**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Nation In A Hurry
by [?]

In early days of steam navigation on the Mississippi, the river captains, it is said, had the playful habit, when pressed for time or enjoying a “spurt” with a rival, of running their engines with a darky seated on the safety-valve.

One’s first home impression after a season of lazy Continental travelling and visiting in somnolent English country houses, is that an emblematical Ethiopian should be quartered on our national arms.

Zola tells us in Nouvelle Campagne that his vivid impressions are all received during the first twenty-four hours in a new surrounding,-the mind, like a photographic film, quickly losing its sensibility.

This fleeting receptiveness makes returning Americans painfully conscious of nerves in the home atmosphere, and the headlong pace at which our compatriots are living.

The habit of laying such faults to the climate is but a poor excuse. Our grandparents and their parents lived peaceful lives beneath these same skies, undisturbed by the morbid influences that are supposed to key us to such a painful concert pitch.

There was an Indian summer languor in the air as we steamed up the bay last October, that apparently invited repose; yet no sooner had we set foot on our native dock, and taken one good whiff of home air, than all our acquired calm disappeared. People who ten days before would have sat (at a journey’s end) contentedly in a waiting-room, while their luggage was being sorted by leisurely officials, now hustle nervously about, nagging the custom-house officers and egging on the porters, as though the saving of the next half hour were the prime object of existence.

Considering how extravagant we Americans are in other ways it seems curious that we should be so economical of time! It was useless to struggle against the current, however, or to attempt to hold one’s self back. Before ten minutes on shore had passed, the old, familiar, unpleasant sensation of being in a hurry took possession of me! It was irresistible and all-pervading; from the movements of the crowds in the streets to the whistle of the harbor tugs, everything breathed of haste. The very dogs had apparently no time to loiter, but scurried about as though late for their engagements.

The transit from dock to hotel was like a visit to a new circle in the Inferno, where trains rumble eternally overhead, and cable cars glide and block around a pale-faced throng of the damned, who are forced, in expiation of their sins, to hasten forever toward an unreachable goal.

A curious curse has fallen upon our people; an “influence” is at work which forces us to attempt in an hour just twice as much as can be accomplished in sixty minutes. “Do as well as you can,” whispers the “influence,” “but do it quickly!” That motto might be engraved upon the fronts of our homes and business buildings.

It is on account of this new standard that rapidity in a transaction on the Street is appreciated more than correctness of detail. A broker to-day will take more credit for having received and executed an order for Chicago and returned an answer within six minutes, than for any amount of careful work. The order may have been ill executed and the details mixed, but there will have been celerity of execution to boast of

The young man who expects to succeed in business to-day must be a “hustler,” have a snap-shot style in conversation, patronize rapid transit vehicles, understand shorthand, and eat at “breathless breakfasts.”

Being taken recently to one of these establishments for “quick lunch,” as I believe the correct phrase is, to eat buckwheat cakes (and very good they were), I had an opportunity of studying the ways of the modern time-saving young man.

It is his habit upon entering to dash for the bill-of-fare, and give an order (if he is adroit enough to catch one of the maids on the fly) before removing either coat or hat. At least fifteen seconds may be economized in this way. Once seated, the luncher falls to on anything at hand; bread, cold slaw, crackers, or catsup. When the dish ordered arrives, he gets his fork into it as it appears over his shoulder, and has cleaned the plate before the sauce makes its appearance, so that is eaten by itself or with bread.