Saturday, September 3, 2016

School Buses on the Freeway

Which is more dangerous: going too fast or going too slow on the freeway? Some would argue one side, and some the other. This question keeps popping into my mind as I drive to work each morning. 

I live about 20 minutes away from work and most of the time I travel on the freeway. The speed limit is 65 almost the whole way. On any given morning, people zip by and dodge in and out of traffic as if the freeway was their personal slalom course. That is certainly dangerous, and frankly, quite selfish.

Then there are those who go significantly slower than the speed limit. The worst culprits are school buses. I’ve noticed time and again that the slower vehicles appear to have a bigger impact on the overall traffic because those attempting to drive the speed limit have to dodge these rolling barricades, or they simply slow down causing everyone behind them to go slower as well.

Most of the time, the majority of the people on freeways are doing close to the speed limit. When everyone does about the same speed, traffic flows more smoothly. It’s a beautiful thing.

Does that mean that buses should go faster? Not necessarily. There are other roads aside freeways to get from point A to point B.

There are those that may complain that by having everyone do the speed limit eliminates individual freedoms. I disagree.

There are many different types of vehicles on the road—most of the time, people choose what they want to drive. When I’m traveling, I can listen to whatever music I choose—heck, I even get to choose what kind of clothes I wear while driving. I have a vast amount of freedom.

This overall concept has other applications. There are rules, laws, and generally understood accepted social practices. Some people don’t agree with these ideals and therefore do whatever they want (speeders). Then there are those (slower drivers) who by inaction or stubbornness impact the freedom of others who are trying to live by following the rules.

Recently, I went to a Subway sandwich shop. The woman ahead of me insisted on picking out each individual item on her sandwich. This isn’t to say she was clarifying which vegetables she wanted. She actually had the sandwich maker show her several tomato slices and then picked which three she wanted. She did this with all of the items.

The line behind her was starting to build. The sandwich maker, to his credit, hurried when he could. The lady’s response? She told him, “Stop rushing me!”

He responded very nicely, “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to rush you. I’m simply asking you questions on what you would like.”

She became very upset. She demanded to speak to the manager. She wanted the phone number to the corporate headquarters. “I don’t like being disrespected!” she kept saying.

I did my best to stay out of it. I honestly did. But after standing there for five minutes while she threw a hissy fit, I stepped in.

“Ma’am,” I said. “I have watched this whole interaction. You are the one being disrespectful. Look behind you. There is a line of customers. You are making them wait because you felt slighted. I don’t believe you were. The worker has been nothing but nice to you. Please, just pay for your sandwich and walk away.”

She turned to start telling me off when several other people in line started to clap and cheer me on.
In a huff, she walked out of the store. After she left, the worker, tears in his eyes, thanked me. He even gave me a free cookie for being nice.

Upon leaving the store, it occurred to me that the lady reminded me of a school bus traveling on the freeway.