wait in line to board an escalator that covers the equivalent of perhaps 50 small steps. I always shake my head in bewilderment, wondering why so many obviously harried and frazzled commuters are nonetheless more than willing to wait on long lines just to avoid a little exercise.

Having just toured Scotland and listened to news reports, read newspapers and spoken to countless locals, I can tell you our country's image and reputation is at an all-time low. It's not just the senseless carnage in Iraq or the global credit crunch that many see as being our fault. It's also our self image. Many Scots see Americans as lazy, spoiled and obese. And they like to kid about our nationwide obesity problem.

Obesity isn't a laughing matter, especially when it's becoming an albatross for future generations. But, what hope do our kids have when their role models continue to inhale Big Macs, wash them down with calorie-rich colas and wait on line to do the Penn Station Shuffle?