Sunday, August 16, 2015

SMVs and Patience

Last week was monumental for Dad and I. Well, maybe not monumental for most years but certainly for this current year. It was monumental because we finally finished planting soybeans. Once again I will say that I will never, ever complain about rain, but it certainly did slow the whole process down this year. Dad said it was the latest he can ever remember finishing planting.
Because of this delay in planting we decided to work last Sunday and it would have been our last day if we had not run out of seed, but that is another story for another column. We decided to go to church and then proceed with our final few acres of planting, so it was 12:30 or so before we ventured out. Dad took the lead with the tractor and planter and I followed with the pickup and seed.
The fields we were going to were off of Highway 99 so both of us had our emergency flashers on to warn other motorists that we were moving considerably slower than the posted 65 mile and hour speed limit (I always have to wonder about anyone who needs to be warned that a tractor is a slow moving vehicle but that is increasingly necessary). All we had to do was travel a half mile down the road and thankfully make a right turn. I strategically positioned myself close enough to Dad to (I thought) discourage anyone from passing.
The field entrance was just over the break of a tall hill, and no passing signs and double yellow lines warned of the dangers of passing anything in this area. As we neared the crest of the hill I saw a white car rapidly approaching us. This was the type of driver hazard lights and slow moving vehicle signs were made for and the type that they mean nothing too. In a flash the car was upon us and passed us while going over a hill, across a narrow bridge and while we had turn signals on (again, thankfully a right had turn). The car was a white flash; I had no time to warn Dad.
Thankfully his farmer radar was on and he saw the car. Two things I have learned over many years of farming along the highway. One is to always expect the worst from any passing motorist and that turn signals on a tractor are the most ignored thing in the world. I am not sure where this driver needed to be on a Sunday afternoon, but it must have been important and urgent, I hope the extra 30 seconds they gained passing over a hill helped.
Had they waited that 30 seconds we would have turned into the field and they could have been on their merry way. Even if we had not turned the other side off, the hill had a long open area that allowed for easier and safer passing. The situation called for two very rare things in our world; common sense and patience.  We could spend all day and several columns talking about how nothing is less common than common sense so let’s focus on patience.
If you live in an agricultural community (and in Kansas we all do) you will encounter tractors, trucks and combines moving at a much slower pace and this encounter is much safer for all of us if a little patience is practiced. I know am preaching to the choir here and that most of us are painfully aware of the lack of patience on the roads these days. I am also sure that each of us can benefit from a reminder to have patience on the roads. We are not exempt from being in a hurry and getting careless ourselves.
I always have to chuckle when I am driving a grain truck into town and get passed. Often I find myself right behind them at the next stop sign or traffic light. It is kind of a traffic karma that always seems to work itself out. Even if that is not the case, I really doubt the few seconds that are gained truly matter in the end.
Remember, patience is a virtue. So when we see the flashing lights in the distance or the slow moving vehicle sign. Take a deep breath; loosen that grip on the wheel and smile and wave (with all your fingers) at the person you come upon. After all that meal you are rushing too would not be possible without the slow moving vehicle that stands between you and the potluck.

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