Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Greenville, SC, Where Life's Pace Is Slow and the Traffic Even Slower

Generally I am very happy with my life in Greenville. Having escaped the rude, obnoxious jerks who are overrepresented among the South Florida population, I am embracing the kinder-gentler folks inhabiting South Carolina's Upstate.

Living is less rushed, less desperate here than in Palm Beach County. I could spend an afternoon sitting on a bench along Main Street, where traffic flows with the alacrity of tree sap, and never hear the bleating of a horn, or a motorist screaming an invective at another. You could fall asleep at a red light without being awakened by an impatient driver behind you when the light turns green, then red, then green again. It's civility almost to the point of silliness. I love it.

A down side, however, is that this civility translates into a palpable lack of urgency on every street and freeway. Prozac appears to be the drug of choice among a large set of drivers who can't seem to get out of their own way. For these under-motivated motorists, posted speed limits are something to shoot for, but never quite attain. And this is the prevailing attitude in an area where the speed limits are universally ridiculously low. I-85 is a posted 60 miles per hour and I-385 a ludicrous 55 mph -- both are six-lane expressways! Surface streets are no better.

Typically the three lanes of I-85 are flowing something like this: The far-right lane is moving along about 5 mph below the speed limit; the middle lane at about at the speed limit; and the far-left lane at 2 or 3 mph above the speed limit. It's maddening. After spending nearly 25 years racing up and down I-95 between Miami and West Palm Beach, in Greenville I feel like I'm in a slow-motion replay of the 5 PM traffic report. If you are traveling slower than 75 mph on I-95, you are going to get knocked into the median by a school bus or a street sweeper. It's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride 24/7.

Surface streets are even worse. No one driving a surface street even pretends to have anywhere to go. Sometimes following these people plodding along I worry that if I go any slower, I am going to go back in time. Here's how you make a right turn. Approach the street or parking lot entrance, come to a complete stop, flip on your right turn signal, carefully turn the steering wheel to the right, step on the accelerator and ease into the turn. "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET OUT OF THE EFFING WAY!"

Yes, generally I am very happy with my life in Greenville. I just have to learn that anywhere worth getting to will still be there tomorrow and the day after.

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