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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3 Slow Goers

I don’t know who first said “slow and steady wins the race,” but I’m fairly certain that whatever they were watching was not really a race.  These days, everything is timed, scored or rated, and it would be a much simpler exercise to find something that isn’t a race rather than something that is.  Whether its how fast you can get to work, how quickly your food is served to you, or how long you have to wait in line - we’re all trying to save a little time, either for ourselves or for others.  Time has become the world’s most valuable commodity, and it is in short supply.  And while I see this new paradigm reflected almost universally, there are those precious few souls who seem wholly and maddeningly unaffected by it.  You know who I’m talking about, those folks who don’t seem to be in any particular hurry, and don’t seem to care too much that everyone else is?  I am hard pressed to come up with a class of individuals who more quickly or completely make me want to reach for my rake, and so, in the interests of fair warning, here are 3 slow folks who need to speed the hell up:

1.  Luke Slow-walker.  It’s not that I can’t appreciate the visceral quality of a nice quiet stroll - I can.  But there is a time and a place for those types of walks, and that does not include any shopping locations, transportation hubs or city sidewalks.  Basically, anywhere you might have to be around a fair amount of people that you wouldn’t normally choose to be hanging out with.  You see, pedestrian traffic, like regular traffic, is a linear system - meaning that I’m not able to go over or under you, I’m (technically) not allowed to go through you, and so if there’s no way around you, I’m stuck behind you.  Now I realize that you don’t know I’m back here.  I know that because you haven’t turned around to see the look on my face - which is something of a combination of just having consumed some week-old milk and the utter disbelief I’m experiencing from wondering how someone with your complete lack of spacial awareness has survived any number of busy intersections, crosswalks or other high-traffic situations to this point in their lives.  Don’t misunderstand, I’m not talking about the infirm here (assuming that we can agree that obesity is not a handicap), I’m talking about otherwise mobile individuals who just seem incapable of the multitasking required to both breathe and walk at the same time.  If this is you, maybe just hold off on the breathing for a while and get moving - at least that way there’s a 100% chance you won’t be keeping the rest of us from getting where we’re going.         

2.  Tipping Point.  Vegas is a car town.  I used to think that Los Angeles was a car town, but for average quality - you can’t beat this desert oasis.  I would say the luxury car per capita around here is somewhere around .5 - or one really nice car for every two people.  It’s not uncommon to see a Bentley, Maserati, or Lamborghini just while running  errands and nowhere near the Strip.  There are also an astounding number of large and fancy SUVs - especially given the extraordinarily flat nature of the city’s landscape.  And the one thing these expensive cars all have in common is their exceptional handling.  Responsive steering systems, anti-slip and anti-lock braking, and high performance automatic transmissions mean that you can navigate the urban landscape with little difficulty or worry.  Which makes it all the more baffling why the drivers here feel the need to turn their expensive cars as though they are 1975 Oldsmobile station wagons.  Seeing a car built to take corners at sixty miles an hour take them at three is a head scratcher, and watching a truck capable of literally fording a river go over a lowered curb   as though it may collapse its suspension is the kind of thing that makes me wonder if maybe there ought to be a minimum IQ to get a drivers license.  Look people, there hasn’t been a car with a reliable tipping risk since the Suzuki Samurai (meep, meep... HI!) so give it a little gas and get around the damned corner already.

3.   Checking Yourself Out.  The self-checkout lanes appearing at grocery stores and discount chains of late are a wonder of modern technology that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. Obviating the need for checkout assistance, you can be prompted through the entire experience - and avoid having to wait in line.  What’s more, what the company saves in not having to hire someone to do that job, they can use to pass on savings to you - or even buy more self-checkouts.  But what I once thought to be an opportunity to avoid that perilously bad luck I always seem to have in these queues (e.g. getting behind someone who was shopping annually, or paying with coins/personal check), has turned into one of the most reliable indicators of the intellectual apocalypse since the Palin candidacy.  Honestly, watching people become confused by the built-for-five-year-olds screen prompts and ultimately paralyzed into some kind of machine paranoia whereby they’re convinced that this technology is some how completely ineffective just because they’re too dumb to use it, is the kind of thing that makes me want to build a bomb shelter and gather enough emergency rations for a few years and just go away - hoping to come back to a world where we’ve just eaten all the dumb people.  I feel like Wal-Mart took up my challenge when I wrote “there’s no way that people could move any slower” in one of their stores - and set up these intelligence tests disguised as checkout stands.  And as with all failures, the only thing more painful than watching someone fail, is watching them fail slowly.  

* * *

Sure, not everything needs to be fast-paced.  I like a slow dance, a slowly poured beer and even a slow ride just as much as the next guy.  But I also know that the only thing slow and steady has ever resulted in is a very consistent last-place finish.  What’s more, if you are one of those folks who either has the means, or simply the lack of interest in life, to keep moving at the same speed of the rest of us - the least you can do is stay out of our way!  We’ve got somewhere to be - that isn’t waiting for you.  Besides, it’s not like I can’t appreciate the value of stopping to smell the roses every once in a while.  Just make sure that when you do - there’s no one behind you (especially if they’ve got a rake).  


Abe said...

Your "thing" about the self-checkout lanes gave me a good laugh and caused me to write my first comment. Hilarious. Many times I have run into Ralphs to grab some quick groceries. I go to the self-checkout line to "save time." Four machines filled with four confused people waiting for the employee to come over to help them. I always have to go wait in the old-school checkout lines because they end up being FASTER. Haha.

OZ101 said...

Ahhh, the Slow Walker. My arch-nemesis as I am a Fast Walker. The Slow Walker will always go walk in packs, constantly crowding the entire sidewalk or mall walkway. I either have to speed myself to the other side of the mall (where I will undoubtedly get stuck behind another slow walker) or walk on the street (where I may get run over by a slow turning Humvee). I hate the slow walker with a passion!

Jen and Tonic said...

MY GOD, those self-checkout lanes are really a test in my patience, and other people's IQ levels. If you aren't smart enough to figure out how to scan something, you need to get your ass in to the regular line. Period.

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