>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?