Driven to distraction

Thelma and Louise. Updated.

Thelma and Louise. Updated.

It has been too long since I blogged about driving. I must have been distracted. Well, no more. Hang on. I’m putting it in “L” for “Lunge.” (Like dad used to say.)

You want to kill me? I want to kill you? Fine. We’re gonna settle this once and for all the way nature intended. We’re gonna settle it on the streets. Let’s race.

Psst. Hey, buddy. Wanna buy a road-based transportation system? This baby is state-of-the-art. It’s the absolute finest this planet has to offer. And it only kills +32,000 people per year and injures over two million more. And that’s in the United States alone.

Wow. That does sound great. I’ll take it!

Excuse me. I have to take this call. Okay, I’m back. What were we talking about again? Look out! We’re about to hit that … uh oh.

90 percent of drivers rate their own driving skill as “above average.” They can’t all be right, can they? It turns out that 99.9% of the 90% are delusional idiots.

I, however, can successfully claim to be among the best of the best on the road. I am automotive elite. No, I’m not bragging. It’s not bragging when it’s a fact. And what makes me so special? Only I have the arcane knowledge of the ancients that serves me in the field of battle when I’m driving a car.

Because I like you, I’ll tell you what it is. I’m even going to tell you for free even though this simple trick is worth millions. The arcane secret of being the best in a car is … hey, where are you going? I’m unloading guru wisdom here. Eyes on me.

Pay attention!

Did you see it? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress your phone?

If you are clever, you’ll note I already let the cat out of the bag. My secret technique to being the best driver everywhere I go is just that simple. I pay attention. To what I’m doing. I pay homage to the task of driving.

I don’t, for example, try to milk my time behind the wheel into an orgiastic multitasking feast for the senses. I don’t text or talk on the phone (obviously) but I also don’t do other mundane things like fiddle with a kid in a car seat, break up sibling fisticuffs in the back seat, fold laundry, make a sandwich, do stand up comedy, solve the New York Times crossword puzzle, meditate, adorn myself with makeup, use the rear view to check my teeth for parsley or make a mix tape with the overly-powered in-dash entertainment system.

I don’t do any of those things.

If you want avoid being a hazard to others, or, short of that, simply give a crap about your own welfare, you’ll should be willing to give the act of driving all of your attention, not just a small slice of an already overly-extended weak ass brain. Driving should be a singular experience.

Americans are not the happiest people on Earth. Even though we consume one-third of the world’s energy and produce one-third of the trash. Unbelievable, right?

What is it about paying attention that improves driving? Mindfulness. And what is it that no American has got? Mindfulness. Perhaps that has something to do with our inability to achieve erections lasting four hours or more life-affirming happiness? Oh, wait. There’s a drug for that.

What if the same concept that made us drive better also enhanced our lives by making us happier people? Mindfulness. Living in the now. Paying attention to your driving because you actually care about not hurting other people. Enjoying an experience rather than recording it to share on Vine.

What if.

We are very much a distracted people. At every turn shiny objects fight valiantly to grab our attention. If they can make us look for just a single second that’s considered a big win in the subliminally-implant-a-consumption-message game.

Stop and smell the roses? No way. But we’re willing to consider it if we don’t have to slow down and only if we’re doing something else at the same time. That way we can socially brag about doing something unusual. “Look at me enjoying those roses. LOL! #selfie.”

Just how distracted are we? It is no exaggeration to say it has literally become a matter of life and death. This week a man drove himself to work and “forgot” to drop off his infant child at the babysitter’s. He drove to work and left the baby strapped in a seat in a car. Tragically, at the end of 79 degree day when he discovered the mistake, it was already too late. (The Modesto Bee.)

It turns out the rest of us (except me) are out there driving with a similar level of distraction. Those stats just don’t happen on their own, people. The NHTSA doesn’t break it down, but I’ll bet true “acts of God” account for less than one-tenth of one percent of all accidents. The rest, in one way or another, represent driver error. In driver parlance these accidents are known as “preventable.”

So they went a made a law (your mileage may vary) that prohibits driving with a fucking cell phone glued to your face. Technically speaking, anyone who continues to do so is a “criminal.” When I see this going on, like in every single car that I see, I can’t help but wonder: Who the fuck are you and why do you care so little about other people? Why are you literally traveling about, going to and fro in your petty existence, shitting on the safety of others?

Standing at the end of my driveway I watched my neighbor drive home the other night. She whizzed by a little too fast for a residential street. A cell phone was pressed against her face and she was in the act of some animated discussion. She pulled into her drive and leaned on the horn a few times. Apparently that was a signal of some sort. Probably that she’s too lazy to get off her fat ass and knock. That would actually be considerate, right? Criminal! Guilty.

At the coffee stand, my wife were enjoying some overpriced trendy beverages. My wife thought the “barista” was kind of cute. What a nice, friendly person, we thought. Then she went off duty. A few seconds later she pulls out in her car. The phone against her face, already deep in an obviously important conversation. If it was that important, I wondered, why couldn’t her driving have waited just a few more seconds? So sad. And we liked her, too. Criminal! Guilty.

Don’t blame me. I don’t make the law. Although, if I could, I would have made this one and more. So now the police are saying, “Distracted driving is still a problem. We’re going to do a sting.”

Sometimes it’s almost like the universe actually listens to me. Those moments, admittedly, are rare. So here I am yelling, “For the win!” I hope they catch a lot of criminals. Meanwhile, I’m still the best on the road. I doubt a little sting action is going to change that.

What do you think? What more is there to say when the individuals in a group aren’t willing to make the tiniest accommodation for the safety of others? Stay off the phone for five whole minutes? Sorry. That is the one thing I cannot do.

BTW, if you want to be thoroughly depressed, go to Google News and search simply for “distracted.” The stories are there for anyone willing to listen. Stop and smell those roses!

4 responses

  1. Sadly, it just takes a moment of looking away for all hell to break loose.

    Like

  2. True event. The other day I saw a women USING AN iPad WHILE DRIVING ON A 3-LANE ROAD. I am amazed that there aren’t MORE accidents.

    Like

    1. Everyone feels bad after the shit goes sideways. We don’t need more people like that. To me they are worth a bucket of dead hair. If only a few of us were able to translate our actions into possible future consequences this society might have been worth saving. I don’t mind when they take themselves out. It’s when they take innocent victims with them when I really get pissed.

      Like

      1. Exactly — what I really wanted to do was honk, scare the shit out of this woman and scream “GET OFF YOUR F@&%ING TABLET, YOU MORON!” but I figured if I did that, she really might swerve and hit someone/thing.

        Like

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