Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mistaken Identity with Cell Phones

Do I believe safety issues exist when drivers talk on the phone or text while driving? Oh, yeah.

Funny thing is, 97 per cent of Americans, in a recent poll, think the rest of you are dangerous. A majority, on the other hand, thought they personally were safe.

Not me, by golly. I wasn't polled, but I would be one of those saying, "I'm about as safe behind the wheel with a phone to my ear as I would be in rush hour traffic with three shots of Wild Turkey on an empty stomach."

So I always pull over, and if a pullover place isn't immediately available, I probably won't answer before the phone quits ringing. Which creates a distraction of its own. After trying several times to snag it out of my purse while driving a stick shift in rush hour stop'n'go a few years ago, I wisely decided not even to try till I was safely stopped. Even though my current vehicle is automatic.

Oh, I have coordination, of sorts. I can walk and chew gum. The problem is when I try to talk and do--almost anything else. When transporting foster kids all over creation and North Texas on often unfamiliar byways, I missed so many exits while in conversation that my kids expected my cheerful rejoinder to "you just missed the exit" that we were again taking the scenic route. I am pleased that it became a point of camaraderie among us. At least, I thought so.

And that was with an actual person sitting beside me.

Cell phones, however, factor more than just on the road.

I play Yahzee with three friends every week, where we play all six games at once. This results in scores usually over 7,000, and I prefer to use my calculator. (Two of us add in their heads faster than I can with my calculator but I forgive them, and they forgive me.) I got a telephone call on my cell the other day and after the call I brought it back to the table with me. My cell and my calculator are approximately the same size. I was talking to my friends while deciding to add a column, and had punched two musical digits before it occurred to me I was trying to add on my cell phone. Yes, I know I actually can do that, but I wanted to use my nifty sun-powered calculator which I've had since the 80s. They didn't notice.

So of course, I confessed. And was ribbed unmercifully. And then a friend confessed she had been watching tv last week when she decided to make a call and absentmindedly picked up the TV remote and tried to dial. Wasn't she good-hearted to share that?

I'm the woman who had to train myself to hang up my car keys each time I entered the house after one nerve-wracking morning when it took us 30 minutes to find the keys in the refrigerator. And when we did, I remembered how that happened. But when I am thinking about something else, my hands do things I hesitate to take responsibilty for, although ultimately I must.

I once knew someone who could read while driving 80 mph down the highway, simultaneously carry on a conversation, watch tv and read--although with delayed reaction times--and never miss a lick.

Me, I can walk and chew gum. Oh, and I can cook and talk at the same time. Definitely not write and talk. Drive and talk a little bit--although I can listen with better driving concentration.

Fortunately, the computer and printer have discrete functions. Else I might never post.

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