Thursday, January 20, 2011

A hairy tortoise?

This discussion comes up a lot in Richmond. Many of us pride ourselves on being southern with all the charms and tendencies thereof... especially when we're behind the wheel.

Virginia drivers are like the tortoise in the tortoise (can I just use "turtle" now?) and the hare race. Northerners are like the hare.

(Don't worry, "Northern Virginians", I'm including you in the Northerner category.)

You know the story: the turtle took his time, merrily he went with consistency at his slow pace all the way to the finish line. The hare got cocky, took a nap, and now elementary school classrooms around the world mock and laugh at him.

When it comes to driving in Richmond, out-of-towners get mad at the slow pace of Richmonders on the road. When the light turns green, we step on the pedal. We're not revving the engine in anticipation of the switch.

We go six to ten miles above the speed limit, most of the time, even if we don't spy a cop along the road (radar detectors aren't allowed here). The hares sometimes show signs of impatience and ride up on our tortoise shells.

Who sounds like the winner in this scenario? The hare gets all flustered, sets himself up for a speed trap if he's not careful, and potentially jumps the gun too early waiting for the green light. The turtle just canters along his merry way, arriving at his destination at roughly the same time as the hare.

Who wouldn't want to be the slow, seemingly patient and consistent animal in this children's story? Well, this isn't the whole picture.

As a Richmond turtle, I know the slow, green way of doing things can be just as harmful as the quick, fluffy way.

Turtles, let's come clean: When a hare gets right on our shell-y tush, we take our sweet time to move out of his way. If we can help MacGyver a little 3 or 4 car-box for the impatient hare, we do it in the name of teamwork and "teaching this guy a lesson."

My Gramma, like most grandparents, drove like a very old turtle, sans vendetta. When she was driving, she would always remark to her passengers, "Everybody's in such a rush. See, you had to wait like everyone else, buddy."

Her tone was sweet and I'm sure she said a little prayer for them instead of plotting a way to piss off the hurried hare. As I try to improve my retaliation turtle ways, her words are ringing in my ears.

Logically, being the hare shaves maybe 5 minutes off a pretty long drive and causes ulcers. Being the turtle puts us in a constant mindset of vengeance and teaching lessons.

Are we here to teach lessons or to improve the world? These are not mutually exclusive, but if we corrode our insides with this form of hate, how can we expect to accomplish the latter?
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8 comments:

vitaconsecrata said...

Hmm. Interesting. Here in New England we've got those who drive fast (which I guess would be the hare in this case) and those who drive slow...below the speed limit (the turtle). I'm a hare.
BUT, then we've got the hare's on crack. Who think they are better than everyone else and their destination is much more important to get to than anyone else's. I know I have characteristics of all three traits. I only drive about 10 miles above the speed limit though...typically. ;-)

Julie Robison said...

I'm definitely the hare. I get highway claustrophobia (self-diagnosed!) if I am too close to another care and there is a whooole nother lane, waiting for my tires to vroom over. :)

Kevin said...

I don't know, Eliz, I think people in Richmond drive pretty fast, thankfully! Most mornings I have to be ready to jump on the throttle in order to hold my position before we can all slam on our brakes at the next traffic light.

Try driving in Roanoke. It's impossibly slow. We actually have it pretty good here, imho.

Elizabeth said...

Tina- I suppose I'm lopping all "northerners" into the hare crack category. Those are the ones who we try to box in... or those are the ones that turtles and Former Me tried to box in.

Julie- I also get highway claustrophobia (that's what that lane is for! :) ) and I speed, I just don't try to weave in and out of the cars.

Kevin- Hmmm maybe I don't spend enough time on the road in the morning. Or maybe I make a point of doing something else while the light is red. I definitely take my time, though.

Kerrie @ TFK said...

This made me crack up! I'm a hare crack driver (born/raised in New Jersey, living in NYC), and my husband is more like a hare meth driver....When we drive through the south (especially S. Virginia), we always bring up the driving differences...

Elizabeth said...

Thanks! It's a different world down here, that's for sure.

Josh said...

I'm from Northern Virginia, but I'm a native Virginian and I've got family roots in the Commonwealth going all the way back to the 1600s. My mother can remember when Tyson's Corner was nothing but farm land. I don't consider myself a Northerner at all, but I agree with you about the make-up of Northern Virginia. My friends and I call it the "occupied territory." There are very few of us natives left up here.

And you're right about the driving speeds. All of the folks from Fairfax who drive their fancy sports cars always have to go 20 miles above the speed limit. Funny thing is, they don't get any further that way. People zoom past me in the other lane, only for me to catch up to them at the red light ahead. What's the point? There's too much traffic and congestion around here for higher speeds to make a difference.

Anyway...I hope to get out of Northern Virginia eventually. I'm a country boy at heart. Once I'm finished with seminary, I have no reason to stick around. Ideally, I want to move to Front Royal, Culpeper, or somewhere in between. Or even Lynchburg if the Lord leads me. We'll see.

By the way, I found your blog through Tina's blog. Hope you don't mind me reading and commenting. I just saw this entry and I had to add my two cents. Thank you for posting it!

Christine said...

I think I still identify with the elementary school children laughing at the silly, sleepy hare.

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