The drive back from our two-week sabbatical at the beach helped restore my faith in humanity.
The four-hour hump back from Myrtle Beach can be a pain, especially around Chadbourn – as forlorn a town as I’ve ever driven through. But on this particular day, Sunday, I spent most of my time around folks who share the same highway philosophy.
In that, I mean, they share the road.
Before we continue, I’ll make anyone reading this a promise. If ever I’m in the left (passing) lane and see you approaching in my rear-view, I’ll look for the next opportunity to pull right and let you by.
After all, it only makes sense. I’d rather have you in front of me than hanging on my rear bumper. And if you want to proceed at a speed faster than mine, your wish is my command.
I’m not into vigilantism. Besides, if there’s a highway patrolman up ahead, he’ll see you before he sees me.
Part of it is my lifelong aversion to being in other people’s way. It makes me uptight to think I might be blocking someone else from seeing what they want to see or going where they want to go. With each passing year, I’ve grown to despise big crowds more and more.
So a recurring problem, especially while driving, is to encounter people who obviously don’t have the least bit of problem being in other people’s way. If I didn’t know better, I’d surmise that some even relish it.
If it were only discourteous, boorish or ill-considered, that would be bad enough. But truth is, those who commandeer the left-lane and render it their own personal lane are actually causing far greater risk to all those they encounter on their trip from Point A to Point B.
There’s a good reason some states and municipalities erect highway signs that say “Left Lane for Passing Only.’’
Some are even imposing fines.
The Winston-Salem Journal, in an obvious attempt to lighten its insurance load, once required us all to sit through a session on defensive driving. The first question asked was “What causes wrecks?’’
The answer, to me, was obvious. “Two or more cars winding up at the same place at the same time.’’
“Exactly,’’ the instructor said.
It’s a moment that invariably comes to mind every time I find myself in a logjam on a four-lane road. And when one driver is taking their own sweet time in the left lane, and determined to exercise their constitutional right to which every lane they choose, then it doesn’t even matter if I’m in the left lane or right.
What does matter is that before long there is bound to be four, five, six or even more cars jammed together in close proximity, all piled up on each other with blood pressure spiking. And some of those cars are going to be hell-bent on getting by the logjam, and they’re going to start taking, in the words of Rodney Crowell, those crazy chances.
This is where I confess I’m not the most patient person in the world. And I readily admit I’m guilty of moves on the road, and gestures to my fellow travelers, of which I’m not proud.
But then there are days like Sunday when I’m cruising along with people who show consideration. Except for a couple of notable exceptions, the drivers I encountered recognized how much better – how much more civilized – a drive can be when the left lane remains open to those who wish to proceed at a higher rate of speed.
My best moments on the highway are when I can find that sweet spot – I call it a bubble – when I’m moving along at preferred speed with all other traffic well ahead of me and the rest just dots in the rear view. It can be relaxing even, and again, so civilized.
And it’s then, and only then, that I can groove on all that beautiful scenery our country has to offer.
So if we encounter each other out on the highways and byways, I’m hope it’s a pleasant experience. Just share the road, and I’ll promise it will be.