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Ergo Sum

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The best of mornings; the worst of mornings.

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Making my way to my reading chair with my newspaper under my arm and my espresso in-hand, I was just thinking what a peaceful morning August 1, 2005 happened to be so far. A brand new arrangement for the delivery of the Wall Street Journal and other out-of-town papers promised to put an end to the ritual of hunting for the paper, which is more frequently in the neighbor's driveway than mine, arriving either before five in the morning or not until well after nine. And then of course, there's the issue with the paper that just never seems to make it at least once each fortnight. So August was off to a good start when I heard The Sound.

Out of nowhere, the sound of tires skidding on pavement made its way down the street, followed by an abrupt bang. Someone—more than one, I dared to guess—was having a worse morning than I.

I went outside to investigate and, as I expected there was rather a mess down at the end of the block. There appeared to be three drivers, two were out of their vehicles and the one in a huge truck couldn't possibly suffer any difficulty from the attempt of several vehicles to occupy the position in space-time.

Notice the amount of hood-crunch on that poor little car in that shot nearby. Sure, it clearly went straight into the bumper of a huge truck, but there are several problems. First is that the yellow garbage truck is sitting on the right side of the road, in the right place to be. That the smaller vehicle's driver would arbitrarily decide to occupy that space seems a bit far fetched. Next is the speed required to get the hood to crumple up like that. I'm guessing that the impact exceeded the posted speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour.

Were I to speculate as to what happened, it would look a little something like this. A pinhead in that big black pickup truck behind the small car was driving it too quickly down the road. When he realized that the car was slowly turning that corner, he opted to slam on his brakes (making the skidding sound I heard), and failed to stop before banging the back of the car, pushing it forward and straight into the front bumper of the garbage truck. Some poor driver just trying to navigate his way through the neighborhood got rammed from behind. Fortunately, he was by all appearances completely unharmed, but not so much can be said for his car. It likely would have to be towed and he would be without a ride for a while. The moron responsible scratched his bumper and probably got to go about his business after being given a ticket. Let's hope he's insured sufficiently to compensate for the trouble he gave.

I'm also delighted that the City of Columbus had an idled driver and needed to engage its administrators in the handling of an incident, all at my expense. I suspect that no auto insurance policy will compensate the taxpayers for this waste.

This is the sort of nonsense that happens with far higher frequency when people go zipping about in their cars, in a Big Hurry to get wherever they're supposed to be. And since they're Very Important, complete with full schedules, they're probably also talking on the phone, playing with their iPod, reading a book, and composing a symphony all at the same time.

I maintain that this mindset is not just dangerous, but antisocial. Driving too quickly and engaging in other activities while driving puts not just oneself at risk, but foists risk upon others who happen to be legitimately going about their business in public spaces, as demonstrated by the event that triggered this reflection.

The fact is, if you're really that busy, someone else needs to be driving. Use public transportation if you haven't the means for a private driver. Quit scheduling yourself to appear all over the place on a given day so you don't have so much travel. Or simply reduce the number of things that you pretend you're going to accomplish in a day. Perhaps a bit of humility is called for: is the world really going to be worse off if you do not accomplish each task on your agenda? The simple fact is that if you're multitasking like that, you're not really accomplishing those tasks well, you're just demonstrating that you don't consider any of them important enough for your full attention. People like to know that they're unworthy of others' full attention.

Ultimately, this modus operandi will catch up with you—abruptly and obviously—when you manage to ruin a morning not just for others but for yourself as well. If you didn't have time to drive twenty-five miles per hour down my street instead of forty, how can you possibly have the time to put on a show for neighbors and passers-by in the form of plowing your vehicle into another and dealing with the aftermath?

Having taken my fill of the morning's entertainment, I opted for another espresso and to finish the paper. Despite the best efforts of an idiot, it really was a lovely morning.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2005-08-06 07:32 PM
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