Road trips are difficult for a lot of reasons. You’re trapped in a car filled with Cheerios crumbs (ew), you’re trapped in a car with other people, you’re trapped in a car with weird fake air, and, oh yeah, you’re trapped in a car. When you’re from New Jersey, and the East Coast in general, I assume, you’re up against a whole new demon: People Who Drive Like My Grandparents.
In the South, people speak slower. They walk slower. They eat slower. And, most annoyingly, they drive slower. They actually go the speed limit. Now what the hell is that? And most frustrating of all, when I finally pass them flying by going 85 with the music blasting and the windows open, I can see that they’re happy.
One thing that really hit me in study abroad in Florence, Italy was that after sitting down for three hours for a meal, casually sipping a glass of wine, and even strolling about the city, I realized that I had never really experienced anything before because I had never stopped to. In Italy, I tasted food I had one hundred times before that I felt I had never tasted one of those past times. I breathed in air and actually noticed it. I spoke to people and I was listening to what they were saying.
Now America is no Italy, let’s get that straight, but the South does have something on their side that goes beyond driving annoyingly slow. Southerners drive slow, talk slow, and eat slow because they’re enjoying it. They’re not always in a psychotic rush looking for the next best thing; the next most interesting person to talk to at a party, the next best meal they can ever have, or the next meeting they can squeeze into an already packed day.
Instead, they’re happy to be where they are. They can enjoy that cornbread or that nice breeze or the old lady they’re chatting with next door. Somehow, in that nice, sunny, downtime, I think they got a little farther than us up here going 20 over the 65 speed limit ever did, even if I do get to my destination five minutes quicker.