Life Expectancy


Melissa Stagnaro

I’ve racked up a lot of miles over the last few weeks. I’ve lost count of my trips up and down the highways and byways of Chenango County.  Unfortunately those miles have taken their toll.

I’m not talking about the wear and tear on my car, or the sizable dent in my bank account from countless fill-ups (despite the fact that gas is cheaper in some of my destinations).

I’m talking about getting stuck behind slow drivers. They are, I’m quite convinced, shaving years off my life.

Now, I’m not a speeder. I obey posted traffic signs. I don’t tailgate. But I do feel that, as an American, I have a God-given right to drive the speed limit.

I understand people are under the impression that they are saving gas. But have a heart! What do you think you are accomplishing by driving 40 in a 55?

Farm vehicles are, of course, an exception to this rule. I respect the agricultural heritage of our county. Well, as long as it isn’t dripping you-know-what all over the road in front of me.

Last week I drove to Bainbridge to attend the town board meeting. The trip should have taken just over 30 minutes. I gave myself 45 so I could get a good seat. Apparently, it wasn’t enough.

On Route 206, right outside of Greene, I hit what we’ll call “congestion.” I was the fourth in a line of cars behind one going 15 miles UNDER the speed limit.

After about a mile, I could feel my blood pressure start to rise. After five, I developed a twitch in my left eye. By ten, I had used every colorful word I could find in the English language and several others. (I would have gotten the “no daughter of mine” speech if my mother was in the car. But that’s a topic for another blog.)

I wasn’t the only one feeling the frustration, but apparently my patience level was higher than others in our little wagon train.

On what appeared to be a clear straight away, the third vehicle in line pulled out to pass both the car immediately in front of it and the inconsiderate lout in the “lead car.” A risky move at best, it was made considerably more dangerous when not one, but two cars pulled out from adjoining roads.

It could have been a mess, but lucky for everyone involved it didn’t end with the screeching of brakes or crunching of metal. Everyone seemed to have made it through OK.

With the exception of me. My heart is still racing and my life expectancy had dropped by at least 3.7 years.

Please. For the love of all mankind. I beseach you. Help me live to a ripe old age. Drive the speed limit.