Originally created 02/20/03

Forget the rat race; see how slow you can go



Brothers and sisters, I stand before you today to humbly beg your help in a valiant effort, a noble experiment. Gather around and join hands as I beseech your assistance.

I want you to help me do something unusual.

I want you to do something unnatural.

I want you to drive 55.

No, don't walk away, friends and neighbors. Stop, come back, pick up your newspaper again and hear me out.

Here is all I ask of you: If for only a few days, drive at the speed limit on the interstate. If the signs call for 65 mph or 70 mph, then, indeed, satisfy your urges. When you reach the stretches of highway near town, though, or those being repaired, then join me in the slow lane going no faster than the double nickel.

I know what you are saying: "I can't drive 55."

Nonsense. I know you can do it. I have faith in you. All you have to do is try. Just lift that right foot a little. A little more. Keep raising it until you slow down into legal territory.

It might not feel normal at first, but in your heart you will know it is right. If your foot grows heavy and you find yourself backsliding, remember that this is a crusade you have undertaken. Do the right thing.

The idea came to me the other night as I drove through a construction zone on the interstate. I was going 55, as the signs instructed me. All is well, I thought.

Soon, though, I was running an obstacle course of overturned orange barrels that had been knocked into the lanes. The reflective orange was not visible because the barrels were turned away from me. I zigzagged and barely escaped alive. Had I been speeding, I would not have seen them in time.

At that instant, on that dark highway, I saw the light. I knew I was being called to bring this message to you: Obey the speed limit.

Since then, I have tried to follow that rule. I won't lie to you, my friends: It has been scary. The motorists around me don't understand why I would want to drive so slowly, and they want to destroy me.

My car is like a wounded antelope instead of one of the herd. Others are overtaking me, threatening to overrun me.

Even in the slow lane, I am a target. Behind me, the traffic is riding my bumper, no doubt wondering why I don't drive on a dirt road somewhere. Even traffic that is entering from the on ramp is going faster than 55 mph. I don't have to move over to the passing lane to let traffic merge - a dangerous move, anyway - because the merging traffic already has passed me by.

During this period of enlightenment, I calculated that it took me 21 or 22 minutes to get to work instead of the 20 minutes it took me on the days I kept up with - or tried to keep up with - the flow of traffic. Driving the limit instead of above it, I didn't have to worry about speeding tickets, and I got better gas mileage - a serious factor these days.

That is why I urge you, my fellow drivers, to get behind me, both in support and in traffic. See how uplifting it can be to keep the speedometer on 55 when those about you are behaving like fools. You might even avoid one of those barrels or even a construction worker.

Now is the time to step forward, brothers and sisters. If enough of you join me, we could start a movement. A slow movement, to be sure, but a movement just the same.

Perhaps I will see you in the slow lane.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or gmoore@augustachronicle.com.