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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


For the week of Oct 30 - Nov 5, 2002

Opinion Columns

Timeís winged chariotóor SUV

Commentary by JoELLEN COLLINS


Sometimes I want to shout, "What is the big hurry, anyway?" Where has our sense of cooperation and civility gone?


On my way to work this morning in the dark, an angry motorist closely tailed me. As we passed through a 25-mile-per-hour school zone, he began honking, informing me that I was not driving as fast as he wanted me to. (I was going closer to 30 than 25 but very aware of the enforcement of the limit in that section of road.) The first thought that crossed my mind was that he didnít know the limit or hadnít read it in his haste to get to work. My second was that I was unwilling to give up my need to obey the law and to avoid an expensive ticket for his 30 seconds. In short, I boiled the conflict down to time.

Waiting for other motorists or for unreasonably long stop lights is a reality of urban life that is just now beginning to bother many Wood River residents. We all are a bit impatient at these delays in our plans. Like the old lady who says, "I remember the old days" and regales her grandchildren with stories of her childhood, I am tempted to note that I first lived here when there was only one stoplight in town. That seems a romantic and rosy memory, given the time one has to wait on Elkhorn Road for the light on Highway 75 to change. I have seen people back up and run over the sensor a couple of times so the signal would think there were more cars at the stop. Once I noted my wait time and, I swear on my motherís memory, it was two and one-half minutes. Later, I was behind a driver who thought the signal was broken, eventually went through it when there were no vehicles approaching on the highway, and was stopped by a patrolman within seconds. Iím sure he would have traded another minute spent waiting for the several minutes and hefty fine he accrued while being issued a ticket.

Sometimes I want to shout, "What is the big hurry, anyway?" Where has our sense of cooperation and civility gone? I observe an increase in sighs and rolls of eyes while people have to take their turns in lines or at checkout counters. What is the arrogance that makes one person think his time is more valuable than someone elseís, that he has a right to be first in line or out of the post office more quickly than another?

I fear that we are always rushing, feeling frantic and bemoaning our "busyness," as though the busier one is the more important he is. I am not immune. Yesterday, in my rush of errands after work, I dashed into the library, checked out a book, and left it on the counter. Thatís a signal that I am trying to cram too many things into too short a time. When I do things like that, I have to stop, take a breath, and think about my priorities. I know I am setting myself up for a fall, literally, like the time I sprained an ankle tumbling down my stairs while packing a box in anticipation of renters.

Usually I am guilty of making too many stops, neglecting to combine chores, and adding unnecessary items to my "to do" list. I would think that after all my years, I would more closely follow e.e. cummings' dictum, "nothing beautiful ever hurries." Iím afraid I still willingly enlist in the army of the hurried and the frazzled.

Lately I am acutely aware of time. I find that commodity more precious as I grow older. I certainly hear Andrew Marvellís metaphor of "Timeís winged chariot hurrying near." His image of the waiting carriage of death is uncomfortable but true. We all have only so many minutes, seconds and hours on this earth, and it behooves us to use them well. But in the rush not to "waste time," we may really blow itóa hasty passing on the right, an intemperate loss of serenity at the slowness of another motorist, a mad dash on ice to get something quicklyóall these hurried actions may shorten life or, at least, our enjoyment of it.

Recently I waited at the signal on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Main Street. One can turn right onto Highway 75 from there but can not go across to Warm Springs Road until the light is green. It is a narrow road and the person behind me couldnít get around me on the right to make that turn. She, as my tormentor this morning, began honking. As a result, I gave in to her wrath and turned right onto the highway, a detour that was out of my way. Not only is this kind of rush responsible for rude behavior, but my giving in to it may cause me some danger, if not inconvenience. So, the next time someone behind me wants me to go through the signal so they can get somewhere faster, I will have to remember to take another deep breath and risk his displeasure. His saved minutes are not worth the loss of mine.

Instead of in Marvellís speedy chariot, we may be hustled to an early demise in more modern conveyances. I choose to wait as long as possible to catch a ride that way.

 

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.