One morning a few months ago, as I drove up Main Street in Coupeville toward our town’s only stoplight, carefully observing the 25 mph town speed limit, of course, I spotted in the rear view mirror a snazzy red convertible rapidly approaching my bumper.
In the car, I could see a man wearing expensive aviator sunglasses talking in an agitated fashion to his female companion, whose well-coiffed hair was rustling in the Penn Cove breeze. I tried to read their lips, and this is how I imagine their conversation might have gone:
Man: “C’mon, grandpa! We don’t have all day. Move it!”
Woman: “Geez, these small town hicks drive like they have no where to go. What time is the ferry?”
Man: “In half an hour and if we miss that one, we may not make our flight!”
Woman: “And then we’ll be late for the dinner party tonight in L.A.! Damn!”
Too bad they didn’t gun it and go around me so they could have read my lips in their rear view mirror:
“Welcome to Coupeville, visitors! Glad you’re here! I’m self-enforcing our speed limit. Slow down and enjoy our town!”
I shared this story with my friend Keith Mack, the genial marketing manager at WhidbeyHealth, when he asked me for some “funny” things to say about Coupeville in his remarks as master of ceremonies at the recent Ebey’s Reserve Film Festival. His comments on Coupeville’s “self-enforced” speed limit drew a big, knowing laugh from the local crowd. We know who we are.
One of the things I like most about living on the Rock is our pride in manners and proper driving habits. Indeed, our town speed limit is 25 mph, and we have only one town marshal. So, therefore, we are proud to self-enforce our speed limit. In fact, if you pull up and hug our bumper, we may just go even slower than the limit. I have to admire the brave souls who do that, thereby suffering even worse slings and arrows of outraged people in a hurry.
Of course, our self-enforcement does create some confusion, consternation and impatience among those used to a freer interpretation of the speed limit laws. You know who you are. And, no, going only a “few” mph above 25 is not what “everybody” does.
Think of all the money and higher insurance rates we’ve saved our visitors and our neighbors by helping them avoid tickets. And think of all the enjoyment we’ve given them by forcing them to take a closer look at our beautiful surroundings instead of their speedometers. And think of all the hours we have freed up for the marshal to pursue much worse crimes, like tossing beer cans out car windows or violating the burn ban.
I suggest that we all hold our heads up high and say it loud: “I self-enforce and I’m proud!” Maybe we could even print up some bumper stickers that read: “There’s More to See at 25 mph!”