To Schlep or to Traipse

Nevaby Neva Bodin

“Stand up straight!”
“Walk with a book balanced on your head. Keep your shoulders back!”

“Don’t walk with your head down when walking alone. Look confident.”

These are statements I’ve heard throughout my life, some to help me have good posture, and the latter so I don’t get attacked or assaulted.

I love to study fellow humans. “People watching.” I begin imagining what their story is, or maybe how they would fit in a story I might write.

One of the things I notice about so many young people—teens and young adults—is their posture and way of walking. Shoulders are bent, heads down, sometimes pants propped low enough that they have to do a sort of duck walk to keep them on for some boys. (A young neighbor boy actually lost his pants in the middle of our street while skateboarding). Others walk in a bouncy long-step way. Many girls walk in a swinging side-to-side motion with arms swinging back and forth. I see torsos bent forward and shoulder rounded.

Does the young person with head bent, doing a casual bouncy, or floppy long-step walk exude confidence? Or is he just hopeful he’s looking confident? Or perhaps this person doesn’t realize how he/she is walking as he/she stares at the IPhone? Does the young girl swinging from side to side feel this is a fashionable look, or will she hit both sides of the hall with her hips, clearing the path for those behind, but not coming at her?

Do they realize that we get kyphosis (outward curvature of the spine causing a hunched back) as we get older? And I would guess this can be hastened by prematurely hunching the shoulders before nature does the job. (As in bending over a keyboard as I am now doing.)

Here are some synonyms for walking from hike, jaunt, parade, step, stretch, stroll, tour, airing, carriage, circuit, constitutional, gait, march, pace, perambulation, peregrination, promenade, ramble, saunter, stride, traipse, tramp, tread, turn, schlepp. (Airing? That’s a walk?) And there are more words depending on if you are using walk as a verb or a noun. This is a great site for a writer of course.

I hadn’t heard of peregrination before. It’s a long journey, usually made on foot. And schlep or schlepp, in this instance, means to carry something heavy or difficult or move with effort.

Now when I people watch, I will try to relate their type of walk to one of those descriptive words. And I will have more fodder for my stories.

And perhaps, I will remember to hold my head high as I schlepp the groceries in, traipse to the washing machine with my load, saunter over to the refrigerator, and stroll back to my rocking chair, as I think about doing an airing at a future time.




19 thoughts on “To Schlep or to Traipse

  1. Words are just so much fun! I love schlep, along with a lot of other Yiddish words. They just feel neat on the tongue. You’re a real mensch for writing this post.


    1. Thank you! I had to look up the meaning of “mensch”. I like the sound of Yiddish words too. Love the internet giving us ready access to all the words we want to know about.


  2. Love it! The list of words for walking was interesting – a couple of words were totally new to me. I suppose that when we’re young we don’t think too much about the way we walk – we are invincible, after all. But when we get older and wiser we realize there is a point to paying attention to our movement and posture. Thanks for sharing.


    1. I had to look up a few words too. I think technology, like I-Phones, I-PODS, computers, etc. are going to make hunch backs of more people. And, I was reading the book “Being Mortal” by Atul, Gawande, which was recommended to me by a doctor and one of my nurse aide students, and, quoting a gerontologist, kyphosis crowds the esophagus and make it hard to swallow if you try to straighten the person’s neck back up. (Have to get a medical fact in there I guess.) Thanks for comments.


  3. Perfect. I still remember those words of hold head hight, etc. Sometimes we get caught in a loop of word usage. Your post is a reminder of a whole world still to be explored, just like trying to figure people out. Thanks. Doris


    1. Love words and there definitely a lot of them I can still discover. Love reading old newspaper accounts of deaths, murders, and other events, they were so descriptive and used such neat words. Remember being told to imagine a string pulling your head up? I thought that a good image to keep me walking with good posture. Thanks.


  4. I don’t think young ones can see much beyond their 20s. They got to get past a couple of decades before they even think of doing what’s necessary to keep their bodies in good shape for middle and old age. I know I didn’t back when a late teen, even into early 20s. Had I, I might not have osteoporosis.


    1. Not sure the emphasis is placed on some things as in days past, and even so, as you say, some things don’t seem important when young. Osteoporosis can be hard to escape, and comes to many, no matter if they might not have done something to encourage it besides just getting older. Hope you are able to manage yours without too much trouble.


  5. I got onto my granddaughter about her posture, then I found a photo of me when I was around 15, arms drawn in, shoulders rounded. Oh my. I was aware of my posture before then, and after then (at some point), but not during that time. LOL I loved all the words about walking. I am going to the site to check it out. Loved the post. Thanks Cher’ley


  6. Thanks Cher’ley. For some reason I always noticed posture, even when young. I took the words to heart I guess. My best friend in grade school, a neighbor boy, always walked so straight and upright and was such a good guy, he inspired me. I thought the list of words fun to read too and it increased my vocabulary!

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  7. Love how each of the words brings up a different picture. When I was a kid, my mom had me take modeling classes in attempt to counter my clumsiness (which was partially caused by needing glasses). So I became very aware of correct posture. Of course my peers couldn’t have cared less. As I’ve gotten older, various physical issues have made me notice how others move. Sometimes I see some really strange gaits and wonder what in the world could cause them. Have to see if any of the synonyms apply.
    Fun post.


    1. Thanks Kate. I too am fascinated by the different gaits I see people use. And I always wonder where they came from. Here in Wyoming, I always wonder if the bowlegs come from horse back riding. I met a young lady who was a bull rider once–she walked as if every bone was loosely connected, which I think it was! She’d had a few tumbles by then. I’m not sure what word would have described her gait.


  8. “Keep your shoulders back!” I heard that a lot because my shoulders aren’t made for staying back. It takes effort. One of my grandfathers was built like a scarecrow, couldn’t have slumped if he’d tried, but I didn’t inherit his skeleton, more’s the pity. Are girls today taught how to sit and stand? I got the lesson on sitting upright, feet together, hands in lap, “like a lady.” Unobserved, of course, I reverted to hunching over a book and now a monitor. The memory of a neighbor who had kyphosis as serious as that you describe gets me up and stretching, though, and taking walks. I mostly traipse, I think. Tonight I may take an airing. If I have the energy, I might promenade. Right now I’m going to schlepp a sign-in sheet and some flyers to my Sisters in Crime meeting. Thanks for making the rest of my day so much more interesting than it would have been if I’d just walked.


    1. You are welcome and thanks for getting into the spirit of the thing! I hope you are able to promenade tonight, it sounds more “up” then sauntering or traipsing to me. Your reply made me chuckle.


  9. I’ve used “saunter” and “stroll” several times in my writing as a different word for “walking” — and I appreciate the list you provided, Neva. Yes, the baggies on the kids these days make me shake my head, but I remember my parents shaking their heads at the fashion of my younger days, too. Each generation finds the other a mystery, it seems. Thanks for a great post!


  10. I so remember those days of Mom telling us to sit up straight. I can relate to the parents of those kids with their pants hanging half off. My daughter went through a phase in high school when she wore my husbands pants. He wasn’t thrilled with her fashion choice. I thought at least she wasn’t wearing really short skirts or really low cut tops. Of course she moved on to better fashion choices as she matured.


  11. I was in ballet most of my younger years through end of high school so always was conscious of having erect posture. It’s funny because most people think of ballerinas as having a “duck walk” and someone even said something like that to me when they found out I was in ballet. “But you don’t walk like a duck!” I thought that was the funniest thing ever. I love the word choices for “walk” and plan to use some in my writing. Thanks for the informative and fun post, Neva.


  12. You’ve got a great point there, Neva. I do think there will be issues in later years from the head bending technique of texting and hunching over a computer desk. The slide slip forward that many young lads do can’t be great in the long term for the calf muscles. The constant wearing of hoodies as partial fashion cover ups doesn’t seem too great either – I think they’re another reason for an unnatural lift of the shoulders to keep them in place.


  13. I can imagine having to schlep for a long journey as my Native ancestors did. Times sure have changed and schlepping a long journey is no longer necessary. I am grateful today for how things are when it comes to this. This post has brought appreciation to my life and I want to thank you for that.
    Good job!


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