“I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”
A recent news story out of British Columbia reminded me of this little earworm from a popular song Alabama released in 1992.
In ‘I’m In A Hurry’ the writer bemoans the increasingly fast pace of society and admits that he, too, is caught up in the rush but he can’t explain why.
Two decades later – despite a slew of technological advances and time-saving devices – the pace is arguably faster than ever. At least many of us constantly seem to be in a hurry to get things done.
So I guess the B.C. story about another potential time-saver should have come as good news. On some B.C. highways, the legal speed limit is going up to 120 km/h (about 75 miles per hour). Legislators there believe higher speed limits reduce collisions. Despite their cited studies I’m skeptical that faster is safer, and I hope legislators here don’t follow suit. The last thing we need is another excuse — this time legal — to make up time on the highway. If we can travel faster, some of us reason, we can leave later and still get there on time.
That mindset is so far from my late father’s, and probably many others of his generation. When he went on a trip (not necessarily a long trip – O’Leary to Alberton would qualify) he always allowed enough time to change a tire en route and still get to where he had to be on time. He was seldom late for appointments and I don’t recall him being terribly rushed, either.
Time management also figured into the lifestyle of another busy couple for whom I have a great deal of respect. I met Eville and the late Ada Gorham (formerly of Summerside) more than 30 years ago in Minneapolis where my sister was being treated for a serious illness. Many things impressed me about this couple – their generosity, compassion and family values – but it was their complete willingness to make time for people they barely knew that amazes me to this day.
At the time, Eville was a dedicated professor and internationally renowned scientist. Some of his early research was the stimulus for a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and other research he conducted led to the elimination of acid rain in many parts of the world. He was a very busy man.
I recently stumbled across an hour-long interview the university conducted with Eville, at the time in his mid-80s. After discussing his long teaching career and scientific research, he observed that society still hasn’t gotten the message about conserving energy. For the past six years, he said, he would take Highway 94 every day to visit his wife at a nursing home. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and had recently passed away. He said he drove at 50 miles per hour, just below the posted limit.
Do you think anybody stayed behind me? Everybody passed me going like hell, way over the speed limit. That tells me the message hasn’t gone home. We have got to stop using so much energy.”
And energy saving, he contended, wouldn’t be the only benefit of lower speed limits. “In the course (of slowing down) we could save money, save our dependence on foreign oil, and save lives.” To get there, he offered a simple solution – police should enforce the speed limits.
Could we get to where we have to go travelling at speeds lower than 75 miles per hour, the new legal limit on some B.C. highways? Or even at or under 90 km/h (55 m/h), the current speed limit on many Island highways?
If our lives are so rushed that we feel the need to make up time on the highway, we probably should be re-thinking our priorities. We may be setting unrealistic expectations about what we can achieve in the time that’s available. Raising the speed limit only bolsters the idea that time can be gained on the highway.
Living life in the fast lane is fine but when it comes to the highway, there must be reasonable speed limits along the way. To my way of thinking, 120 km (75 miles) per hour is excessive.
Wayne Young is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.