Don’t shoot the messenger

28 Oct

I’ve been following this story in China where a toddler was run over by not one, but multiple vehicles. As she was lying bleeding and dying in the street, pedestrians kept walking, drivers kept running her over. Who knows where her parents were. Finally, someone ran to her aid.

It’s hard to imagine a world so desensitized and selfish but it’s happening.

Here in Washington County I’ve seen countless vehicle accidents lately. Too many people have lost their lives, many came close. Talking to Officer Craig Harding on the radio show last week, we discussed that many accidents are due to distracted drivers, i.e. cell phones.

A couple years ago I was driving on Bluff Street when I received a text. I responded to the text and then pulled into a gas station. A man in the vehicle behind me scolded me for it. It was embarrassing to say the least, but I learned a good lesson. Now I try to put my phone where I can’t reach it while I’m driving. I’ve seen the videos on YouTube. The teenagers dying in car accidents because they were talking and driving or texting and driving.

Today I was driving up the Boulevard. Ahead of me in the left lane I saw that a city worker had put out cones as he worked on the road. I slowed, looked behind me, turned on my blinker. The car in the right lane slowed, made sure there was enough room to move over, and let me in. As I began to merge, I saw in my rearview mirror a gray Ford truck zip around that car and cut in front of them, narrowly making it and nearly running me off the road. I swerved back into the left lane and braked hard to avoid the city worker walking in the street, unaware that he could have just been killed.

We’ve all been there. A car cuts you off and you’re angry. You want to get even but you don’t. You want to call the police and get them ticketed, but still you don’t. As the blonde driver passed me, she looked right at me but continued her cell phone conversation without so much as a wave, an apology, even a hint of sorrow that she just cut off two vehicles and could have gotten a pedestrian killed.

I wasn’t angry. I was shocked.

I looked at her license plate but knew I wasn’t going to call the police. But I did notice the sticker in her back window advertising a local business. I knew the owner. I wondered if he’d be surprised if an employee was driving recklessly while advertising his business. I liked this owner. Many times I have referred friends and even strangers his way. I respected him.

I thought I’d give him a call. I was polite. It wasn’t his fault. First I asked if he had an employee with a gray truck or if the gray truck belonged to his business. He hesitated and stumbled on his words a bit, but he said no. I didn’t feel like it mattered anymore then. No point in bringing it up, but he asked me why. I casually and quickly recounted the events and was just about to the end the conversation with a but-since-you-don’t-own-the-truck-definitely-not-your-problem-have-a-good-day tone in my voice.

Had I been walking, his reply would have stopped me dead in my tracks.

He got angry with me. Really angry. He said something like “haven’t you ever made a mistake” without giving me a chance to answer.

I would hope that if my mistake was endangering other people’s lives, that someone would have informed me. You’d think I’d sent SWAT to his doorstep to arrest his wife with the way he got upset.

I lost respect for him at that moment. I will never again refer people to his place of business, which I’m sure suits him fine since he doesn’t appear to respect me either.

When did we become that sort of society where hurting other people, violently or physically, or narrowly doing so, for our own selfish purposes (a phone call that just couldn’t wait), that we get angry at those who simply talk about it? We get angry with those who ask us not to endanger the lives of others?

Maybe I should have said nothing and minded my own business. But then again, since the blonde nearly forced me to run an innocent man over, I would say that was somewhat my business.


Posted by on October 28, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


Tags: , ,

3 responses to “Don’t shoot the messenger

  1. John

    October 28, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Distracted driving is nearly as bad as drunk driving. The root cause is that when a phone rings, we are pre-programmed to answering it. It is hard not to. I answer mine but because I’m acutely aware of the dangers of distracted driving, if i can, I pull over to continue the call. Being a motorcyclist, I check the drivers around me for the telltale sign of distracted driving, that is when their one hand is at their head!!!

    I tend to agree with the owner of the business.He was caught off guard, embarrassed, and not at fault. I would think that if that were his employee, he would have at least warned her not to talk on the phone while driving anyway.

    A good driver is continually aware of the actions of others, like the car behind you giving you room to pull over. Reacting in the way you did shows you are a good driver. Too many people put themselves in motion and trust the vehicle to keep them safe. Not good.

  2. Mark

    October 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Jen, you did the right thing. Doing the right thing regardless of the consequences is called courage.

  3. Anonymous

    October 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Good for you Jen, I do the same thing and only once out of a lot of calls, had one idiot that gave me the same treatment! But guess what, he is now out of business. Normally when I call I ask if they hire drivers or is this a family run business. if its family run, it’s a hard sale. Then I merely state I am also a small business owner, and I sure don’t want to pry into how you run your business, but if I had a bill board running down the street on the side of my truck I would be concerned with the way they are advertising for me. I have called on semi-drivers on the free way to ones with advertising on the back window, If more people would do the same, it maybe the start of bringing some consideration back onto the roads.


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