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Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:
In Boston, red lights, like car turn signals, are optional. Yellow lights mean pedal to the metal, baby, I’m coming through.
I can understand not using turn signals, because it’s difficult and dangerous to reach for that lever and turn on the signal light while one hand is already holding a cell phone. And everyone knows it’s dangerous to take both hands off the steering wheel.
One day, I’m stopped at this optional red light and get bored and decide to count the number of drivers going through the intersection talking on a cell phone. I stopped counting at 7 (out of ten). Does that mean 70% of the people had really good reasons and very important business to conduct while traveling at 40 to 50 miles an hour in a 3,000-pound tin can (the average weight of a small car), being propelled by explosive chemicals through an intersection surrounded by gas stations, stores, and homes?
One of the scariest things is to be stopped at the optional red light, look in the rearview mirror, and see a big pickup truck barreling up behind you. The driver is texting or talking on his phone, and doesn’t seem be aware that you’re stopped. Panic! Do you gun it through the red light and take the 30% chance you will make it, or ??? But he stops about 3 inches from your bumper as he realizes he’s driving a 7,000-pound pickup about to squash your 3,000-pound car.
On a train one day, a woman at the other end of the car was conducting business on her phone. She was loud enough to be clearly heard at the opposite end of the car and by everyone in between on a fairly crowded train that was not particularly quiet. So I sat there hearing her talking to her office. After one awfully long dissertation, she said “And just between you and me….” Duh, lady, you should have asked us not to listen. It is obvious that technology is distorting her reality and controlling her life. This woman had no notion that thirty or so people had no choice but to hear everything she was saying.
Sidewalks are also dangerous. How often have you been walking down a sidewalk, and some person walks straight at you, looking down and fumbling with a handheld communicator? To deal with this, I have devised, and will adopt, a stand-my-ground policy. I will stop where I am, and wait for the distracted walker to walk into me, and as they go splat to the concrete, I will yell that I’ve been attacked.
There are more thoughts about phones, boneheads, and other odd stuff at Rambling Harbor. Give a listen.