TOWNER, N.D. — Not everything in this world is made for speed. Like the old horses we put our kids on, the turtles we see out in the pasture and the farm implements we pull down the road from time to time.
I spent a little quality time on the open road last night with the speedometer pegged between 25 and 30 miles per hour. I was pulling a new “V-rake” home behind my pickup. It’s a 20-wheel contraption made for raking hay, a real time-saver in the field, but a bit of a time-consumer when you’re heading down the highway.
But there’s a safe speed to travel and an unsafe speed to travel when you have something a little unwieldy snaking along behind your pickup.
I have a cousin Harold in Alaska who does a lot of inherently dangerous things. I figure fishing and crabbing and running a tugboat is a little like farming and ranching, except it’s on the water instead of on the prairie.
I was visiting him up in Alaska and we were doing something risky as we launched a boat when he looked over at me and said, “Remember, safety third. Right after cost and convenience.” Then he smiled as I reacted to his twist on the “safety first” motto I’d always heard.
I thought about his line on safety when I was pulling that rake down the highway. I found the upper limit of speed that I could travel when I hit a little bump and the rake started to jump and the tires swayed.
I decided that cousin Harold’s “safety third” still means “safety first.” The way I figured it would cost a lot if I crumpled up that new rake into a pile in the ditch, and it would be darn inconvenient to have to deal with that mess, too. Just like it would be expensive and inconvenient to get hurt or laid up when we’re doing something dangerous and not taking precautions. So, even when we think we’re putting safety third, it’s still really first.
A line forms
Some of the highway I was on was pretty busy, and it didn’t take long before a line of cars formed behind me. I stayed over on the right shoulder as best I could and the cars and trucks filed by me pretty politely. No one blasted their horn, shook their fist or waved any unfriendly fingers at me as I slightly slowed their commute.
I always think of the story a friend told me about a rancher in Montana driving a narrow switchback road in the mountains. He had a trailer full of horses and the going was tough, and slow, as heavy wet snow started to fall.
In his side view mirror he saw a little sports car come up behind him, honking his horn, flashing his lights and likely making some irate gestures as he tried to get around the pickup and trailer, but the switchbacks were too narrow and steep to do much in those conditions but just keep going.
Finally, the rancher tired of the extra road stress heaped on him by the sports car behind his trailer. He stopped in the middle of the road, got out, walked back to the car and said, “All right, you little jerk, you get up there and drive that pickup, I’ll drive the car, blare the horn, flash the lights and shake my fist at you!” I don’t think he took him up on the trade, but I reckon the point was made.
I guess the Golden Rule applies to driving, too. Especially if you come up behind someone pulling something with a slow moving sign on it. Treat them like you’d like to be treated.
I’m guessing any of us who’ve had to drive something slow are the most understanding when we come up behind someone else who has to go slow.
Remember, safety first, plus a little patience.