We’ve been cruising along on the interstate, within the commonly understood “you won’t get a ticket if you only go nine miles over the posted” speed limit. Then we see them—brake lights piling up in the not-too-distant distance. As we catch up and slow down, we see the problem.
It’s not an accident. We could get frustrated with an accident because it’s putting us behind schedule, but we feel badly getting angry because it could be us in the accident. It could be us for whom the flashing lights and wailing sirens toll (apologies to John Donne and his bell).
It’s not roadwork. There have been no large, fluorescent orange signs letting us know the speed is reduced for the next six miles, or that fines are doubled when workers are present. Again, frustration, but not righteous indignation. They are not repaving the roads to make us late for our soccer tournament.
It’s not a posted fog area, or someone in the median with car trouble, or someone pulled over by a State Trooper. Interesting how, if someone else is pulled over, it’s oddly entertaining. If we are pulled over, it’s a sickening injustice. But today, it’s not someone pulled over by the guys in the cool Smokey the Bear hats.
It’s a tractor trailer in the left lane trying to pass a tractor trailer in the right lane—and not quite having the zippidy-do-dah to get past. Or maybe the driver is just doing it to make a statement: “I hate my life and I’m going to share it with the rest of you”—a sort of passive aggressive thing.
Maybe it’s just a car or SUV… cruising along at the exact posted speed limit sort of citizen’s arresting the rest of us would-be lawbreakers in the name of justice. Actually, police, “county mounties,” and state troopers can have this effect even in the right lane—going the speed limit and double-Deputy-Dog-daring us to pass.
Maybe it’s a ten-year old luxury car with 15,000 miles on the odometer and seemingly no driver. Only as we finally pass the vehicle and glance over to give the requisite glare, do we realize it’s a little old fellow so short that he has to sit on a pillow to see under the steering wheel he’s vice-gripping as though he’s hanging on for dear life.
He’s “slower traffic,” but doesn’t mean to be.
Slower traffic. The ones who hold us up. The ones who may or may not be going anywhere. May or may not have anything to look forward to. They may or may not have places to go and people to see. Mad?… sad?… scared?… jaded?… wounded?… bewildered?
Slower traffic. They may be at work. Some folks just take longer to get it done—whatever “it” is. Maybe they are in the grocery aisle trying to read a label, or at the checkout counter with coupons to make the paltry paycheck check stretch till the end of the month.
Some slowbies (I think I just made up a word) may be in the classroom. They just don’t catch on as quickly as the other students. Maybe it’s a medical thing. Maybe it’s a home life thing. Maybe it’s a nutritional thing. Maybe it’s a lack of discipline thing. Maybe they are a science kid in an artsie class—i.e., a way-we-are-wired thing.
Whatever the specifics…
Slower Traffic, it never hurts to keep right. It’s a courtesy.
And, Faster Traffic, it never hurts to think about why the other car might have trouble keeping up.