Notes From My Knapsack 6-9-16
Different pace, different drummer?
So I spent a big hunk of last month getting honked at.
Not in a good way.
To explain, I have to go back to the end of April. I was coming back into the village, heading west down the hill on Newark-Granville Road, slowing to pass the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses where not infrequently a Granville police cruiser is sitting, passing the time as it were.
So I know where I was, as the hill leveled off, and I know my speed, because I checked, having made an involuntary contribution to village coffers at that spot a few years ago. I was over the speed limit by a good five miles per hour . . . and was passed, at a fair clip, by a vehicle whipping around to my left and zooming on ahead past Welsh Hills School (20 mph when children are present).
Of course, there was no cruiser present that day. I shook my head at the blazing impatience of the passing car, already long ahead of me, and kept on my way. At the Cherry Valley Road intersection, a found myself behind my high-speed acquaintance, who was stuck as we often are behind someone trying to turn left, waiting in the face of a stream of oncoming traffic. Such is life.
When we all were released, the parade rolled at a more stately pace into Granville proper, and we both veered off at College St. at the foot of Mount Parnassus, and I couldn't resist. The distinctive vehicle in front of me didn't have much farther to go, and turned into a driveway. I pulled in immediately behind, and pulled out a pen and paper and started writing down the license plate number.
The driver got out, glanced back quizzically at me, then walked to my window, pointing at my pen and paper. I rolled it down, and said as cheerfully as I could "You know, passing inside village limits, on a double line, at 50 mph or more, just strikes me as a bad idea." The intrepid motorist looked on aghast as I reversed, backed into the street, and went on my way. I can only hope for some anxious thoughts over the next few hours or so, since I threw the note away not long after, doubting that such a citizen's report would do either of us any good: I was going for the look of horror, and got it, and hope the lesson was useful.
It was to me. It got me thinking about impatience, and impetuousness, and speed, and I tried an experiment. I spent the next thirty days doing my level best to drive the posted speed limit wherever I went.
Yes, that's right: 54 or 55 on the expressway so-called, and only 70 or even 69 when going on west along our new superhighway. There, I just got odd stares from people passing me, which pretty much everyone but farm equipment did.
It was in Granville and Newark I got the honking. And lots of it. If you stop thinking about the infamous "10 mph cushion" that even driver's ed teachers tell us about, and actually follow the driving instructions as posted, you are stuck trying to keep up with changes (25, 35, 45 mph within a single mile sometimes), and I for one was struck by the fact that I was either always having cars – or trucks, oh those pickup trucks – right up against my rear bumper, or passing me wherever they could and even when they really, reasonably could not. But they did anyhow.
What's the message here? Well, on one hand, I think there's a saturation point on speed limit guidance that's going to take some study and attention. Too much monkeying around just makes people ignore what's posted, so there's that. The counterpart question is simply: what's the hurry? Really, why are so many so quick to leap around at turns on intersections, pushing and flashing along residential streets, and honking at cars going the speed limit?
In any case, my thought to Granville and environs: ease up. Slow down, even. Take it easy. And no, I'm not sticking to the speed limits anymore, but I'm not zooming past them as quickly, either.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's usually in a hurry, but tries not to rush whenever he can. Tell him your high-speed troubles at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.