Texting and Driving

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Today, I almost got killed by a teenager driving a Range Rover. He might have been seventeen. Maybe not even that old. He wore a ballcap. Sideways. Music was blaring.
I was walking my dog when he swerved toward me. I heard tires screech. I leapt out of the way, hit the dirt and rolled. It was so much fun. I wish I could do it all over again.
I caught a glimpse of the driver through his passenger window. His head was down, looking at something in his hands. I’m guessing he was either reading a receipt, a check from Publishers Clearing House, the results from a paternity test or looking at a cellphone.
Though, something about the way he was swerving tells me that he was sending a text message. In fact, I am almost certain of this because of the exact way his tires leapt from the pavement.
He was probably sending a very important text message such as: “LOL!” or “ROFL!” Or quite possibly—this would be just my luck—the pile-of-poop emoji.
Wouldn’t that be a classy way for an average guy like me to die? There I am, out for a walk, a middle-aged man, minding his business, his best years ahead of him, devilishly handsome, when all of a sudden (BAM!) I’m Jello salad on the highway.
All because a teenager was trying to send his buddy the universal emoji for colon health.
When I finally got back home, I was so rattled that I was shaking. So naturally, the first thing I did was hop on the internet and Google how much a Range Rover costs. Here is what I found:
$90,000.
That’s U.S. dollars. Not dineros, Euros, Canadian dollars, Franks, Monopoly money, or whatever else there is.
So let’s review:

  1. I almost died.
  2. Certain SUVs cost more than two-bedroom condos with lake views.
  3. Poop emojis.
  4. Don’t text and drive.
    I wish there were something we could do about all the texting and driving. I have seen too many close calls recently.
    Yesterday, I was walking through a parking lot at Target when a Ford Explorer nearly backed over an elderly woman. The Explorer didn’t even stop. The driver was too busy looking at his phone.
    Once the driver realized what had happened, he threw his hands into the air as if to say, “Hey, lady! Watch where you’re going! I’m texting here!”
    And just a few days ago, I was in the grocery store. I saw a young woman pushing her shopping cart through the aisles. She was holding a phone so close to her face that it was almost touching her eyebrows.
    She ran straight into a young man who was placing a can of Campbell’s soup into his basket. The cart hit the man’s shinbone. I could hear it from across the aisle.
    It took a few moments for the woman to realize that the human-sounding thud she felt on the other side of her buggy was a live person.
    The young man hollered, “Ow!”
    Once this familiar sound registered in the woman’s ears, she glanced up from her personal device, and with all the emotion of mayonnaise, said:
    “Oh.”
    That was all she said. Not, “OH NO! I’m sorry, sir!”
    Not: “OH MY GOODNESS, I’M SORRY! I was sending a very important text to my friend which was not a text at all but a bunch of random emojis, including a female-flamenco-dancer emoji that was not even relevant to my actual text conversation!”
    She said, “Oh.”
    Then she kept shopping.
    I guess I worry that something is happening to our society. I wonder if things will keep going like they are with cell phones. I hope not.
    I do a lot of interstate driving throughout the week. I pass people on the highway all the time who are glancing down at their laps while traveling eighty miles per hour in the left lane.
    I see vehicles run off the highway and barely avoid collisions with guardrails, telephone poles, and billboards advertising Florida Powerball.
    Nobody even has to tell me why these vehicles are running off the road. It’s common knowledge why these things happen.
    A few weeks ago, in Atlanta, I saw a woman walking with her son on the sidewalk. Out of nowhere, a truck veered off the highway and rocketed onto the sidewalk. It barely missed the woman and her child.
    The truck came to a crashing halt, but not before ramming a sedan in front of it. My wife and I literally saw the truck driver’s cellphone bounce out of his hands upon impact.
    Then, the man gunned his engine and left the accident.
    The police were called to the scene. We witnesses were standing around, telling the cops what happened. You should have seen the horror on everyone’s faces. Especially the woman and her son who almost got struck. The kid was crying. His mother was, too.
    A big crowd of onlookers gathered. And I’ll never forget when one female police officer shouted to the large audience lingering nearby.
    “Folks!” she said. “Listen to me! Please! Don’t text and drive! Don’t, don’t, don’t!”
    It was all she said.
    And I suppose that’s all I’ll say, too.
    Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, the Tallahassee Democrat, Southern Magazine, Yellowhammer News, the Bitter Southerner, the Mobile Press Register and he has authored seven books.

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