'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
THIS DISTRACTED DRIVER FINALLY TAKES ‘THE PLEDGE’
The other day I woke up and caught the tail end of a public service announcement on my clock radio. The guy said something like, “So take the pledge not to drive distracted anymore.”
I think that’s what he said. I’d been awake for no more than seven seconds, and if you think my brain is a little fuzzy in the middle of the day, you should see it only seven seconds removed from complete unconsciousness. (No, I take that back. You should not SEE my brain. That would be kind of bloody and gross. Just take my word for it: it’s fuzzy.)
So I think distracted driving was the message. But maybe he actually said, “So rake the hedge lot to five impacted Lenny Moore.” (Hey, at five-thirty plus seven seconds in the morning, that makes perfectly good sense to me.)
A few seconds later, when I became reasonably sure I was awake and not dreaming, I said to myself, “Whoa, that guy is talking about me.” (I mean me, not Lenny Moore.) You see, just the day before I heard this radio announcement, I was driving to a customer’s office. It was a nice sunny day and there was fairly light traffic on the road. It was the middle of the day—so my brain was relatively unfuzzy—and I was just driving along. Then I looked down and noticed on my multi-function cell phone that I had a new email message.
I must confess: yes, I do talk on my cell phone while driving, but only with a hands-free device. And yes, I do use my phone to check for new email messages, but I only glance at it to see who sent the message and what the subject is. I never read the entire email while driving. And even though my fancy cell phone has a full keyboard and Internet service, I never type on it or surf the Internet—mostly because the keys are so small I can’t even type or surf while sitting on my couch at home. So I’m certainly not going to attempt these activities in the car.
Anyway, as I cruised along at about 40 mph, I glanced down to see who sent the new email. Then I glanced up to view the road, where traffic was still light and the nearest car, a white minivan, was about a quarter-mile ahead of me. Then I glanced down again to see the subject of the email message. Then I glanced up again to view the road, where the white minivan was now at a complete stop, with its left turn signal on, about five feet in front of me. (OK, it was a bit more than five feet, but that’s what it seemed like when a gallon of adrenaline surged through my veins.) I hit the brakes and swerved, and just missed the minivan.
During my braking and swerving maneuver, my cell phone flew off my lap and landed on the floor on the passenger side of the car. For the rest of the journey—at 20 mph with both quivering hands clamped to the steering wheel and eyes straight ahead—I was glad the phone was out of reach.
By the time I got to my customer’s office, even though I had never heard of “The Pledge,” I had already taken the pledge. No more distracted driving for me. I promise.
If you call and I don’t answer, leave a message. I’ll call back very soon. From now on, I’m not using the cell phone while the car is moving—not even if Lenny Moore calls.
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