Please don't hit me!

carwreck.jpgThis afternoon, after watching a matinee of “Margot at the Wedding” at the Encino Laemmle, my wife and I eased our car out of the underground parking lot and cruised slowly toward the stop sign, to make a right turn on to Encino Ave. Suddenly, from our left, barreling around the corner from behind a tall hedge, a woman in a mini-van turned right on to our street. Well, not quite right. She made a right turn into the left lane; our lane. We managed to get a gander at her jabbering on her cell phone, like she didn’t have a care in the world, before we swerved. Unless she's hit someone in the interim, she still doesn’t have a care because we sidestepped fate and got out of her way.

"Please don’t hit me!" I yelled, while thinking something altogether more abusive.

Hadn't she heard of hands-free? Bluetooth ear pieces? Speakerphones? These are not new items; the technology's been around for years. There's been plenty of time to adjust -- if you care.

Of course this behavior is not the exclusive province of women, it's just that for some reason I see mostly women behind the wheels of Explorers, Navigators, Expeditions, Escalades, Hummers, and the rest, yakking while making one-handed left turns – usually with school kids in the back. Guys? Probably making turns with their knees so one hand can hold the phone and the other can gesticulate wildy to make a point.

Please don’t hit anyone!

My wife and I shook off the near collision (not the "near miss" the tv talking heads use to describe airplane disasters that almost happen -- which, when you think about it, actually means collision), and drove west on Ventura Blvd. In the distance we saw a tow truck and police car lights. An ambulance, too. A couple blocks later we discovered why. Someone in a Volvo SUV had made a right turn off Ventura on to Etiwanda, and swung wide, smashing into a car waiting at the light. A cell phone lay on the ground.

Please don’t hit us!

When does that hands-free cell phone law go into effect?

Not a moment too soon. But why is it only for teenagers?

Your car is not your f*$%ing living room or bedroom or kitchen or den, and if you insist on treating it as such, at least keep both hands on the wheel. No. Stay at home and talk. What's so earth-shattering that it can't wait until everyone around you will be safe?

I’m tired of watching you slow down in traffic because you’re dialing, or talking, or – GOD FORBID! – texting, and not paying attention. I’m scared when you swerve into my lane, or straddle two, or as my friend Nancy notes, miss the light turning any available color. There's no excuse. You're not drunk. And there's this: I’m petrified at the example you’re setting for your children.

Please. Please. Please. I really want to live long enough to use all those retirement savings. I’d like you to live long, too.


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