Going slow in the fast lane

October 11, 2007

I get really angry when I get behind a slow driver and people always tell me to calm down. They don’t get where the rage comes from. It comes from not being able to understand how someone can be so devoid of purpose or direction that they not only lack urgency in their own life, but they actively impede others who know where they want to go.

It seems to me that the worst thing you could ever say about someone is “You’re not just mediocre, you’re contagiously mediocre.” We all have problems, areas where we are objectively bad at things, but to drag others down–either via obliviousness or malice–is about the most evil act one can engage in.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

55 responses to Going slow in the fast lane

  1. Ryan, get a grip buddy. Did you ever think that perhaps you need to slow down instead of demanding that the rest of the world speed up?

  2. Bingo! Thank you!

  3. Or maybe they just need to get the fuck out of the way? No one said anything about them speeding up.

  4. Granted, if the person is driving painfully slow it’s annoying, but if you let something as common as bad driving (esp living in LA) get to you, you’ll waste tons of time and energy.

  5. Make a phone call, listen to an audio book, pass them on the shoudler, run them off the road.Just stop bitching. Do you need to tape Marcus Aurelius quotes to your dashboard?

  6. If you ski, snowboard or longboard, you realize pretty quickly that most people have their own level of speed at which they’re comfortable. The people V-planing down the hill should also grasp that they should travel with predictable lines, not hog the whole hill and let the faster people zip by without mishap. So why isn’t this applied on the highway? Because the costs of crashing into someone on skis and teaching them a lesson are usually much lower than crashing into someone in 2,000 pound vehicles.

    The above paragraph just made me realize that a massive amount of people have trouble transferring skills learned from one situation to another. I think this – more than the attitude of “passable standards” – is responsible for the soon-to-be outdated workers.

  7. Oh man, those people are the absolute worst.

    For those of you that are questioning why I get upset about these things, I’d ask: Do you value your time? Do you enjoy letting other people waste it? I don’t. I don’t let it ruin my day or prevent me from functioning, but it is a problem that needs a SOLUTION, not a coping mechanism.

  8. I’m completely with you on this one, Ryan. I’m convinced that most of these people do it on purpose. They have pathetic lives with no place to go so they insist on interfering with the lives of others. I frequently encounter someone driving in the left lane, under the speed limit, who then either speeds up or cuts you off if you try to pass them on the right. WTF? What is mentally going on in their heads? They’re clearly out looking for conflict. Why are they so belligerent simply because I, you know, want to actually drive the posted speed and not 10 mph below it? I guess the world is supposed to line up behind them and be constrained to whatever they decide is the correct speed. Screw everyone else on the road, the posted speed limit, laws against impeding traffic, etc..

  9. I wanted to clarify that I agree 100% with you, Ryan. I was thanking you for putting my exact sentiments into words.

  10. You’re a fucking idiot Karl…

    Ryan, if I were a woman I’d suck your dick for saying something so brilliant!

  11. You’d suck his dick anyway.

  12. I agree 110%. Driving slow in the fast lane should be punishable by death. We’re living in a messed up world where if you shot and killed a stupid old person driving 50 in the left lane dragging the rest of us down, you’d be arrested instead of celebrated as a hero. Be a hero, Ryan.

  13. Uh oh. Looks like you’ve raised the ire of the ever annoyed Vee of Violent Acres (who is apparently a fan of Rudius sites, in that she’s also ranted about Tucker in the past.)

    Congratulations Ryan, you’ve made it to the “big time” blogging.

  14. It is called the speed limit for a reason! It’s the LIMIT. Unless there is a sign that is posted, stating the speed minimum, then shut your fucking mouth. You are going nowhere, anyhow.

    You are going to die in a fiery car crash with the sort of attitude that you have adopted towards driving.

    How many tickets for speeding do you have?

    There is a reason young men have extremely high insurance rates. They never plan to get to work on time (they never plan for traffic delays) and they love to put other people in danger with their speeding.

    I love how you said that you always know where you are going and thus other people should not get in your way (as though the world revolves around you). Are you constantly, significantly busy during your entire day? I thought you had time to write a BLOG about your selfish life. Stop blogging, start leaving EARLY.

  15. Cry more. Remember the Holocaust? THAT was a problem. Rwandan genocide? Problem. Millions dying needlessly to AIDS and bombs and floods and earthquakes? Problem. Your little delay in your little car? Not a problem. Get over yourself.

  16. So you claim Fight Club is one of your favorite books? Do you remember the passage where the narrator is going down the freeway and can’t believe that a million strangers HATE his guts because he is not going beyond the speed limit?

  17. You know what makes me angry? People calling it the “fast lane.” It’s a *passing* lane, and if you people would call it that maybe the slowpokes would understand why everyone’s better off if they keep right.

  18. BAWWWW. Poor baby.

  19. I know exactly the feeling man. FUCK slow drivers! Get the fuck out of the fast lane and learn how the freeway works. That lane is for crazy people like me to drive fast in.

  20. I will purposely go slow if someone is tailgating me. Consider it my lesson to all of you who think it’s acceptable to try and rush me on the road, when I’m clearly not comfortable going your insane speeds on the highway. In my opinion, I should not have to go 20mph above the posted legal speed limit to satisfy people. Consider it a blessing if I even go 10mph above the posted limited for you Ryan. Go check out Violent Acres (www.violentacres.com) there Ryan, I think you’ll see that V has some decent advise for your road rage.

  21. http://www.violentacres.com/archives/267/grow-the-fuck-up-ryan-holiday

    I think she makes a better point then you do.

    Someone driving slow in the fast lane is not the end of the world.

    You Emo.

  22. Maybe you could get away with driving faster if you plastered “WAAAAAAAAAAAAA-MBULANCE” on the side of your car.

  23. It’s not the minor delay that is frustrating. It’s being surrounded by countless mouth-breathing morons that is frustrating. Sometimes I drive slow. Sometimes I drive fast. I always strive to drive considerately.

  24. Taking a look on both genders’ tendency in these comments makes me kind of sad. Why? Because the idea, that sexual discrimination might’ve been justified all the time creeps up to me, and bugs my mind with some questions…

    1) I can only say that for sure about Germany (where I live), but isn’t there more thought behind that second lane than just to have more room on the street? Wasn’t there some system to that, like maybe that you’re supposed to stay on the right, unless you want to get past someone? And like it was up to me, to teach someone else a lesson about my personal views on how traffic should work instead!

    2) What is even more important; don’t you people recognize an IMAGERY, used to get an abstract point across, when it slaps you in the face? Is it so hard to see that this is just about a system that is designed to fit everyones needs, interests and possibilitys and that could actually work that way, if there weren’t some people who constantly refuse to accomodate and hence ruin it for everyone. THESE people are truly selfish, not those who seek to tap their full potential.

    Only point where I’d be more cautious is talking about ‘most evil’ in connection with obliviousness, for next comes disability and I guess we can see where this is going.

    Well, just my 2 cent.

  25. FINALLY!!! someone who feels my pain.

    im sick of people who cannot drive. if you’re going to go slow, go in the slow lane, NOT the fast lane or i will go around you and cut you off.

    don’t get angry about it, why not actually FOLLOW rules and go fast in the fast lane, or get the fuck out.

  26. Totally on your side, Ryan. I’m surprised so many people are bitching at you about it. I think you’re right that people need to learn how to drive properly and that the left lane is for PASSING, not sitting in. I get mad too, trust me.

  27. Speaking to the issue rather than the metaphor: “You’re not just mediocre, you’re contagiously mediocre.”

    I think you’re a bit unclear on the concept of both greatness and mediocrity.

    To use a metaphor of my own, great engineers do amazing things with mediocre materials, little money and limited resources. Mediocre people whine that they’d be great if only everyone would get out of their way. Thanks for my USRDA of irony, lad.

    Consider Hemingway’s ‘novel’:

    For sale: baby shoes, never worn

    No one’s in your way but you, baby.


  28. I’ve always been of the opinion that blocking traffic by coasting in the passing lane was more dangerous than driving fast.

    People all drive at varying speeds, by blocking the passing lane, cars get bunched up, and if something goes wrong (like a deer jumps out in the road), many cars get messed up as opposed to maybe just one or two. Simply driving fast causes few accidents. I think I read somewhere that a study conducted in the UK concluded that only about 3% of accidents were a result of excessive speed.

    Bottom line, one car going 15 over the limit isn’t nearly as dangerous as a clusterfuck of 20 cars goin down the highway.

  29. I get really angry when I’m trying to get around a really slow truck on the interstate and have to get in the fast lane to do it, because I know some jackass is going to refuse to slow down, forcing me to accelerate to 95 mph in 2 seconds or less.

    Seriously, it’s not worth getting angry over, much less blogging about.

  30. So what is the big deal? Pass someone in the other lane. Oh wait, you can’t, because traffic is so busy? Then move out of L.A. to a place with good public transportation. Then read a book on the train. If traffic is so busy that you can’t pass someone (it doesn’t matter what lane you are in) then that means you are living in an overcrowded world. There is a place for people who drive fast, adhere to the speed limit, and drive a (few) miles under the limit. And yes, there is ALSO a place for old people who are scared to drive the speed limit anymore (the DMV still renews their licenses right?) Maybe you should campaign to revoke old people licenses. The DMV is too lenient. But those old people, remember, once loved to speed too. Now that can’t. This is what happened to my boyfriend’s father. The man still needs to drive around to the grocery store and shit once in a while though. So sorry. I guess he should just be shot.

  31. How long can they possibly slow you down for? There are two lanes, right? It’s pretty much inevitable that one lane travels faster than the other, whichever lane that happens to be. So get in the other lane, overtake the slow car and try not to stress about what you would have done with that 15 extra seconds it took you to pass.

  32. My feeling on this issue isn’t so much the slow driver, but the person in general who feels that it is their right to take as much time as they want to regardless of the fact that they are holding up someone else.

    This would apply to 1) the unnecessarily slow driver mentioned above; 2) the person at the drive-thru who orders for a dozen people and then has to meticulously check through every item to make sure it’s correct WHILE THEY ARE STILL AT THE WINDOW (hint: go to a parking space and do it rather than holding up other people); 3) the person who waits patiently at a left turn in spite of having the “advanced green” signal, thus holding up traffic because they are too absorbed in something OTHER than driving to pay attention; 4) the person who takes 50 items in the grocery store to the express check-out which is designed for less than 10 items per customer. I’m sure you can come up with other examples.

    Rather than arguing that the world revolves around the person who is *speeding*, how about chastising the person who is going *too slow* and applying the same logic? But of course I’m sure that the arrogant, self-righteous types are too focused on the speck in their fellows’ eyes to see the log in their own.

  33. True, excessive speed doesn’t cause more accidents, only more fatal ones. It is the fatality rate they care about. If you crash at 100 km/h you might live with an airbag etc. If you crash at 200 km/h you won’t survive even with an airbag.

  34. I’m going to assume since this guy lives in the LA basin that the complaint is about CA freeways. CA driving laws are a bit different than those in other states. The left lanes are not “passing lanes”. We call them the fast lanes because they are intended for faster moving traffic. The right lane(s) are for slower traffic like semi-trucks which have a lower speed limit than passenger vehicles. Passing lanes in CA are short lanes (basically extended turnouts) that exist intermittantly on 2-lane highways to give a safe way to pass slow vehicles other than going head-on with the traffic in the other direction. You can pass to either the right or the left in CA as well, so there’s no reason you can’t get around a slow car in the fast line by popping down a lane and around it. If the next lane is equally slow, then it isn’t just a slow car; it’s a clogged freeway and you’re stuck going slow regardless of what lane you’re in.

    I just don’t see why you’re pissed. Either pass the guy on the right and leave him in the dust or accept that the freeway is clogged and wait it out. If you can’t manage to hold it in the 30 seconds it takes to pass on the right, maybe you need a few anger management classes. And if you don’t see the futility in being pissed at a clogged freeway, well, that’s way beyond the scope of a blog post.

  35. It’s reasoning like this which forces me to own an SUV for my own peace of mind. Enjoy your outrageous insurance rates.

  36. Christian, but haven’t you heard, the Geico gecko says CA has had such good drivers that they’re lowering our insurance rates… it’s on TV, it must be true right?

  37. Some of you need to read more closely. I’m pretty sure Ryan doesn’t get angry at clogged traffic in the same way he gets angry at a slow driver in the fast lane, oblivious to the pile-up forming as a result.

    He’s not suggesting that everybody needs to drive his speed on the freeway. Seems to me he’s pointing out that it’s rude to be inconsiderate of the other drivers by clogging up traffic when you could easily move over to let faster drivers pass. Regardless of whether everybody on the road is obeying the speed limit, for safety’s sake, move out of the way for drivers who want to go faster than you. It’s that simple.

  38. If I’m on the freeway doing about 75-80mph, and the posted speed limit is 55 through the city, and some asshole is on my tail, am I going too slow? The asshole behind me would think so. The police would be willing to hand me a speeding ticket if they caught me at that speed.

    Perhaps if you had posted some perspective about the situation, like what speed you were going, what speed the “slowpoke” was going, and what the posted speed limit (as in, maximum allowable speed by law) was, then either 1 of 2 things would happen: the entire internets would be after the slowpoke to make sure they never drive slow again, or you would be getting absolutely no sympathy. As it is, I have no sympathy for you since I can only assume that you are the fucktard crawling up my ass when I am already speeding.

  39. Look at how many assholes think it’s acceptable to go SLOWER because they think they’re being tailgated. Nevermind the fact that these people are in the fast lane. A previous commenter said something about “perspective.” Fuck you.

    This is why most people are fucking annoying.

  40. This is VERY dangerous way of thinking and it leads much further if not stopped immediately. In short, you hate someone who is behaving not as you suppose them to. They are fucking annoying drivers, fucking stupid collegues and you are the right man to fix the situation. Go get a shotgun, you’ll need it later. Take note man: if they violate some rules there are some police cars to get em. If they dont – leave them “as is”. Consider changing lane, highway, town, or maybe kill yourself. Everyone got the right to live as he/she wants as long is it doesnt cross the law. Period.

    Because you don’t drive in Mother Russia, Mother Russia drives in you.

  41. FUCK YOU! All you slow driving pussies stating “the speed limit” and all the other excuses for being an asshole. Go get bent you fucking slow fuck faces and get the hell out of the left lane. I will out a damn shotgun down your throat and pull the trigger. FUCKTARDS

  42. Fuck you and your self-important-i-have-shit-to-do attitude. I hope someone slams their brakes on your tailgating ass and bursts your bubble of self-worth. Smoke crack and die. Otherwise, grow a bigger dick and learn to get on with your life. But whatever you do, please just stop bitching…

  43. Hi, I don’t know you or anything about you.

    I also don’t know why all these people hate you.

    I completely agree with your methods of thinking and wish death apon others who don’t.

    There is a fast and slow lane for a reason.

  44. I travel the speed limit. if you are one of those assholes that likes to pass anyone who isn’t traveling 90+ then fuck you asshole. you can try to pass me but i will just speed up to piss you off.

  45. Oh, right, your life is just sooooo important that EVERYONE should either go precisely your pace or get out of the way. /sarcasm.

    Honestly, “slow drivers” are probably not trying to impede you. Maybe they just don’t like doing 70 on a 50mph road? Or maybe they don’t feel that THEY should be the ones changing lanes when it’s YOU who wants to switch positions?

    You’re digging far too deeply into it. They aren’t thinking, “Oh, my life is so devoid of purpose that I’m just going to go slow to piss people with inflated egos off.” They’re probably thinking, “Oh my GOD why the hell does everyone have to go 10 or 20 over the speed limit? What is so IMPORTANT that they have to RISK DEATH to accomplish it just a little faster? GET OFF MY TAIL BUDDY, IT’S NOT WORTH IT.”

  46. Point #1…….the law states that if you are driving slower then the person behind you you MUST move over. If you don’t believe me than look at the signs on the side of the road every 3 miles on the highway that says slower drivers move right .

    #2…..The definition of selfishness is not doing what you want to do but making others do what you want to do. I don’t care if you want to drive 3 miles an hour on the highway just don’t do it in front of me. Move to the right.

  47. I actually have someone that I frequently get stuck behind on the way to work, I don’t know them, but they always drive at least 5 under. On top of this, they actually have the nerve to have a bumper sticker that says something like “relax, slow down, you’re not that important”

    Every time, I just want to scream at her that it isn’t that I am that important, its that I don’t want to waste any more time than I have to stuck behind her and her stupid sticker.

    Great post.

  48. This post is highly retarded. I also suspect that Violent Acre’s post is equally retarded which I will soon troll after I’m done with you.

    1. If there is a slow car in the fast lane and the right lane is free, pass the slow car instead of getting angry. So many people do it, we have actually adopted a “culture” where it’s acceptable for the “weavers” to change lanes and the slow people to just wait for the weavers (you) to pass. This is ESPECIALLY true if the driver sees that the fast driver (you) is more than 10 mph faster than them.

    2. If there is a slow car in the fast lane and the right lane is NOT free, well then it’s NOT THEIR FAULT is it? They can’t switch lanes and they don’t want to change speed very rapidly. So just wait for them to be able to change lanes.

    3. You’ll be surprised by HOW LITTLE TIME driving fast saves.

    4. Where I’m from, the acceptable rate of driving in the fast lane is 5-20 above the speed limit. Maybe you like to go 90 mph, but the “slow driver” going 75 mph is already going at an acceptably fast rate, and is undeniably allowed to remain in that lane as long as he needs to pass those slower moving cars on the right!

  49. A little late on this one – but I’ve been looking for a way to put into words the agonizing torment I feel when driving behind someone doing 35 in a 45 on a single lane road with no passing option (to take care of all the hypotheticals noted above). I work for a small company, and this also serves as a perfect metaphor for our company culture (lifers preferring the slow and traditional to the quick and efficient).

    On a more high-minded note, of all the world’s problems, it’s a wonder we’ve not yet solved traffic (or maybe it isn’t). I think there’s something to be said about the idea of constant friction our increasingly dense society creates – and the cultural and personal implications of that friction. It’s something I started to notice as I shuttled back and forth between NYC and Ohio on a weekly basis for work.

  50. The left lane is for passing not speeding. If someone is not passing another vehicle, yes, they need to move back to the right lane. But speeding is just as unforgivable as going to slow, both are dangerous. If you are feeling rage I recommend learning some self control, it feels amazing. My level of happiness has increased greatly since I learned to control my ego. Good luck.

  51. In 2007, Violent Acres wrote (in the midst of boasting about superior traffic):

    “I’d actually put money on this guy totally and completely self destructing in 5 years.”

    Violent Acres totally self-destructed by 2012, and 10 years later, Ryan Holiday is going stronger than ever.