Monday, February 2, 2015


My son is in broadcasting. Like many another working soul he commutes daily from leafy suburbia to an office in a major city.  He is also among those hardy souls who drive daily, a group I especially admire. In my day we commuted by train where each of us had our very own seat location, much like an Episcopal church on the tracks. And we let the choo choo do the driving.

Radio and television run in the veins of our family. These media are very competitive, exceeded in my son's case only by the stress involved in highway driving to work and departing from there back to home again. As Charles the Younger navigates his long long trail a winding, highway danger lurks five-fold with inattentive drivers on cell phones. There for a while it all appeared to be a conspiracy against him. But it's not. More than one driver has rolled down the car window to bellow: “Get off the phone!”  It's a plot against all of us and the key word is “oblivious.”

Recently I had rare opportunity to observe a lot of this insanity firsthand when I was a front seat passenger in a car well-driven by a friend. Instead of focusing on bumpers and turn signals ahead (when drivers choose to use them) I had the luxury of observing what was going on all around our vehicle. It was an enlightening experience. Whether automobiling or walking, virtually everyone in sight was on a cell phone. There is no safety on the sidewalks either; not paying close attention to the “walk” signals is dangerous for sure. High noon when folks are going to or returning from restaurants is a particularly hazardous time. Still driving in a ton of steel is much more risky. We all know that and we also know that using a cell phone (let alone texting) while behind the wheel is risk-extreme.  Why do so many do it?  Because we are in our own little bubbles, in a word “oblivious” to the world around us.

The zenith of cell phone mania is found in and around supermarkets. We are pretty much used to endless chatter inside the market (“I’m in the vegetable aisle right now heading over to the pastry counter”) but the real challenge comes when conversations continue on the way back to the car. Pushing a cart while continuing a cell phone conversation is double jeopardy. Doing so while also balancing an $11 Starbucks is a medical trifecta.

Turn your cell phone off.  Call later when you are at your desk or back home. Nothing is worth losing you.

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