Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Witnessing A Well Taught Moment

I admire those that when something needs to be said, they can say it very effectively, but in a totally unexpected, and for that moment, a better way.  Sometimes it is the person that has the snappy comeback for some off kilter comment, a child that is called on to say grace for the first time, and nails it by rapping his blessing,  or grandpa offering a limerick toast at the wedding reception without mentioning Nantucket.

All unexpected, and can be very well done.

The other day, I saw an other example here in town.  We were driving east on Route 20, and came to a red light at the junction with Route 131.  We were in the right lane, and a motorcycle was in the left lane.  The light changed, and we all advanced to the next light some 150 feet away, and waited again.

We are used to waiting twice, some aren't, and have a feel they have a duty to make up for lost time.  The motorcycle felt that way, and when the light turned green, the rider leaned forward on his bike as he began clicking through the gears. We were neck and neck for about three to four seconds, then he was far ahead.  Far ahead until he came up to the Massachusetts State Police barracks on 20 just as a State Police cruise was pulling out onto the road.  They came up beside each other at precisely the same moment.

Now, what happened next was remarkable.

What words the motorcycle rider was uttering at that exact moment are lost to the wind, but I think I know what they may have been.  The motorcycle slowed.  The cruiser slowed to the speed limit, and the motorcycle slowed further until they had matched speeds at the posted speed limit like earth bound Blue Angels.

And, there they stayed.  Together, side by side, the cruiser setting the pace, and the motorcycle not daring to slice the wind any faster.  The action was subtle, but the act was not, and was received, and understood by the motorcyclist immediately.

They rode together under I-84, and further eastbound on Route 20.  Although we were a few car lengths behind them, we understood the message as well.  The trooper was teaching without ticketing, and his lesson was being very effective.  The motorcyclist was sitting more upright on his bike, not leaning in to the wind as he had been, a sign that he understood, and was complying.

At the XtraMart, the cruiser turned into the driveway, and the motorcyclist continued on.  He remained at the same speed he had paced with the trooper.  I know what words he mouthed when the cruiser turned off:  Thank you.

The State trooper had decided to be teacher a few minutes before, and taught a lesson about obeying the posted speed limit, but not by pulling the motorcyclist over, and writing out a citation.  He instead chose a better way.  He demonstrated that the speed limit was not only for the civilian motorists, but for him as well.  Demonstrations can be much more effective than bookwork.   And, when the lesson had been taught, and the teacher felt coinfident that it had been understood, he allowed the student to take the lesson home.

We followed the motorcycle further up Route 20, and into Hobbs Brook Plaza.  At no time did his speed reach beyond the posted speed.

Obviously, the lesson was taught well, and learned.  The next step may be the hardest, and that's retention.  I hope it is retained.  Not many homework assignments can actually save ones life.  This one can.

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