This morning Ashley and I were heading out to pick up a few things. As we pulled up to a stoplight, I noticed that the guy behind us was texting whilst he pulled up to the light.

Let me say this right here: Texting and driving is just about the stupidest thing you could do. Like maybe the only things worse are performing neurosurgery on yourself and trying to bring back Sugar Ray. It’s more idiotic than drinking and driving – which is damn idiotic but at least can get you a nice set of plates:

Stay classy!

Stay classy!

The thing is, there are reasons someone might drink and drive. It doesn’t excuse it, but I can see someone maybe not realizing how much he or she had to drink, or perhaps having no choice other than being stranded at a Toby Keith concert. Again, that doesn’t excuse it, but I can understand why the alternative might be worse.

He'll put a boot up your ass.

He’ll put a boot in your ass.

There is no reason at all to text and drive. If you have an Android phone there’s text-to-speech apps galore, and Android’s own native functionality has worked pretty well for a few years now. Any iPhone after the 4 has Siri, who will read texts to you, let you reply, and serve up a bottle Beaujolais while frying a delicately breaded filet of salmon in extra virgin olive oil. If you have a Windows phone Bill Gates will personally send your texts for you.

Dreamy eyes and all

Dreamy eyes and all

But that’s all beside that point because, believe it or not, every single type of smartphone CAN MAKE ACTUAL PHONE CALLS!! Which is kinda like texting, but with your voice. So there is literally never a reason to text while you’re driving.

Not to mention that warnings against doing so are ridiculously prevalent and violent. This one comes courtesy of fucking Glee aka That Show That’s So Happy Everyone’s Concerned It’s Actually Seriously Emotionally Deranged. We hear stories about people dying or being critically injured in accidents all the time. And who the hell wants their last words to be “Kk lol” anyway?

So I get perhaps a bit irrationally bent out of shape when I see people texting and driving. Furthermore, since that person is putting himself, me, and everyone around us in a potentially dangerous situation, I feel totally entitled to do something about it. And if I learned one thing from 18 years of Catholicism, it’s that nothing prevents unwanted behavior better than guilt.

When the light turned green I began accelerating, but ol’ Dimwit behind me sat at the light for a few seconds, not realizing it’d changed. We were approaching a fairly busy section of highway: restaurants on both sides, gas stations, and outdoor mall and Interstate interchange. And Dimwit was still texting. From one light to the next, he never looked up that I saw. When we reached the next light, he was still texting. This time when the light changed I crept forward slowly. Dimwit still stayed at the light for a bit, but then began moving forward – still texting – at about 25 mph…in a 45 mph zone. I pulled into the left lane and slowed down, waiting for him. When he finally caught up with me, I honked my horn and he finally put the phone down and looked at the road.

I pulled back into the right lane behind him, ready to let it go. But then he turned into one of the gas stations and I followed him. Ashley protested, worried that  he might have a gun or knife or something. And she’s right, but, you know, I was pissed.

He was my age, maybe a tad older, certainly not a teenager or the immortal-college-student type. He had his wife and kid in the back. I made sure to point both of these things out as I gave him a solid what-for. I also made sure he knew how we putting everyone on the road in danger. And, for his part, he took his drubbing. He acknowledged he was being stupid and should be more responsible. After which I drove off.

This is the first time I’ve ever actually said something to a dimwit. Usually I just honk my horn and shake my head – hopefully in a shaming fashion – at the offender. But I see people texting and driving more and more, probably at least once a day. We live on a fairly busy street, about half a block from a stop sign. I could watch out the window right now and within the hour see someone paying more attention to her phone that the upcoming stop sign.

Maybe it isn’t up to me. Maybe I should leave people alone, focus on keeping myself and my wife safe. But nothing else is working. The PSAs, the technology, the sense of social/familial responsibility…none of it is helping. So good old-fashioned shame might do the trick. I don’t know. Maybe yelling at Dimwit was an asshole thing to do. But maybe it’ll save his life. Or his kid’s life. Or some strangers. So, yeah…I’m willing to be an asshole if doing so might save a life.


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