Barry Saunders

Life in the slow lane suits some folks just fine – Saunders

Barry Saunders doesn’t think North Carolina should penalize those who drive too slow in the left lane.
Barry Saunders doesn’t think North Carolina should penalize those who drive too slow in the left lane. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Is it crazy to have a tender spot in one’s heart for you Sunday drivers who like nothing better than getting in the left-hand lane and abruptly slowing down the flow of traffic on any day, especially when you’re texting or applying makeup?

Keep doing you, boo.

Other people may flip you off and call you names, but I love y’all because when you’re out there driving like the recently departed legend Chuck Berry – with no particular place to go – you provide those of us who have somewhere to go the only socially acceptable situations in which we can dust off the vocabulary we learned in the Navy.

Muy therapeutic, I’ve found.

Despite the rage and inconvenience these inconsiderate clods in cars cause others, we should thank the N.C. Senate for prudently killing a bill that would’ve made being a slowpoke a crime. As if state troopers don’t have enough to do already, Senate Bill 303 would’ve outlawed “impeding the flow of traffic” in left-hand lanes on highways.

That bill, praise The King – Richard Petty, that is – died in committee. (Though a House effort to revive the idea came Monday.)

When faced with a driver who wouldn’t get out of the way on the track, Petty and other NASCAR drivers, back before the sport became so corporatized and abandoned places such as Rockingham and North Wilkesboro, saw nothing wrong with “swapping paint” with them.

No one does that on Interstate 85, but the actions of dawdling drivers can still be deadly, first by causing people to drive recklessly with one hand because they’re using the other – or at least one finger of it – to convey their opinion.

It can also be deadly when you block the passing path of someone loaded for bear.

Barry.Saunders.jpg
Barry Saunders Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

Once when my car broke down in Chicago, I caught the train back to Gary, Ind., and picked up my mechanic Ivan and his pals to come over to fix it. As I drove Ivan’s car on the Dan Ryan Expressway – Interstate 94, which is also about the slowest traffic ever gets on it – we were impeded by a driver in the fast lane. After a couple of miles she adjusted her rearview mirror – to show that she saw me trying to get by – but continued at her leisurely pace.

When I flashed my high beams alerting her that I wanted to pass, she flashed her I.Q. with her right hand and mashed her brakes, causing me to, also, and upsetting my passengers.

Seconds later, I heard the unmistakable clicks of weapons being loaded – Ivan & Co. never went to Chicago without being strapped – and I knew the driver in front of me could be in trouble.

I slowed down and returned to the slower-moving middle lane, but I have always wanted to tell the woman just how much danger she could have been in by ignoring the speed limit, by intentionally slowing down traffic as though she were a one-woman traffic czar and by antagonizing motorists trying to pass her.

Bless her heart, wherever she is.

Instances of road rage that lead to violence are probably no more prevalent now than they were in the past, but with every motorist thinking he or she is Spike Lee or Cecil B. DeMille, cameras are everywhere to record them. Look it up: there are enough road rage videos on the internet to sate the bloodlust of even the Marquis de Sade.

On second thought, don’t look it up.

As is true for every occasion, there is a song in honor of the slowpokes who blithely block traffic. Here, sung to the tune of Conway Twitty’s version of “Slow Hand,” is “Slow Lane.” Maestro, hit it:

Darlin’, don’t say a word, cos I know that you heard

My horn beeping so I can pass.

But you refuse to move

you’ve got a slow groove.

Would you please move your ---?

You are a man in the slow lane

But I’m a driver with a leaden foot.

You are somebody who will take his time

Who gets in the fast lane and just stays put.

When it comes to driving you need to understand

You are a man in the slow lane.

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9

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