Teller of tales
Among my ‘jack of all trades,’ proficiencies, I have a commercial driver’s license (I’ve driven everything from school busses to big rigs to Caterpillar equipment). And to a person, everytime I see a car meander across a white or yellow line, I can see from my perch on high, a phone is in their hand and eyes are down, not on the road.
Too many people have been killed by distracted drivers. Time to shame them. Have I ever checked my phone while driving? Not since cell/mobile phones first became a ‘thing.’ Christ, when has a message ever been so important that I’m willing to hop a sidewalk and run over children or neglect to brake? Being a ‘true’ commercial driver (there are plenty of imposters) means taking driving seriously. It means making safety priority #1. Even doing this, when one puts in the miles I do, mistakes are made. By others and by me. But never because I’m distracted. Never because I’m not paying attention. Only because I’m human, and even at my highest performance, I’m imperfect.
A good friend of mine is a commercial pilot. She tells me the most dangerous part of her job is driving from home to the airport and back. In the air, she’s dealing with professionals. The first time I drove in England, on the left side of the road, it was heaven. Sure, a right turn is a left turn (as in, the dangerous kind) but 1) the bar to operate a vehicle anywhere in Europe is much higher than in the US, 2) nearly everyone follows the actual rules of the road, including passing in the passing lane then getting the hell out of the way (back to the slow lane) and 3) traffic moves like a symphony, with few to no @ss-holes making ‘buckaroo’ moves or clogging up the fast lane. When everyone participates in the proper flow of traffic, driving is joyful.
I’d like us to shame distracted drivers, especially, phone-distracted drivers. Is your baby crying in the back seat? I have a measure of sympathy for that. Still, can’t you find a parking lot, off ramp, or shoulder on which to address it? Is your baby crowning as you drive? Ok, call 911. Did you see a life threatening crash? Probably worth calling it in. But each time you interact with your phone, you’re not only risking your life—your problem, not my concern—but your risking the lives of someone’s child, mother, lover, friend…maybe even the very the person who can turn around another personkind’s fallibilities or clean our air or clear our oceans of gobs of plastic.
It’s so easy (and selfish) to do whatever you want, until it’s not. Until YOU are the one responsible for another’s death or wheelchair confinement or inability to think or have children. THEN it’s real. But then, it’s too late. Dumb-asses learn only from their own mistakes. Wiser folks are able to garner wisdom from observing the mistakes of others.
You needn’t kill, cripple, or take the intellect of another before you choose to better yourself. Avoid catastrophes. Instead, seek the wisdom of others to make better decisions. Maybe you’ll spare a life. If you can make this commitment, so can others. In turn, maybe one of those wise-ups won’t kill your mom, your lover, or you.
We live in the fricking day of Uber and Lyft. There’s no reason, aside from ignorant pride, to risk the lives of others – be it death by phone, fatigue, booze, selfishness, or not wanting to be late. Screw you. Leave 10 minutes earlier so you’re not making up time on the road. It may be your best friend who doesn’t have to attend his own wife’s premature funeral.
It’s so little to ask. We all perceive ourselves as caring and responsible. How hard is it to pull into a McDonald’s parking lot to check on a loved one by phone instead of selfisheshly risking others to read an f-ing incoming text message—or god forbid try to send one.
If you see someone focused on ‘phoning’ when they should be focused on driving. Honk at them. Hold it down long and hard. Let those around you do the same. It’s a code to the conscientious drivers out there—watch out for this one. If they’re checking their crotch phone, honk. Shame them. Maybe, when encircled by trumpets of car horns, they’ll be reminded that 90 seconds in a parking lot could (not only allow them to fully focus on their conversation, but) save the life of a mother, son, daughter, or grandparent…or maybe even themselves.