Speed

  • Sunday, July 14, 2013

I’ve come to a conclusion, an epiphany of sorts.
I call these epiphanies, “epiphanal moments.” You won’t find the word epiphanal in the dictionary, but you should. Actually, you probably don’t want to take the time to get up, find your old college dictionary hidden away in a box labeled “BOOKS” in the closet under the stairs, open it, and thumb through to the letter “E.”
You’ll just “Google” it instead and realize in about 1.25 seconds – that’s about one and a half “One-Mississippi’s” – there is no such word as “epiphanal.”  You do this because it’s faster.
This was my epiphany as I sat on a bus for almost 12 hours to make a trip that should take five to complete.
It is all about speed.
Success in today’s world is all about how fast you get there, and getting there first. As racing great Ricky Bobby says, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
We judge success in nano-seconds now, somewhere between the speed of a sneeze and the blinking of an eye. We get irritated when our “War and Peace” download file takes more than 10 seconds to complete.
We consider chucking laptops out the front door like Frisbees because we can’t instant message with our make-believe online girlfriends in China instantly.
Speed is sending a text to my son who was seated next to me that bounced off a satellite in space, ricocheted off a dozen cell towers to hit his phone quicker than I could get out of my chair, walk three steps and show him what was on my phone.
That’s speed.
What I experienced on my trip home was not.
My car died last week. I had no way of getting home. There was no backup car to jump into and head out on I-85 in a blaze of glory. No family members available to give me a lift.
I was stuck.  I could not get here from there.
My options were limited: Rent a car, fly, take the train or ride the bus.
The number of options available depended on what I either had or didn’t have. Was I a “Have” or a “Have Not?”
The “Haves” have it, and the “Have Nots” don’t. What the “Haves” have is speed.
To book a seat on one of those Boeings we so proudly manufacture down here on just three days’ notice would have cost me more than I pay each month in rent. The flight would have taken about as long as a Big Bang Theory rerun.
A train ticket cost $200 and my itinerary included Atlanta, Charlotte, Wilson, NC, Florence and then Charleston, with an overnight layover in Charlotte. The trip would have taken three days.
I’d still be out there somewhere on the rails if that happened.
So I decided on the bus.
Riding the bus made me think of the old time trips families used to take on the stagecoach, leaving civilization sometime in spring and not arriving out west until a year or two later.  Those stagecoach rides would take so long you often arrived with an entirely different set of passengers from what you had when you left. Babies were born and old folks died on the trail.
My bus ride almost took that long.
My ticket included a Senior Citizens discount. Given the week I had I didn’t argue being called a senior citizen.
And don’t think I’m finished with this whole speed rant thing. You’ll be reading about it for a while.
This is going to take some time.

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