Archive for Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why are we in such a hurry?

August 6, 2008


Recently it was proposed that highway speed limits be reduced, not just on two-lane rural ones, but all highways. Supposedly, this will save drivers money.

At first, I was a bit flustered that my commute to work would take longer. Who's got the time to drive slower? But then the practical side of me thought about the savings. Could this be true? Any savings on gas at this point is kind of appealing.

So, the next day, I set the cruise at 60 mph and puttered down K-10. There is a noticeable difference in how fast it feels one is going between 70-plus mph and 60 mph. Also noticeable were the cars rapidly coming up behind me, and then passing me. Wait! I'm usually the one doing the passing!

But, I was determined to save some change on gas. So, I relaxed my grip on the steering wheel and sat back in my seat. Then it dawned on me. I actually can see the pretty flowers along the roadside that usually are a blur. And I told myself that I was owning my spot on the road and making the other drivers go around me. Silly, hurried people. They are missing the flowers.

Why are we in such a hurry? We start our day with a rushed cup of coffee. Speed down streets and highways just to creep along in rush-hour traffic. Or, as in some cities, zip along in the express lane. We honk and gesture at those getting in our way (driver's Tourette's, I call it).

At work, we find ways to "save time," take short-cuts just to get the job done faster. No time to rest on our laurels, we have to work harder and move up the ladder faster than the next guy. At lunch, we shovel in our pre-made sandwiches or cafeteria prepared meal - no time to fix a lunch at home, after all. After work, rush hour traffic, more honking and dirty looks.

If we must stop at the grocery store, we can use the self-check lane - it's faster and no one to have to exchange pleasantries with. Then home and, finally, time for leisure. Maybe catch Headline News and get the day's worth of news in 30 minutes. Or the student opens the Cliff's notes to the novel that was assigned three weeks ago. Or log on to the high-speed Internet and sign up for an online dating service. Who has time to meet someone and get to know them?

No time to watch a favorite show? TiVo or DVR it. Too shy to socialize? Log into a chat room. No time to fix a hot, healthy meal? There's fast food, take-out or delivery. Why write a letter and send it by "snail" mail when one can just e-mail that person or, even faster, instant message them. Talking to family and friends is too slow and tedious? Just buy a video game and create a virtual family, even virtual pets.

Telephone operators are obsolete. We now have automated call systems, speed dial and voice-activated commands. ATMs eliminate the need to worry about "banker's hours" or the need to tell someone how much we would like to withdraw. Online shopping eliminates going to stores and dealing with those pesky sales clerks (if you can find one).

Our need for speed has changed our use of language (texting shorthand), has created new terms (instant coffee, speed dating, road rage, power nap), has evolved new medical conditions (stress-related disorders like obesity, high blood pressure, emotional burnout), has affected our relationships (Internet dating, cell phone texting, virtual friends).

By accepting the hurry-up way of life, are we are losing touch with reality, with human interaction, with manners? If someone pulls in front of us, is it OK to honk, flip the bird or cuss? Instead of "please" and "thank you," do we allow crass words and harsh tones? Why do we get defensive and demanding instead of forgiving and compromising? Are good manners and random acts of kindness losing out?

Lowering the speed limit might not save a lot of money, but it might make some of us slow down and enjoy life - and each other.

- Gina Bailey-Carbaugh is a Lawrence resident and a K-10 traveler.


Alia Ahmed 9 years, 4 months ago

Gina,I think you may some great points about slowing down and enjoyng life and each other. But, again, if I had to send this response snail mail, it isn't going to happen. :~)

igby 9 years, 4 months ago

Get a life, job, brain and car that does not have a carb!... your a road hazzard as well.

labmonkey 9 years, 4 months ago

Screw looking at the flowers. I would rather spend that extra 5-10 minutes of my life getting an extra mile in on the treadmill, or spending it with my wife. I shouldn't have that taken away by some idiot doing 5-10 mph under in the left lane.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the feed back.Igby - why such a hater? You most of all need to stop and smell the flowers. =)Logan, you are right in that some speedier ways of communication are good. I certainly was glad to be able to talk live to my son when he was in Iraq, as opposed to waiting weeks or months.Sunshine: spot on about how greed is robbing our society of humanity. Andi - loland, labmonkey- good for you for thinking of spending that extra time with your wife. I absolutely agree about the drivers that camp in the PASSING lane going at or under the speed limit. They are a danger on the roadways. I think there is some legislation in the works about making it illegal.

Kat Christian 9 years, 4 months ago

It's called Corporate take over. We live Corporate lives now. We rush because if we don't get to work on time we can get canned. AND...we all need a job these days because of a thing called GREED. Cost of living sky rocketed when women were forced to work outside the home along with the husbands. Even though 2-3 incomes are now needed to live the American dream, we find a lot of homes where only 1 adult working. Now that we are losing jobs to foreign soil, Jobs in the U.S. are becoming more difficult to find and to keep. There is no loyality as there was 30 years ago. So the bottom line is better rush to get to work on time - beat that traffic. Rush to climb that corporate ladder as it just may give you that much more job security. Rush home to get dinner so the kids can get to bed at an appropriate hour. Then start your day over by rushing even more. My take on this is cutting work week hours to 6 hours day so there will be more time to slow down in traffic, time to fix that family meal and time to just sit around bonding with the family. But alas that GREED gets in the way. Must make, earn, build that cash flow - until we die. At this stage I'll probably work till the day I die. Can't retire these days - cost of living keeps climbing and we have to keep working to keep with it and so on, and so on and so on. The circle of life or GREED I think.

avoice 9 years, 4 months ago

Gina:I've been doing the same thing you're doing, slowing down (but my commute is not on K-10, I'll admit). What I notice most is that the people who follow the same route to Lawrence as me, who pass me somewhere along the way, almost always end up right in front of me at the first stop light as we're coming into town. That used to be me, passing people, using who knows how much gasoline in the effort. And I probably could have looked in the rear-view a few miles down the road and seen, right behind me, the folks I had passed. Makes me feel like I've been a numbskull all these years, driving like that and really getting nowhere. Also, the extra time it takes at 60 mph, for my commute, is 3-5 minutes. Call it a matter of taste, but I'm willing to give up 3 minutes on the treadmill, or even 3 minutes with my family, to save gas - and maybe my life - by driving more slowly.

Confrontation 9 years, 4 months ago

Anyone who is staring at the flowers needs to get off the road. Inattentive driving is dangerous.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Avoice, thanks. I, too, found that I really didn't spend that much more time on the road going 60mph. And, I think, too, that by going slower, surely my reaction time is greater to avoid wrecks. Unless, of course, I'm staring at flowers. =)

twaldaisy 9 years, 4 months ago

Gina I travel K10 to work also. I finally slowed down also and guess what?...My mileage went from 26 mpg to 30 mpg. I also found that if I was upset going to work looking at all of God's beauty is quite relaxing. So now when I see the big SUV's flying by me, I just think it is their gas money not mine and don't worry about the fly bys as I am paying for my gas not them.

twaldaisy 9 years, 4 months ago

Sagecasey that is what the right lane is for, the slower traffic. I don't condone 45-55 mph I do drive at least 68 to 69. But looking up at the clouds or looking at the green trees is not the same as talking on the cell phone or putting on your makeup, etc. Pass me if you feel the need to go over 70 mph, again you are not paying for my gas nor I yours. I will also pass you as you are pulled over getting a ticket.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Tang, wow! I liked him better in Independence Day.

Sagecasey 9 years, 4 months ago

I do agree with the slowing down. I drive K10 to work everyday, but I can't stand those who may have slowed down but are busy "looking at the flowers" or talking on their cell phone instead of paying attention to the traffic around them. At least those who may cuss or flip the bird, although I don't agree with their antics, are paying attention to the road instead of other things.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 4 months ago

You know, Gina, you're absolutely right. And David Lynch has offered a remedy for all those tailgaters who can't find time to slow down and smell the roses...

twaldaisy 9 years, 4 months ago

Also flip the bird to the wrong folks can get you shot nowadays.

Sagecasey 9 years, 4 months ago

Sunshine_noise,"2-3 incomes are now needed to live the American dream" I disagree. The American Dream is what each individual decides to make it, unfortunately, for too many Americans that means "keeping up with the Jones's". My definition of the American Dream is appreciating what I have because I did not grow up with a lot. It is waking up every day and being thankful that I have one more day with those I care about. At times, that may not mean being able to spend time with loved ones, but thinking about them makes my life more enjoyable and turns bad days into good days.

Confrontation 9 years, 4 months ago

Tumbilweed, I apologize that I have a higher level of intelligence than you. It must get really lonely at your level.

average 9 years, 4 months ago

All that horsepower, Marion, just so thirty seconds later you can get stuck behind a Corolla merrily chugging along at the speed limit. Must drive you bonkers.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 4 months ago

Seriously, though, I spent too much of my life trying to extract a few extra minutes from a commute. One day, I decided to just set cruise control at the posted speed limit, and relax. And relax I did. No more "vigilance" required for speed traps; no more attention to managing the problems posed by excessive speed; a more enjoyable if (insignificantly) longer drive. I gladly trade the few minutes "stolen" for all the enhanced minutes bought.And the interesting observation? Given the degree to which traffic is governed by non-speed related factors, invariably, I find the same rabbit-start-tire-screeching, unsafe-passing, brake-jamming jerk awaiting me at the next traffic light, junction, toll booth, destination.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 4 months ago

Confrontation, you seem to have chosen an appropriate blog name. So glad this forum is here for you to vent. Is this your stress reliever? As long as it makes the real world a better place...

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