Like all of your better hypocrites, I nodded knowingly as the instructors told a coeducational room full of young folk with feeble beard stubble and excessive eye makeup how a car traveling 60 mph will go 88 feet in the second you've taken your eyes off the road. And to back it up, they showed a scary film. Can I say that the cautionary video genre has gotten better since the 1950s scare strips with the fake severed heads they showed us in drivers' education? Here, a state trooper choked up as he described coming upon a dead girl who'd hit a bridge abutment when responding to her sister's text, "Where R U?" A severely brain-injured young man explained how his life had been virtually ruined when his friend crashed while texting "Yeah." Another fellow killed a man on a bicycle while texting "LOL." He'll never forgive himself. When the film ended, Jacy Good -- a twenty-four-year-old who suffered traumatic brain injuries and lost her parents when a cell-phone user sailed through a red light, causing a tractor trailer to hit her family's car head-on -- spoke. With her lasting injuries, it was all she could do, she explained -- tell people the truth. Don't believe the industry: Hands-free phones are no better. If you're driving, drive.
Uniting all these tragic moments: the complete banality of the transmissions and the total worthlessness of the effort compared with the tragic consequences. And suddenly, I realized that this could be me. Like millions of my countrymen, I'd become convinced that I could safely operate a motor vehicle while communicating with the outside world -- thus fulfilling my duty as a good worker/consumer sheep -- and entertaining myself with an increasingly complex array of listening possibilities.
So right then and there I went cold turkey. No more calls, no more texts when driving. I'd become an addict. It's been a week now. And like a recovering alcoholic, I'm taking it one missed call and one unanswered text message at a time. Please call back.