I ran through a stop sign today. Went right through it without ever looking. That’s bad, Į know. That’s a really bad thing. I wish I had it to do over again, maybe I’d… No, I’m sure I would stop if I had it all to do over again. But, like everything else in life, there are no do-overs. You do it once, and it’s done. Whatever that may be.
It’s just that I was in such a hurry. I was in a great big hurry to get, you guessed it, nowhere. Nowhere important that is. We’re always going somewhere, and we usually think that it’s very important, but most of the time it could wait. You see, to complicate matters, and I was also on a detour for a good sized portion of State Road 135. And somehow along the way, I had lost my way.
It was then that I happened upon the stop sign. If I would have stopped, and looked, I would have noticed the marked detour, and made a right hand turn to follow it. Instead, I zoomed straight on through… to the other side of life. To the side we don’t see too often. If we do see it, we usually don’t pay attention to it.
I wandered along the back roads of Washington County. Went down a little road by the name of Beck’s Mill Road. Just kinda winds around, up and down. You don’t really want to go very fast on a road like this, there are too many twists and turns. Little bridges that need to be crossed. About four or five miles south of Salem, I came upon what I guessed to be the road’s namesake. Yep, a mill. Probably owned by a guy named Beck. The water still ran next to the old building, but the building didn’t run anymore.
Looked like maybe it could though, with a little work. I imagined that if the farmers were still there, loading their wagons, they might give me an evil eye for driving so fast. So I slowed down as I passed.
Farther on I went. Over more hills, and down into more valleys. I followed a stream until it found its way to a river. It was the Blue River, I don’t recall the name of the road I was on, but it continued south, in a meandering sort of way. Seemed like a long time, but I’m sure it was only ten or fifteen minutes. Anyhow, I came to the junction of U. S. 150 at a little place called Fredericksburg. Quiet little town. I figured that the good people of Fredericksburg might not appreciate my haste, so when I came to the junction of the highway I stopped. I paused for a good minute or two, motioned for a pickup to go ın front of me, and then turned East onto Highway 150. Once I reached the main road, I knew where I was headed. When I regained my bearings, I felt the urge to also pick up my pace. But 1 didn’t. Instead, 1 continued on my way, at a leisurely pace; noticing for the first time this year, the coming signs of spring. As I crossed the Blue River on 150, I noticed canoes laid out at the rental place, just waiting for the warm weather. By the way, if you really want to take it slow, take a canoe trip this year. Just be sure you get along with the folks you leave with, and that they are not plotting your demise, lest one of you not return.
I kept on my way now, East on 150 into Palmyra. Again, I now knew my way, but was forcing myself to take it slow. I stopped at the four way stop. It’s the only one there, kinda hard not to see that one. If you’ve been through Palmyra, I don’t need to explain. If you haven’t, go sometime, nice place. In Palmyra, I turned, and went South on 135 my intended route all along. But I learned something along the way. I mean, I guess I already knew it, just needed to be reminded. It’s important that we take our time. Time is well, time is precious. We only get so much, and then it’s gone.
So many times, we want to buzz down I-65, and set the cruise control. I guess that’s an easy way to go, but it’s not always the best way. I think that if more of us understood the workings of a one lane country road, then life on the “big road “would move along much easier. Too many of us want the destination NOW. We want to get where it is we are going, often times without worrying about how, or in what condition, we arrive there. This kind of thinking applies to both our driving habits, and also, to our way or life in general. We hurry way too much- I know I do. I get geared up to get somewhere, and I go. In doing so, sometimes things are overlooked. Sometimes, people are forgotten. Sometimes, when I’m trying to save time, I just completely throw it out the window, and keep on driving to nowhere. The old saying of “not being able to see the trees for the forest” comes to mind.
A long time ago, when I first started driving, I ran a stop sign. My dad was in the car with me. He immediately made me stop, right in the middle of the road, and back up. Dad told me that stop signs are there for a reason, and that we all need them. He told me that it doesn’t matter if you think the way is clear, or if you think you know where you’re going. Stop anyway and look to make sure.
Yes, if I had it to do over again, I would’ve stopped at that sign that I blew on through. But, knowing what 1 know now, I still would’ve gone straight. It might seem that I wasted quite a bit of time wandering around the countryside, looking at old mills, and thinking about floating down a river. But I don’t feel like I wasted anything. If anything, I feel like I gained something from the experience. Yeah, I would’ve stopped alright. But I still would’ve gone straight.
A right tum, even if it was following the detour, would’ve been wrong.
Find this and other short stories in “Cornfields to City Streets”, available at Amazon in Trade Paper Back and on Kindle!
First Published October 18, 2015