Don’t Drive too Fast

“Life is too short to drive fast” read the bright yellow, basically glowing, sticker that was strategically placed on the back of the beat up car in front of me. For someone who seemed to enjoy sporting stickers that they think offer good advice, I was prepared for the onslaught of other stickers and magnets that feature who the driver voted for and when, which dogs they have, how many children, and other junk they bought in gas stations around the country. But instead, that yellow rectangle was the only one, slapped right in the middle of the trunk, eye level with the person who had the honor of being behind them that time.

I usually comment loudly to myself the grossness and disdain I feel about bumper stickers, the sheer violation of the car itself, but that’s probably because I treat my car like I would my wife if I had one, or better. But there was something about this bumper sticker that seemed to stir something.

Driving fast is one of my fortes, hence my nice car that I worked so hard to get and I treat it beautifully, letting all its horses fully run when they want. And I know that it is a lot of other people’s favorite or necessary thing to do, whip around bends because we’re always running late for something. Using that cushion of five over and stretching it to ten over, fully thinking that we’re immune to rules and signs and flashing lights behind me, which has happened before multiple times.

Something about this sticker’s phrase got me thinking though. If life really is that short, wouldn’t you want to drive faster? Get to the places you need to get to at lightening speed so you have more time at the end of the day, not wasting a whole day in bumper-to-bumper traffic like I am stuck in now. Doesn’t that make more sense?

But then there’s the whole thought to take some time to smell the roses. Maybe this person who might I add did like to drive slow when we were moving, wants to enjoy the feeling of being in a car, feeling the wind coming through the rolled down windows, the sound of rain on the windshield, the smell of freshly cleaned leather, music coming through the speakers, the feel of fresh asphalt under the tires, the sight of a long, stretched-out, lonely road that just begs to be driven on, all those things add up to some euphoric driving experience that I know I take have taken for granted.

Maybe there are other things that we have all taken advantage of. My mind drifted to my grandfather, whom was the only person I could think of, while letting the heat of the day radiate off the concrete under my tires and up into my car, that didn’t take anything for granted. He was a collector. My grandmother and mother both hated it, but he wasn’t scary hoarder like some people could be, but he more just found beauty in things most people thought were junk. He was definitely the type of person that would stop and smell those flowers.

And I loved it a little when I was a kid. Opening his closets, which I have done thousands of times, but always finding something new, something older, different, more interesting, less interesting, or colorful and I wanted to discover all of it.

For one of my birthdays, I received a box from my grandpa. The box was old, odd in shape but more or less not exciting. However, it didn’t open. I tried with my hands, with a screwdriver pried into the lock and other ways. Pretty soon, my childish brain was bored with it and I was kind of cursing my grandfather for giving me such a lame gift. Well little did I know that that was going to be the last birthday I’d spend with him and once he passed, I knew I should have treasured it more.

Well, I grew up and forgot about the box, but now I was thinking about it. When I got the box, Grandpa said that the key was already with me. I knew that I didn’t have any keys laying around randomly at the age of eleven. But now, as I sit in my car, watching the clouds and the traffic lights change from red to green and no one moves, I think about all the keys I have in my life. My car keys, house keys, a key to my high school locker padlock, key to the mailbox, key cards to lone hotel rooms that for some reason I needed to keep in my wallet or desk drawer, key to my first apartment that I wasn’t supposed to keep, key to a girlfriend’s house that I really wasn’t supposed to keep, and one random, fancy-looking key that just somehow appeared in one of my drawers and I couldn’t bare to part with. I never understood where it came from, I figured since it was too fancy to be attached to me, it had to be from a passing blonde chick that wanted to leave a little piece of her with me. But maybe it was from someone else, or maybe I’ve just had it all along.

That key had to be attached to that box and now I was able to figure out what was in it. Life is too short to drive too fast, to let anything be left unturned, unopened, undiscovered. So drive slow, look at the clouds and think things through, or just think in general. Spend less time trying to fight your way from point A to point B, take your time. Don’t drive fast.

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