Editor's note: Doug Robinson is on vacation. The following is a reprint of a column he wrote in 2006.
I'll make this quick. I know you're in a hurry. Everybody is. That's why you're reading this so fast.
(I'll try to write fast, too.)
We do everything fast in this country. Think about it, quickly.
We have fast food, but that's not fast enough — we have drive-thrus for Faster Food.
We have fast lanes and HOV lanes, which are faster fast lanes. They put HOV lanes for sale to single drivers recently and sold out permits so FAST that you would have thought they were giving away diamonds.
There are self-checkout counters and express lanes at the grocery store.
There are drive-in banks, drive-in pharmacies, drive-in laundromats.
There are even drive-in churches in some parts of the country — worshipping made fast and convenient. Anyone for an express prayer?
There is express mail, Jiffy Lube, pay-at-the-pump gas stations, online shopping.
People go everywhere armed with cell phones, fax machines and Blackberries as if they're the president and any moment they might have to decide whether to launch nuclear missiles. I once heard a guy talking on his cell while sitting on the throne in a public restroom. Gee, we used to read hair spray cans. Talk about a lost moment of contemplation.
There are computers that operate in nanoseconds, but if we have to wait more than a couple of seconds for a response we blow an O ring.
We hurry so we can hurry to do other things hurriedly, like getting to little league games and dance lessons and workouts and errands.
(Are you still with me, or did you have to hurry off to the Pilates class?)
If we have to wait more than a few minutes in the post office, we roll our eyes and look at our watches, as if we're waiting for a bus.
Even when we recreate, we recreate quickly. If the foursome ahead of us is not playing at a certain speed, we get teed off.
(We're almost done here. Hey, I'm writing as fast as I can.)
Hold it, something's been lost. There's no time to talk with the family. No time to think. No time to sit on the back porch and stare at the clouds. No time to talk in the checkout line. No time to wait. No time. We're hurrying through life so fast that we're failing to take it all in.
"Everyone needs to go to a funeral once in a while," a man told me the other day.
This surprised me because as a rule, I try to avoid funerals, especially my own. This man — his name is Mike Anderson — explained that he owns a mortuary in Nephi, so maybe he was just hustling up business (this seems unlikely, given the fact that dying never seems to go out of style).
"Everyone needs to go to a funeral occasionally so they can slow down and revaluate their lives and priorities," he explained.
For most people, he continued, life slows down at a funeral, but not always. One lady who was waiting in line at a viewing chastised Anderson because of the slow line.
"Can't we hurry this thing up?" she asked him. Then she butted in line and did a quick viewing before she ran off to her next appointment.
Can drive-thru viewings be far behind?
Some people ask Anderson to end a viewing because there's a schedule to keep and the funeral has to be on time.
"So we start a half-hour late," he likes to tell them. "We only die once."
But for most people, funerals cause them to measure their lives, to take stock of things, to think about where they've been, where they're going, to do better, to slooow down. Let's face it, there's nothing like the death of an acquaintance to get our attention. (It's the one thing we're not hurrying to do.)
And just like that old friends and family are thrown together again and they spend the time catching up. "They always wish they had had more family gatherings like this, except not at a funeral," says Anderson. "They're wondering why they didn't get everyone together more."
So maybe we should turn to a guy who works with the dead to know how to live.
"I work in a business where people are saying lots of 'couldas,' 'wouldas,' 'shouldas,"' Anderson says. "When they get to my motel, it's a little late."