09 Jul If Common Courtesy Becomes Uncommon
This past 4th of July weekend, David and I did what so many folks do to celebrate our great Nation’s birthday. We took a drive. We always look forward to a good car trip. Indeed, like so many of our rural and small town friends, we regularly put 15,000+ miles on our cars each year, which may explain why low priced fuel is a big deal for us out here in more remote locations. But, I digress.
We drive in snow, wind and rain, we haul boats and trailers, travel in new cars, old cars, pretty much all types of driving. In Montana, there’s never a shortage of great scenery. So we get it when drivers slow down in front of us for a critter or scene that’s worth photographing.
We’ve noticed something over the past few years that’s been “driving” us kind of nuts and it was particularly bad this 4th. Fewer drivers are staying in the right lane and allowing faster cars to pass them on the left. About 43,000 times this weekend, we came up over a hill at 75 mph only to discover a car in the left lane driving 10-20 mph under the speed limit! Sometimes there was a car in the right lane, other times the right lane was completely empty.
It was almost as if, having found him/herself in the left lane, it’s just too much trouble for the driver to move back over into the right lane. We even encountered truckers, usually the best drivers on the road, driving 20 mph below the speed limit as they crawled past other vehicles while impeding all the other traffic in the left hand lane.
So here’s the problem: Road sharing requires a certain amount of common understanding and courtesy which seems recently to have declined. Is it possible that, as our sense of civility wanes, so does our willingness to accommodate others on the road or in our daily lives? We see so much discourteous discussion and behavior in the media, is it possible that it’s spilling over into our own everyday lives? Tolerance is always a good thing, but does that mean tolerating incivility? If so, we have bigger issues than I’ve suspected in our Great Nation.
If common courtesy becomes uncommon, we will pay dearly. With 7+ billion people and growing on the planet, being considerate of others simply becomes more important, not less.
Now, I’m a pretty strong live and let live kind of person. I believe that it takes all kinds and welcome the diversity that has long characterized the best of the U.S.; free, multi-cultural, and tolerant of others different beliefs and perspectives.
But, slow drivers in the left lane? My friends, if that’s a test of tolerance and accommodation, I fear I will surely fail.