She is not a happy camper, and it is because of me…
“SLOW DOWN!” a voice screamed from somewhere behind us. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, so our windows were down, and her voice echoed clearly in the interior of the truck as we rolled down the street. We were driving through a campground, along the eastern edge where the permanent seasonal campers reside. The street was somewhat more narrow than a regular city street, but wide enough for two vehicles to pass comfortably when traveling in opposite directions. Recreational vehicles of varying size, value, and upkeep lined the street on both sides.
The posted speed limit was 5 mph. Also, there were a few cement speed bumps constructed to ensure that drivers slowed down to a safe speed. When I heard the woman scream, I immediately looked at my speedometer to see how fast I was going. I was going 9 mph. While it was only 4 mph above the speed limit, it represented an astonishing 180% beyond the posted limit. The speed limit on the highway near the campground was 70 mph, so it was the equivalent of going 126 mph, a speed that would surely land me in deep trouble if I was clocked going that fast by law enforcement.
But, as mentioned, I was going 9 mph. I may be misremembering my surroundings at the time, but I think that a little girl had just blown past me on her scooter moments before the shouting incident. Traveling at that speed didn’t even generate a much needed breeze in the vehicle’s interior on that hot day, I think I was actually in the process of rolling up my windows to engage the air conditioning when I heard the jolting sound of the shrieking woman.
My family pretty much has a “keep to ourselves” philosophy when it comes to camping. We have a nice 34 foot RV parked on a narrow little strip of grass that serves as our home on weekends throughout the summer. The street where the yelling occurred is highly social, as I suspect that that campers have all known each other for several seasons, and they even constructed a little gazebo set up for them to gather. There is always music playing, some sort of game going on, and just generally people sitting in their lawn chairs and drinking, smoking, and conversing. They all seem pretty friendly, and nod or wave at us when we are driving past at more reasonable speeds than 9 mph. On that day, though, I didn’t see anyone out; but I certainly heard someone.
So the screaming incident was the first verbal communication event in our almost 2 years of participating in this community. I had hopes of making friends with other campers and hanging out at their party gazebo, but I don’t think that will happen for 4 reasons, those unforgivable 6, then 7, then 8, then 9 mph that I callously, recklessly drove through a seasonally residential area. Now, the prospect of friendship has been shattered, perhaps forever, because of 4 mph.
Yes, I’m being snarky. Yes, I’m being a smart ass. I apologize for that. But believe me, in all seriousness, it comes from a place of self-loathing and regret that arises whenever I make a mistake. Whether large or small, all errors I make hit me hard. I’m transferring my guilt into a stance of ridiculing the screaming lady around Site 25. And since I’m being honest here, it was actually the second time I was yelled at (oops, I forgot to mention that above somehow, my bad). The first time, I have no idea how fast I was going, but I would guess it was in the same range. So the only thing worse than making a mistake is making that mistake multiple times.
Is 9 mph a dangerous speed to drive through a camp ground? I don’t think so. There are golf carts buzzing around the community much faster than that, and I’m fairly certain that I witness people going 15 -20 mph past my campsite all of the time. But I’m not a human speed gun and I’m not sure how fast they are going. So thus far, I haven’t screamed at anyone. However, just ask my kids, I have a booming, scary voice when necessary, and I’m always ready to unleash it. But I doubt I will, unless it is a pretty damned significant traffic violation, probably if a driver speeds by followed by a sonic boom from breaking the sound barrier.
Over all, I’m writing this blog from a position of petulance. I don’t like to be wrong. Part of my solution has been to avoid that street, and exit on a different street going my typical 10 mph. Another thought was to just go through at a speed that is barely above idling, just take my foot off of the gas and roll down the street at 1–2 mph and taking 10–15 minutes to travel the 100 yard stretch. That will teach them! “See, I’m in compliance, big mouth, go shout at someone else, maybe that kid over there on his tricycle going 6 mph could use a nice tongue lashing!” Don’t worry, I have absolutely no intention of doing this.
Thus ends this shameful blog entry without a real point, other than to air several of my embarrassing flaws to my audience, which currently consists of no one. Consider it a nice little hostile interlude between the generally positive and productive blogs that are otherwise found on this site!