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Jewish World Review March 30, 2000 /23 Adar II, 5760

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports



Speed Bumps -- SPEED BUMPS. Theyíre showing up on more and more residential streets then ever before. City workers canít seem to construct them fast enough. This is a relatively new thing -- at least at the rate that they are currently being proliferated. So, why all of a sudden are speed bumps so necessary? How come society didnít need speed bumps before now, say in the nineteen-thirties or the forties or the fifties? Why didnít we have them in the sixties? Or even the seventies. Whatís changed?

Are we driving faster today? Maybe so, but itís more complicated than that. There are many more people than there used to be. The pace of living has quickened and people in a hurry have become more reckless. Drivers tend to be more self-absorbed and less concerned with others around them. Everyone has a lot on their minds. People donít obey traffic laws as much as they once did. Not enough traffic cops to enforce the laws. For these reasons, and others, we now have speed bumps in our streets.

But the fundamental reason there are speed bumps in the streets is that people canít or wonít control themselves. Itís just that simple. And when people stop using self-control in a given situation, you can bet government will step in to control that situation for them.

Hence, speed bumps in the streets. Not in all of our streets, yet -- but itís coming to that. I mean why stop at residential streets? Might just as well stick them across busy boulevards and avenues.

And while weíre at it, why not install speed bumps on the freeways? That would be a good way to control speeders and keep people in their proper lanes, too. It could work like this: the slow lane, the one furthest to the right, would have, say, one speed bump every forty or fifty feet. The next lane to the left would have its bumps spaced every eighty to one hundred feet. The next lane would have its bumps every one hundred fifty feet, and so on until you reach the fast lane, which would have a speed bump every five or six hundred feet.

We might consider the installation of speed bumps in the aisles of airplanes to keep wild little children from running up and down. The same goes for the aisles in movie theaters and concert halls.

Hey, how about speed bumps in bicycle lanes? Just a little something to slow down those guys in their spandex suits who never look or slow down when turning a corner, crossing an intersection, or sailing into traffic.

But what we really need are speed bumps in the supermarket aisles. That would certainly slow down all those crazed women who run through the market on their way home from work using their shopping carts as weapons and taking corners on two wheels. And letís put horns on those shopping carts while weíre about it (the kind that honk, not gore).

The introduction of speed bumps into our culture is only one small example of our changing world. Interesting, isnít it, how society changes over time? We lock the doors and windows in our homes and many of us now alarm them with security systems, where once not that long ago, people didnít worry about such things. Originally my neighborhood had a wide-open country/ranch feeling to it, with corral fences or no fences at all between properties. Today more than half of the homeowners where I live have sealed themselves in with electronic security gates and prison-like high iron fences and walls. In a sense, security systems and high walls act as speed bumps for burglars, I suppose.

Too bad we havenít been able to invent speed bumps for fast talking trial lawyers and certain smarmy politicians. Wouldnít it be terrific to put the brakes on a few of those weasels who just canít seem to control themselves?

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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© 2000, Greg Crosby