The eye of the storm. That’s where I was for decade upon decade. Life was seemingly calm, but in reality I was surrounded by thunder and lightning and high winds and debris, all ready to take me down unexpectedly at any moment. I was a moving target. The butt of sick jokes and harassment. The subject on everyone’s lips. Running running, running. And trying to hide from prying eyes.
That’s all over now. I’ve found peace, and silence. But the real world is never far enough away.
My cocoon is the retirement community I recently moved to. It’s located off a busy state highway. I’m way up in the back, away from it all, with a farm behind me and wildlife trotting and winging through my yard. Yet I only have to leave the premises in order to get a quick reminder that the uncivilized world awaits, and that the inhabitants are in a tremendous rush to go absolutely nowhere. Well, world, I will not be rushed by you anymore. I’ve earned my slow stripes. Please, pass me by as fast as you wish, and go along your silly, speedy ways. Put away your middle fingers, switch your low beams back on, and just GO.
My feelings about humanity’s need for speed is well documented, no big secret. What I don’t quite get, and never will, is what the gain is, and why people have to jeopardize the safety of others in order to satisfy their own stupidity.
Case in point: I left the retirement community the other day, and within thirty seconds, even though I looked both ways before I pulled out, I had a speeding white car on my back bumper. This, in total disregard of the fact that the speed limit falls ten digits where I pull onto the state highway, and it goes from a two lane divided raceway to a one lane regular road. A messy road construction job with barrels and lane shifts is right up ahead, with a greatly reduced speed limit. No way I’m driving through that too fast. Mr. White Car had no such qualms. On a solid line, he blew past me effortlessly and ploughed through the road construction without applying the brakes once.
Not far up the road and I’m minding my business driving forty-five in a forty-five. Someone cuts me off from a side road and proceeds to drive thirty-five. Before I’m driving for ten minutes I’ve been cut off three more times. But here’s the kicker: Mr. White Car Wanna Be Race Care Driver? Mr. Tailgater? I end up right behind him at the next stop light. What has he gained? Answer: nothing. Except for endangering his life and those around him.
Don’t rush me.
Next, I pull up to the ATM and start getting my card out of my wallet. I’m ready to open my car door and step up to the machine when a man pulls into the lot next to me, jumps out of his car, and strides toward the glass door ahead of me. Too bad for him that he has to fumble through his wallet to open the damn thing because in his rush to beat me to the money he didn’t have his card ready. Is it terrible for me to wish that he’s one of those people who has no money to take out in the first place, and that he will stomp out saying that the machine is “broken?”
And hey, what ever happened to “ladies first?”
My favorite is when someone is blinding me with their headlights only to pull into Dunkin Donuts and into a snaking line in the drive through. (And no one is inside!) Enjoy your coffee, dummy.
It’s not all about the way we drive. There are the shoppers in the supermarket sighing because I don’t put my food on the belt fast enough, or swipe my debit card skillfully enough, or move my cart out of the aisle exactly when they want me to. They start getting testy, I start making eye contact. And I am the queen of eye contact. I’m a teacher by trade. I can stare anyone down. Don’t tempt me.
Or rush me.
Believe it or not folks, not everyone feels the need to save thirty seconds to get to a stop light before someone else. Listen to John Lennon’s song “Watching the Wheels.” If a Beatle can stop playing the game, can’t just about anyone?
The bigger picture is that so many of us have stopped being polite, have stopped caring about anyone but number one, have stopped caring about much of anything, including safety and common sense and life.
No wonder I like my little retirement community so much. I’m thankful to have an escape from the nonsense.
And remember, if we ever meet, you can do anything as quickly as you want, but DON’T RUSH ME.