I’m not sure how or when Leigh and I met through blog-land in the last year and, quite frankly, it doesn’t even matter to me now. I don’t remember life before Leigh and can’t imagine life without her now.
One thing I especially love about Leigh is her smart humor. She is hysterical! (You must read her account of our first in-person conversation. It will be no surprise to you at all that we are friends.) Additionally, she has a real peaceful spirit, which I also love because mine is more…como se dice…frenetic? Neurotic?
You know, kinda like you and me.
You’ve seen her before, and you’ll see her again. Ladies and gentlemen, my friend Leigh.
* * * * * * * * * *
I am, shall we say, an aggressive driver.
My parents are steady, go-the-speed-limit drivers but I have been influenced by Chicago and its suburbs. If you’ve ever driven there, you know it can be heaven or hell.
When the light turns green, you go as fast as you can because you don’t know how long it’ll last. Not making that light could extend your commute by many, many minutes, which will be good for no one. There are too many factors that go into the zaniness of Chicago traffic- short lights, accidents, semi trucks purposely going under the speed limit to piss people off- but this maxim endures: to survive, you must go, go, go.
If you’re on the highway, you of course stay an appropriate distance behind the car in front of you. The only time this will change is if you’re feeling particularly kind-hearted when the car next to you suddenly needs to get into your lane. I typically allow this because I want good driving karma to continue. You never know when you’re going to need to cut across 3 lanes of traffic to get to your exit. But if you have your turn signal on and don’t quickly take the opportunity I’m giving you, then tough luck. We must all keep up with the flow or the next traffic jam could be our fault.
No one wants to be blamed for a traffic jam. Unless you are the type of person who enjoys having a highway full of people cursing your name.
Thankfully, this has never happened to me.
Let me be clear. I’m not that jerk cutting people off left and right and going 100 mph. Nosirree. I once heard that cops won’t pull you over if you’re going 7 mph over the speed limit. This has been my guide, though really it’s more like 5 over to be on the safe side. That is, if I’m going above the speed limit at all. Which, to keep up with the flow of traffic, sometimes you need to do.
I’m just saying.
While I confess there were some college trips back and forth on I-88 that were magically short, I no longer feel comfortable driving at such fast speeds. I want to quickly get where I’m going but I prefer to arrive in one piece.
It’s been a good driving existence, to say the least. And then I moved to Nashville where it appears the population is significantly less vehicularly aggressive.
On any given day, on any given route, the cars surrounding me go 5 to 10 under the speed limit. Under.the.speed.limit. Other than when the White Sox play (and hopefully beat) the Cubs, few things raise my blood pressure faster than an uncommonly slow driver. I’m not asking them to go as fast as me. I am asking that they at least go the speed limit. Crazy, right?
Then there’s the space between vehicles. It would not be an exaggeration to say that most drivers keep 3 football fields between them and the next car, and yes, they’re going under the speed limit. This is when my sanity begins to fray. For the love of God, why, I want to not so gently ask them. Are you comfortable being the reason why traffic is backed up 5 miles?
It gets worse. Let’s say we’re at a stoplight in the turn lane. The light turns green. One would assume that meant go. Instead, the cars will amble through the intersection with the grace and speed of a synchronized swimmer. I cannot admire the beauty of this move. I’m too busy yelling because now the green arrow is gone and I’m still stuck at the light. A turtle walks faster than Tenneseans turning left.
Don’t even get me started on precipitation. If a rain drop appears, drivers instantly slow down. And if it snows, you might as well forget about getting home. My 7 minute commute turned into 50 minutes over 2 lousy inches of snow. The kind of snow Chicagoans laugh at will shut down the city here. Streets turn into parking lots as Tennesseans question the fate of mankind and I question their ability to operate heavy equipment.
Maybe I’m being harsh, but my fellow Midwestern transplants agree with me. Cars move slower in the South. I love living here so perhaps one day I’ll enjoy this different pace.
In the meantime, I will dream of one day owning Inspector Gadget’s car, which will allow me to move your slow arse out of the way.
In May 2010 Leigh intentionally uprooted her life in the Chicago suburbs by moving to Nashville in an effort to live more dependently on God. Formerly a pediatric social worker, she writes about life in the South, what God has been teaching her, and her ongoing quest for the perfect fried pickle. Rest assured, Leigh has no self-control problems when it comes to fried pickles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @HopefulLeigh and her blog: http://www.leighkramer.com/