Not all slowpokes are elderly.
I got a crash course in this little lesson of life in the fast lane after recently venturing into the gridlock of “How to Drive From Hilton Head to Beaufort Without Even Getting Killed.”
It started with my former boss, who vented on Facebook about slowpokes driving in the left lane. Why, if they’d move over, we may not even need to pave more lanes.
Then it came up that a state senator wants to further punish slowpokes by sticking them with a $200 fine.
To which I suggested: “That should get our attention along U.S. 278 in Beaufort County. We’ve got all the ingredients for a left-lane meltdown.
“We’ve got vans full of vacationers roaring in, trying to set new land-speed records for a drive from Ohio to Hilton Head Island with no bathroom stops. We’ve got locals poking along the same street trying to find Best Buy. As a retirement haven, we’ve got the elderly who don’t know what planet they’re on, much less what lane they’re in. As a resort, we’ve probably got a little more than your average number of drunks. And everyone else is staring at their cell phones.”
What I failed to point out is that I, too, don’t know what planet I’m on, much less what lane I’m in.
Just the other day I caught myself at the top of the tall bridge to Hilton Head Island with my right-turn signal on. Which may explain why the guy behind me was trying to give me a push.
Nevertheless, one of your nicer responses was: “You really stepped in it this time! Since I’m one of the lucky ones who still knows ‘what planet I’m on,’ I just wanted to let you know I’m disappointed at what I assume was an attempt at humor — but WAIT: your time will come when you, too, will wonder what planet you’re on!”
And this: “As a senior citizen who, for 25 years, has built the economy and supported your newspaper, I resent that perception and respectfully request that you apologize to the large population of seniors who are quite with it and still support the local economy, which includes your newspaper — even though it doesn’t exactly cover the news of the world.”
‘How would Jesus drive?’
Others sent tips on “How to Drive Around Here”:
“A better article would have been to address the speeders and cell phone users and the lack of police presence. The town of Bluffton could make enough money to cover the salary of a few police officers if they started to catch some of the speeders who also run red lights. Not a day goes by that I don’t see both when I’m out on (U.S.) 278, and never a policeman in sight.
“Many times I come up on a slow-moving car and it is a young woman talking on her cell phone. And I’m seeing more and more people running red lights when I’m out on 278. Can’t be the slowpokes!”
Someone else suggested this:
“A better solution would be to rebuild the bridges to Hilton Head Island and on the island add a third lane from the bridge to the 278 split. Off island, traffic enforcement against the aggressive drivers who constantly change lanes might help the problem.”
Meanwhile, national columnist David Brooks veered into the car vs. car melee that sprawls well beyond our neighborhood.
“How would Jesus drive?” he asked.
He tells us that none other than Pope Francis took his turn at the wheel, saying small gestures like driving courteously have more influence on society than our wigged-out leaders do.
Brooks writes: “Driving means making a thousand small moral decisions: whether to tailgate to push the slowpoke faster, or to give space; whether to honk only as a warning or constantly as your all-purpose show of contempt for humanity.
“Driving puts you in a constant position of asking, Are we in a place where there is a system of self-restraint, or are we in a place where it’s dog eat dog?”
‘I’m in a Hurry’
And in his own way, Brooks concludes:
“In short, driving puts you into social situations in which you have to co-construct a shared culture of civility, and go against your own primeval selfishness, and it does so while you are encased in what is potentially a 4,000-pound metal weapon.”
Which brings us to U.S. 278, the Bluffton Autobahn, or Ribaut Road, with slowpokes in the so-called fast lane.
That’s when we all should take this final driving tip from one our local readers.
“Maybe you should take a listen to the song by Alabama,” the note said:
I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.