By Ryn Gargulinski: Quay County Sun Managing Editor
When I was in some class that no one was paying attention to some 200 years ago, I recall the instructor, in an attempt to tame his unruly bunch, stand in the middle of the room and scream “Slow Down!”
That’s sort of like New Mexico. Even though many speed limit signs read 35 mph, the average Jose goes about 3 mph. I’m not talking about the speed on the roads — unless it’s behind an old man in a hat, who goes about .03 mph — but the average pace of the soul.
Sure, we go fast on the highways — that’s just a given. There is no better way to enjoy the fine stretches of nothingness while jamming to Steppen Wolf. But when a poor bird splats on our windshield or gets a wing wedged in our grill, it’s simply a blatant reminder we are moving much too fast.
New Mexico, perhaps, was invented to remedy that fact.
My new landlord summed it up best when he said “I’ll get to it when I get to it, if I don’t — I won’t.” As long as he’s not referring to repairing a caved-in roof or an exploding toilet, it’s a pretty noble way to live. Or at least one that doesn’t cause ulcers.
I even threw away my watch. Well, I didn’t really throw it away since it has a kickin’ leather band, but I did put it in my archive box that contains things like my fur hat, my Charles Manson T-shirt and my NYC subway MetroCard.
The NYC subways aside, which have the capacity to ramble up to 70 mph but usually putter at 8, the pace of the Big Apple is deafening. The pushing and shoving of the crowds gets so intense that a former mayor even proposed making a “fast lane” on the city sidewalks. A line down the middle of the concrete would set one side for Speedy Gonzales types while the other would be set aside for strollers and old men in hats.
It’s a novel idea — right up there with public pay toilets — but it just wouldn’t work. The Brooklyn Bridge already has two lanes set up — one for walking and the other for bicycles. Sure enough, the pedestrians find their fellow walkers ambling much too slow and end up pouring into the bike lane.
When bikers swerve to avoid that wayward pedestrian, they end up plowing into another innocent walker who just happens to have thousands of dollars of camera equipment. The front bike wheel gets mangled, the biker flips from the frame and a wrist or two gets sprained.
You may ask why the biker just didn’t slam on the brakes. Well, she couldn’t because — alas — she was moving much too fast.
Even cyclists in New Mexico take on a languid pace. My boyfriend and I found that out while taking our first ride around a snaking canal in Tucumcari. And we weren’t going slow just because our wheels were sticking in the mud or we were watching for goatheads. The only time we went fast was when we were chasing each other behind trees in the cemetery.
It may have been the finest bike ride of my life; at least certainly superior to that Brooklyn Bridge mishap. The languidness of this life leaves us time to savor the sunset, bask in the breeze and inhale the begonias, provided New Mexico has begonias.
Perhaps the slogan should be changed — “Land of Enchantment” to “Land of the Languid.” Maybe I’ll even write a letter to the governor about this. I guess I’ll get to it when I get to it. If I don’t — I won’t.
Ryn Gargulinski works for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. Contact her at: