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speed bump

If I could only talk, I could tell some exciting stories.

For starters, many people think of me as a nuisance. No, I’m not a politician, journalist or lawyer. And, no, I don’t write parking tickets or tell you why you should join my religion and how I’ll promise you bliss in this life or the next one.

I’m much closer to earth. In fact, you could say that I’m closer to earth than almost everyone.

You see, I’m a speed bump. Now, hold on, I’m not some metaphor, like the layers of an onion. Don’t you hate how onions have become the metaphor of choice for complicated stories?

I’m a mound-over-a-road speed bump, designed to force cars racing through school areas, regions filled with small children playing on and around streets, and people approaching dangerous curves to slow down.

Kids don’t start hating me, just as they don’t start hating most things. In fact, small children often enjoy the miniature carnival ride I provide when their parents roll over me during a stroll. Sometimes, parents and children make excited noises as they approach, with their voices rising and falling as they reach the top of my back and then come back down.

As children get older, they like to ride their bicycles, skateboards, hover boards and scooters over me, often at high speeds, as they hope to catch some air. I’m like a skateboarding park with training wheels for children who haven’t graduated to more advanced, and dangerous, versions of high-speed obstacle courses.

Bus drivers sometimes use me to distract a raucous collection of children who are eager to get home. In fact, one of my speed bump friends on Main Street in Setauket described how kids at the back of the bus bounced up and down on their seats, hoping to reach my friend at exactly the right time so that the force of the bump caused them to launch into the air.

But then, as they get older, some kids find me as frustrating as their parents do. They want to go faster, because they’re late to meet friends, need to get to a job interview, or can’t be bothered looking at signs on the side of the road that introduce me. They sometimes call me a speed bump, speed hump or even a speed cushion.

They reach me at speeds that are dangerous for a car’s alignment, axle or wheels. The ones that race too quickly over me often shout something unpleasant in my general direction, especially if they hear a crunch or a crack in the car below them.

But, you see, more often than not, that means I’ve accomplished my goal. If they remember to slow down next time, they will protect their cars and, more importantly, the people who live, walk, work and, best of all, play in the area.

They may not think of the younger versions of themselves, or about their own children, as they slow down, but I don’t care. I’m not there to protect their car or to help them get somewhere more rapidly.

If they choose another route — maybe one that involves a highway — I’ve also gotten them away from local roads. Speed bumps like me serve a purpose, whether or not people enjoy me and the stripes they sometimes put on me.

And, as you know, school will be starting in a few weeks. I know because I’ve seen some of the back-to-school signs that pass slowly over me on the way to the stores.

Maybe, some day, self-driving cars will automatically slow down through areas where people are out and about. Until that day comes, I’m here for you and your children.

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