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September 30th, 2016

Be Careful Out There

By G. E. Shuman
This isn’t going to be some sort of diatribe about how and when and where I think cell phones should be used. Maybe it should be one, but it isn’t going to be. Motor vehicle laws have been put into place to try to enforce the fact that it just might be dangerous to text your kids or write your college entrance exam essay on your phone, while driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour. For some reason, it seems to me that people should already be aware of such things. To me, those laws are like the seat belt ones. I don’t feel that we should need a law to tell us to wear a belt so that if we were to hit a tree our brains wouldn’t leave our heads, and become a permanent part of that tree. It seems to me that we would already want to avoid such occurrences, without being forced by law to.

No, I’m not here to talk about those things, exactly. I do want to share a very short incident that I was involved in just a few days ago. What happened was, I was driving toward Main Street in Barre, on an intersecting side street, and was in the process of stopping where that street met Main. I was not going fast at all, but did have to stop somewhat more abruptly than normal, as, just as I got close to Main, a tall young man simply stepped off the sidewalk curb, directly in front of my car.

Now, before anyone (although I’m sure none of my readers would do this) starts flying off the handle, proclaiming that a pedestrian always has the right of way, please know, I already know that. If I had ever hit that young man, it would have been my fault. That point, is not my point at all. You see, as this young man stepped off the curb, his ears were filled with ear buds, which were plugged into his phone, and he was very intently staring into that phone, and thumbing the screen as he stepped. I stopped, and raised my hands in a gesture that was meant to say, “What the heck are you doing? Do you have a death wish?” In return, the man raised just one of his hands, and gave me one of those lovely ‘half-a-peace-sign’ gestures that everyone loves to receive. He also raised his voice in words that his father probably taught him from his time in the Navy. He was mad that I could have hit him. I was scared that I could have hit him.

My point really is, that this is a free country, and I just think we have, in our personal freedoms, lost some of the idea of personal responsibility. Everyone owes us everything, and no one can make us do anything, even if doing so would make a lot of sense. That young man, as a pedestrian, had every right to step out in front of my car, as he concentrated on his music. If I had hit him with my car, it would have been my fault. The thing he might have wanted to consider is that my car would probably not have been damaged at all, with his body on the road underneath it. He might have been damaged in the extreme. Why don’t people get that?

Please, drivers and walkers, summer is here, and everyone is out enjoying it. So, Happy Summer! Let’s just be careful out there.

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