He was sitting at a stop sign. He looked to be about 16 or 17 years old. He had the ear bud from an iPod in one ear and was holding a cell phone up to the other ear and bouncing his head in time to some unseen cadence.
I wanted to get out of my car and tell him to pay attention to his driving. I wanted to tell him his life is way too valuable to be taking such chances with it. I wanted to tell him sometimes people get hurt, even killed. I wanted to tell him that whoever was on the other end of the cell phone could wait until he parked his car. I wanted to tell him that, believe it or not, we used to have to wait until we were in a building or a phone booth and give telephone calls our undivided attention.
I knew the effects as I was rear ended at a stop light by a girl on a cell phone. The accident took a couple of years out of my life and the residual effects will be felt forever. Texting is now the number one cause of accidents among young people. The “it will only take a second mentality” has ended many lives and caused an unbelievable amount of grief for families left behind to mourn or pick up the tab for an accident.
A professor giving a lecture at a conference I attended asked “how many people are thinking about home or work right at this moment?” Several people raised their hands. “How many people wish they were somewhere else?” More people raised their hands. Then he said “Wherever your mind is, go there. Because if you’re not here and you’re not there then you’re not anywhere. People texting or talking while driving aren’t anywhere.
Cell phones are a wonderful invention I can’t imagine getting along without mine. Using a cell phone or an iPod while driving really is courting disaster. Even earphones divert your attention from the important task of paying attention. Parents, you want your kids to be safe, talk to them. Pull off the road if you must talk on the phone.
Think about messing up your own life or that of someone else just so you can save five minutes. Consider how ill-mannered and rude that person is walking down the aisle at a store yakking away in a loud voice or standing at the check-out counter doing hand signals to the cashier while talking to someone not there, or how uncouth. Especially repugnant is the man, I watched, sitting in the restaurant talking a blue streak while his companion eyed her food and ate in silence. He is certainly telling her where she is on his priority list. And there is the mother who drives and talks on the cell phone, with children in the car; the person at a party who talks in a voice loud enough for all to hear or the cell phone that rings in church. How is it cell phones have given us a license to be careless, thoughtless, ill-mannered, and actually endanger other people’s lives. What ever happened to relationship? Does being able to connect with the whole world mean we aren’t really connecting with anyone? Some people can’t stand to be alone even in their car.
Most people don’t really mean to hurt others, they are controlled by a force they do not understand that force is fear and ego (as in I am so important). “If the phone rings and I do not answer it I will miss out” or “I am indispensable,” “My time is valuable,” or worse “I am not hurting anyone”. Think about it why else would you let yourself succumb to the demands of something so small and cold.
Test yourself don’t answer and check the feelings that go with letting it ring. The person you are with, in the restaurant, is important enough to deserve your full attention or don’t waste their time. “Keep your mind where your butt is” don’t be owned by that instrument of convenience and fear. You might learn something about yourself and you can actually lessen your stress level by 50%.