OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Winter shoes on, a pair of gloves, and a hat.
That’s about the limit of Otis Richardson’s allowance for January weather.
“It’s my hobby,” he says. “Part of who I am.”
He leaves his house at around 8 o’clock on weekday mornings, beginning a five-mile walk in winter that stretches to seven miles in the summer, rain or shine.
“As long as I get my ten thousand steps in,” he says. “I just keep going.”
Otis took early retirement from his warehouse job at the age of 62.
He was worried about sitting around too much though.
“I said I don’t want to be tired and sick all the time,” he explains.
Richardson is remarkably consistent which is why so many commuters along Wilshire Blvd. between Santa Fe and Eastern Avenues have developed a passing relationship.
“I recognize folks in cars,” he says. “They wave at me and blow their horns.”
Otis waves to cars he recognizes and carries a tape wrapped stick in the other, a guard against the only hostility he’s ever encountered on his daily journeys.
A bad dog bite a few years back forced him to take more time off that he would have liked.
Otis recalls, “One day some police officers stopped me ’cause they saw my stick. They didn’t understand. They thought it was a weapon. I said, ‘naw. it’s not a weapon.”
With his music playing, and in better weather, time really does go by quickly.
“Sometimes I get to walking and I don’t realize how far I’ve gone. I say, ‘man. I’ve gone this far?”
We walked together for a little while dodging cars and trading stories.
But we were sure not to take up too much time.
Otis likes to get back to the house for his favorite show.
“The Price is Right. That’s my favorite,” he says.
Placing value on the truest of essentials is something Otis has been good at for quite a while now.
He explains, “Some scientists said that if you walk five days a week you’re adding seven years onto your life. I’ll take that now.”
“Yeah,” agrees his guest. “You might already be into the bonus.
“Yeah,” he laughs.
Richardson will be 75 years old in 2019 and has no plans to quit.