Alan Schofield sometimes gets blisters on his feet, while walking the four miles from his Hillsboro home to Dollar General each week, but he doesn’t care.
“I’m saving a lot on gas,” the 68-year-old man said. “I used to own a Ford Explorer. Man, that thing could eat up gas like nobody’s business. I would end up using a $100 bill in no time flat.”
Schofield started walking to get his groceries two months ago when he realized he would need to reduce his budget in order to make his mortgage payments. He said, to date, he has saved more than $500 — just by walking.
“I’m no spring chicken,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have pep in my step. I can still walk a good distance, even more than some of the young whipper-snappers out there.”
Dressed in Kansas State University purple garb from head to toe, Schofield said he usually isn’t afraid of people running him over.
“The purple is bright and parts of this jack reflect pretty good in the sun,” he said. “If that doesn’t do the trick, all the K-State flags and banners on my metal wagon do the trick. It makes them sit up and take notice, which they should anyway because they are the best basketball team in the world.”
He received the wagon from a friend three days after he determined to start walking. He said it was plain when he started, but he “decked it out” in only a short amount of time.
“I want to give homage to a great school and my alma mater,” he said. “My grandkids are going there now and they bring stuff to put on it every once in a while.”
Many, like Judith Carson, 45, of Emporia, honk their car horns when they see Schofield.
“He always has a smile on his face,” she said. “I’ve talked with him once or twice. He seems like a great guy who has some pretty thrifty ideas. I give him kudos for that. I know I couldn’t walk eight miles in a day.”
Schofield said he never thought the day would come when he would choose to walk to the grocery store.
“I hated to walk as a kid,” he said. “I would groan about going to school, but it was good exercise — about two miles each way. Now, I rather enjoy it. I get to hear the birds singing in the trees and talk to all my neighbors along the way. Nothing puts a smile on your face like sunshine and good people around you.”
Schofield said he usually starts walking at about 11 a.m., just to ensure that he has enough time to walk before the sun goes down.
“The sun is high in the sky and it feels good on my bones,” he said.
He said he walks leisurely, admitting it takes him a little more than two hours to make the jaunt. Every once in a while, Schofield said he will also pick up cans and bottles along the road for redemption.
“I like to think I’m doing the town a service by picking ‘em all up off the ground,” he said. “They make the place look trashy.”
Schofield said there is usually enough room in his cart for the few bottles he finds — and doesn’t see a good reason why he should stop.
“Sometimes I’ll pick up a beer bottle and if some college kid is haggling with me I’ll just pretend I’m drunk,” he said.
“It doesn’t take much. There’s usually a couple drops left in the bottle and I can fake it real good. I pretend that I am on a rollercoaster and am about get sick. Nine out of 10, they usually get scared and drive away as fast as they can.”
Schofield said he currently has 12 trash bags filled in his garage and is looking forward to the money he will get once they’re redeemed.
“I think I’ll buy myself a new pair of sturdy walking shoes,” he said. “These look tuckered out. The sole is even starting to come off.”
Schofield usually leaves his cart parked on the sidewalk outside the store and then goes in to do his shopping. Sometimes, he said, he buys more than others — it depends on what he needs.
“I usually try to stack up on canned meat and macaroni and cheese,” he said. “They are my staples. Sure I’ll get some vegetables every now and again but I would die if I didn’t have my mac-and-cheese. It makes life worth living.”
Schofield said he is looking forward to the upcoming summer months, when he’ll be able to walk without too much concern over the weather.
“It was hard during the winter,” he said. “I had to plan my schedule around there being no snow in the forecast. But, now that it’s so warm out, I don’t have to worry about it so much.”