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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I was recently driving on a busy street near my home. I was first in line at a red light, with a stream of traffic lined up behind me.  The light changed and I moved off. The area was residential with a 30 mph speed limit.

I had yet to reach that speed when up ahead a man with a dog on a leash, walked briskly across the street. Crossing from left to right, looking straight ahead, cell phone pressed to his right ear, deep in conversation, seemingly oblivious to me and the rest of the approaching traffic.

I could have laid on the car horn, but instead I slowed down, estimating that at our current respective speeds, he would be safely across the street by the time I drew level, and we could both be on our separate ways.

I was feeling good about myself. I was driving responsibly. Sure he was jay walking, this was not a pedestrian crossing. But, share the road with a fellow traveler, and all that good stuff. My slowing in the interest of his safety was the right thing to do.

But suddenly the man stopped and turned to face me, I had to brake hard and come to a complete stop. This was not a sudden realization “I am in danger,” stop. This was a deliberate.

Hands thrown outwards, palms out, eyes and mouth open with a fake dumb expression. The universal body language we all know to mean, “What the Fuck?” I wanted to say, "Hey, I'm the one paying attention. I'm the one not talking on my phone. Now suddenly, I'm the bad guy..... Really!"

He stood there for a moment, glaring at me through my windshield, long enough to make his point. (Whatever that was.) I couldn't see his dog's expression, he was out of view below dashboard level. Maybe he was doing a canine WTF too. I just threw my hands up and shook my head, as if to say, “I give up, I thought I was doing the right thing.”

On the rest of my drive home, I noticed almost every pedestrian I saw had a phone to their ear. What has become of our society that everyone has to be on the phone every waking moment, to the extent they can’t take it away from their ear for a brief moment to cross a busy street safely?


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Reader Comments (13)

It's not much of a Society when so many of the people are so self absorbed.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTonyP

If not on the phone, just staring at it while walking.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterkamoteQ

I've been thinking about the cellphone and other societal trends for a long time. My thoughts on this are not yet settled (these items have some really nice advantages, but they come with some disadvantages as well).

My premise is that most modern trends tend to encourage people to isolate themselves from their immediate environment. Cellphones are just the latest item in a long stream of potentially isolationist tech. How often have you seen people in a room all looking at their cellphones instead of trying to engage with each other? If you go to a coffee shop, you'll probably see as many people on their laptops as you'll see people talking to each other.

Of course, the car, TV, radio and music players, the internet, etc....all these things are potentially amazing tools, and also potentially isolationist --- depending on how they're used.

One of the side-effects of this isolationism is that people do seem to become focused on their own convenience over everything else. Some of them probably consider it to be their right to saunter into a road while talking (or worse, texting) on their phones.

I'm no luddite. I love tech. Yesterday, I was trying to debug some C++ code while my daughter was trying to get me to take her somewhere to play. My initial reaction was to snap and ask her to go play by herself. Then I caught myself, closed the laptop and took her fishing.

Guess which experience was more fulfilling.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterYohann M

Funny you should post this, I was riding me bike yesterday up a hill on a narrow two-lane street and a woman was WALKING down the hill towards me READING A BLOODY BOOK!!!! She would have walked right into me, had I not rang me BELL! She looked up and waved to me! Amazing Wonder what the book was about?

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

Dave. The only proper response to this guy would have been, "Do you always walk across the street with your head up your ass or is it just a part time hobby?"

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLynn Travers

We have a local restaurant that has a sign in the window NO INTERNET TRY TALKING TO EACH OTHER How many times do see a family sit down to eat and EVERYONE including Gran and the nipper, have their noses in a bloody cell phone

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

The problem being, of course, is that no matter how stupid or unaware the pedestrian may have been to have presented himself mid-street in front of traffic, if you should happen to strike him, you're the one going to jail and/or defending yourself in a P.I. (or wrongful death) lawsuit.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermike w.

I think the dog would probably been more careful crossing the street had it been alone.... When I go to yoga class there's much talk from the instructor about being present and in the moment, and many knowing nods of agreement from the class. Then, as soon as class is over, a large number of the students can be with their phones stuck to their ears. WTF indeed.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJC

Yeah, I'm "entitled" with my "electronic leash" and really I'm addicted to my leash. I cannot go five minutes without picking it up, staring to see if someone really wants to send me a message. In fact, I'm so addicted to my leash I can't perform at my job without constantly checking my "leash." My leash is more important to me than my family, spouse , friends or anything else. I can't live without my leash!!!!!!
Sadly this is what I see Dave. It's everywhere. Not race, gender or age specific.
To me life is too short to spend every waking moment "addicted" to some leash. In fact the telecommunications industry has admitted it uses "specific" software designed to keep idiots "addicted." It's as bad as any drug. Sad but true.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

It is the responsibility of those behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle to do what they can to avoid hitting morons in the middle of the street. So thank you, Dave, for setting a good example. Stupidity should not be a capital crime.

But if you hit a pedestrian while biking, the bike-haters come out. A few years ago, a pedestrian jaywalking on a winding local road was struck and killed by a cyclist who was going about 25 MPH. The local newspaper had to delete many of the posts in response, likely due to their vitriolic nature.

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon Blum

Wait 'til the phone gazers get into driverless cars!

We pedallers will be toast.

May 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPete Hummers

"Wait 'til the phone gazers get into driverless cars!

We pedallers will be toast."

Perhaps not.

Drivers nowadays have lost so many good habits. Will the iCars be more responsible on the road?

I have hope they will be. Could hardly be worse.

May 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTBR

If you have the stomach for it, google up the car's-eye video of the recent automated-Uber crash that killed a woman. She was walking a bike across a street, at night, not at an intersection, and on a section of road not lit by streetlights.The video shows her entering the headlights extremely suddenly, with no time for even a human driver to react. (Human vision may have perceived the lighting differently though).

Tons of outrage against Uber and automated cars, but I haven't heard anything about why this woman was crossing the street and walked right into the path of a moving car?

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

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