Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The American Craze for Speed

Is there a strange twist in the American psyche that requires some people to automatically go into hurry mode as soon as they get in their car? There must be such because anyone who drives will very often see this speed craze in action.

Recently I saw a good example of this. I was heading out the expressway, driving a couple of miles over the 60 MPH speed limit. I was certainly not in a hurry as I had lots of time to get to my destination. Right behind me was a lady in a big SUV. She hung right on my bumper for at least a half mile. Then as we were within 100 yards of the next off ramp, she speeded up, blasted around me, suddenly cut back in front and slowed so she could take the off ramp. “Stupid, idiot!” I thought “There is not another car behind us for several hundred yards. Since you had to slow down for the off ramp, why didn’t you just stay behind me?”

Since I was getting off the same ramp, I ended up at the stoplight right behind her. She had used extra gas, made a rather dangerous maneuver, and had gained maybe 10 feet on me, but was now zero seconds ahead of me. Didn’t seem like a smart move. But I decided I would give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was going to the Hospital, or to a Doctor’s office, and this was an emergency. But no, she was headed for Walmart. I followed her into the parking lot, thinking that maybe she was rushing in to have a prescription filled for her sick children. Wrong again! She finished her cell phone call, and leisurely strolled into the store. She seemed to have followed some ingrained rule. She wasn’t really in a hurry, but she was in her car, therefore she had to drive fast. I was in front of her. Therefore, she had to speed up and pass me.

There must be something in the genes, the water or the climate that makes people drive stupid. I see it every day, as drivers speed down congested city streets, zip through school zones without slowing, and run red lights, just trying to save a few seconds.

I would hate to think that my life was so disorganized that arriving somewhere 20 seconds later was going to ruin my whole day.


Glenda (Writerlady) said...

The entire country is in a hurry.I'm afraid I've become just as rushed as everyone else. I've been home sick with a cold for a couple of days and realized that I'm happy not to be out on the road hurrying to get somewhere by a certain time. My husband says I need to slow down, but time is flying so fast!

JLC said...

Greetings! SO nice to know there's another curmudgeon out there, even if I'm not in his NCWN district. I wonder, though, if there isn't a connection between the caps and speed that has little to do with much more than proving who you are in your own mind's eye. Sounds like pop psychology, but somehow I can't help thinking that these show-offs feel a subconscious need to prove a point--whatever that may be. I could (but won't) go on.