The Speed Factor

"Come on, Slow Tommy! Let's have fun!"
“Come on, Slow Tommy! Let’s have fun!”

My sister Nicole and I have discussed this on numerous occasions: people are so slow. We don’t mean they are mentally slow, as in “Chele holds Slow Tommy’s hand,” but instead we mean that as a rule, the public physically moves through the world at an achingly slow pace. We see it in Wal Mart, we see it on public streets, we see it in airports. We see people who seem not to care that they are holding up the pace of life, nor do they seem to care if they are chronically late.

This isn’t about driving, which the public largely does too fast, and which raises an even bigger, more ironic question: why are you are driving so fast if you are going to take eight minutes to get from your car door to the front door of Taco Shack? Either you’re in a hurry or you aren’t.

When I see people like this, I conclude that most of them are simply too lazy to pick up the pace, since lugging their extra 80 pounds of body weight has become actual work. This introduces a third, even more complex and baffling irony: if you are overweight, why do you go out of your way to move slowly and park as close as possible to the door at TGI Fridays? Wouldn’t it seem like a smarter plan to park two blocks away, walk at a smart pace, and get at least a few minutes of exercise?

I was walking somewhere downtown the other day and an obese man stepped out in front of me on his way to his car. Not only was he moving insanely slowly, his girth occupied the entire sidewalk, and he seemed to have no idea he was in anyone’s way. Maybe it didn’t occur to him that people might be walking somewhere on it.

This thread started when I re-read a comment on our travel blog from a couple of years ago that said, “I was VERY impressed with how many sights you saw in a single day,” which, quite frankly, wasn’t particularly impressive. I felt that I could have seem more and done more pretty easily.

I just don’t get it. I don’t get the culture of leisure, laziness, and self-indulgence. I don’t understand why you don’t push yourself harder just to be faster and stronger. I don’t understand how you can look at a trail or a hedge maze or a climbing wall or a mountain and say, “I’ll just wait in the car.”

I don't know what this sign says to you, but to me it reads, "There are cool things close to the edge. Check them out."
I don’t know what this sign says to you, but to me it reads, “There are cool things close to the edge. Check them out.”


  1. I’ve noticed this isn’t the case everywhere, but it *does* seem related the proportion of healthy people. A little anecdote:

    When my wife first moved to Seminole, Oklahoma (from New York City), she was flabbergasted at how slowly everyone moved and talked, as if they didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be. Checkout lines, ticket-takers at sporting events, people walking (anywhere), etc. I had grown accustomed to it and only noticed it because she mentioned it.

    Then I went with her to a supermarket in New York City. The cashier did not hold my items, rotating them slowly in her hand while asking me what I was going to make with it (like they *always* did in Seminole). She just flippin’ scanned it and some other guy put it in a bag. One after another. The five people in front of us disappeared within seconds and we were out the door too. It was terribly refreshing.

    While walking on the sidewalks (you walk a lot in NYC, since they’ve run out of room for more cars), I was dumbstruck by the low number of obese people. They walked fast, watched where they were going, didn’t block doorways, moved aside on escalators if someone else was hurrying up/down past them (and they were thin enough to be able to move aside on an escalator), and so on.

    It completely wiped away the generations-long stereotype in my mind that New Yorkers were rude. I found it amazingly and pleasantly polite that everyone, like a giant cooperative organism, moved quickly enough to stay out of everyone else’s way.

    (The only real exception was auto traffic, which is the result of a simple math problem, but even then: lights were coordinated, signage was obvious, and everyone moved as quickly as possible.)

    Here in Killeen, it’s a bit of a mix between the two worlds.

  2. Look, I love (LOVE) to relax. I have a brown leather recliner with a butt-shaped indentation. I just had to change the batteries on my remote. I’m training my 50-lb. lab to be a lap dog.


    I try to earn my sloth by taking the stairs, parking far away, walking instead of e-mailing, etc. Oh, and there’s the weekly dance classes and that lab’s insistence that mommy PLAY from time to time.


    It’s rude — it’s JUST. PLAIN. RUDE. to walk so slowly in a public place! And walking faster doesn’t get you sweaty or hurt your joints or make your breath get all wheezy like actual exercise does! You won’t even notice the difference!

    — end rant —

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