On the Road 

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"I can't believe it's not Buddha." — frustrated monk

"I'm trying to be Zen about it." I hear this phrase, now and then. It's often used as a way of saying, "I'm trying to control my emotions." But "trying to be Zen" is an oxymoron. There's no trying to be Zen. You're here now. You're already enlightened. The trick is realizing it. Which is hard.

A drive on any American roadway will certainly test your ability to control your emotions, and may have you praying to the deity of your choice. When I'm on an interstate, I like to set the cruise control a couple of miles over the speed limit and just roll. But it's difficult to keep your groove when other drivers are cutting in and out in front of you or coming up fast behind you and riding your bumper.

It's at those moments — when you're in the passing lane trying to get around a semitruck and look in your rearview mirror and see a Dodge Charger grille three feet behind you — that you realize there are folks out there hoping to make you part of their NASCAR fantasy.

There was time when I might have slowed down in that sort of situation, just to tick 'em off, or maybe lightly tapped my brakes to scare the crap out of them. But not these days. Now I realize the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a car is a good guy with a car. Or, hopefully, a tree. So I speed up slightly, put on my turn signal, pass the truck, and get out of his way, leaving him to his imagination: If he can pass 8,046 more cars before he reaches Dyersburg, he wins. Or something.

Life is too short to waste emotions on anonymous idiots — especially when they're behind the wheel and possibly armed. Life can get even shorter in that situation. A road-rage incident on I-240 last week resulted in the death of one motorist and, thankfully, the arrest of the two suspected of the shooting. There have been two other road-rage shootings in Memphis since January. It's becoming more and more common.

Fortunately, the state legislature is about to pass a law that's intended to "cut down on road rage," according to state Senator Frank Niceley (R-Bubbaville). It's called the "Slow Poke bill" and will prohibit driving in the left lane of highways with at least three lanes in each direction, unless the driver is intending to pass.

That ought to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, this same bunch of statesmen has also spent the past five years loosening our gun laws to the point of unregulated madness. It's led to High Noon on our highways. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't attach an amendment to the bill allowing anyone impeded by a "slow poke" (no doubt, a liberal) to shoot to kill if it was in line with their "sincerely held religious beliefs."

I say this because the state Senate has also just voted to designate the Bible as the official "state book," despite a 2013 ruling by the state attorney general that such a ordinance violates the Tennessee and U.S. constitutions. Jesus, take the wheel.

I think I know where the real slow pokes are, and I'm trying to be Zen about it.


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