A Piece of My Day

A Piece of Friday, 17 September 2010…(the Saturday edition)

Posted on: Friday, 17 September 2010

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Social study...

If you ever want to study society, sit in your car in the parking lot of a home improvement store.  That is just where I found myself yesterday, as I waited for a friend, who was running in quickly to look (in vain) for one thing.

See that cart in the middle of the photo? That was left there by a guy who walked out of the store with six large outdoor furniture cushions piled on top – he wheeled all this over to his car while talking on his phone. I watched him cram three of the cushions into the trunk of his small sedan, then shove the other three into the back seat – all while talking on his phone. He then got into his car, still on the phone, and drove off – leaving this cart (which was back by his trunk) wheeling around crazily for a minute, carried by the wind.

Hey – Dude on Phone – that’s dangerous, you know.

I was going to get out and go put the cart in the oh-so-convenient cart collector (which you’ll notice is helpfully about 12 feet away from where his cart ended up), but as I was pondering such an action, an enormous, diesel, super-duper-for-no-good-reason pickup truck almost side-swiped my car trying to get into what my Granny would’ve called “the Number One Spot” outside the store. He swooped in next to my car at a crazy speed for a parking lot, and given the fact that there are, you know, a fair amount of people and expensive stationary objects around, and pulled through into the open spot one row behind me.

The almost side-swiping occurrence happened two more times, to the point where I was seriously considering  moving my car to a less vulnerable place, when my friend pulled his van next to my car, watching carefully to make sure he didn’t side-swipe it. Thank God. Reason at last!

And with all that, plus a phone call of my own and taking this picture, I never made it over to move the cart.

Sorry, Universe.

The thing with our current obsession with always being in touch is that when we are on our phones, we are transported to some Other Place where this Other Person is, and we lose contact – at least a little, usually more – with the world which is actually in front of us.

I, like many others, began driving before cell phones. I’ve observed that since we started using cell phones while we drive, beyond all the safety considerations (which are numerous), there has also been a tremendous loss of common courtesy and common sense. We may pay attention to the road in front of us while we jabber away, but do we see the person’s blinker as they frantically try to get into our lane so they can exit safely? Do we see the person trying to pull out of a driveway? Or trying to merge into traffic? Often, our phones act as blinders to these situations, leaving us without the vision to extend politeness to another human being.

I, for one, find this development appalling (and not only in others – in myself, too). I firmly believe that our society functions best when we are courteous to each other, and our ability to extend courtesy to others only goes as far as we are paying attention to others.

I will say that ever since I got my new (touch screen) phone, I’m talking less in the car than I used to. This new phone is too difficult to manage safely while I drive, and maybe that’s a good thing. I’m not going to be hyper about it, but whenever possible, I will avoid talking and driving because I want to be able to pay attention…which makes me a better driver (and a better member of society) all the way around.

Peace – and attentiveness – be upon your day,

K

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