Archive for April, 2012

I was reading with glee — keeping an eye on the road and a hand upon wheel — in the iPhone version of the Recorder the other day about the number of people arrested in Montgomery and Fulton counties during “Operation Hang-Up.”

I was so thrilled, I almost swerved into a ditch. I stopped singing along with my MP3 player long enough to roll down my window, stick my head out into the oncoming wind and traffic and shout, “It’s about time.”

I was so ecstatic, I almost dropped my cheesy gordita.

Nothing grinds my gears faster than a person holding a cell phone to the side of their head while driving. There are laws. There is common sense. And there are cell phone owners.

And for the life of me, I can’t understand why they all haven’t learned to co-exist.

I often wish I had one of those fake red flashing lights so I could turn it on, slam it onto the roof of my car — kinda like they used to do on those ’70s undercover cop/detective TV shows — then drive like 90 while impersonating a police officer, just to chase down these law-breakers and scare them into hanging up their telephones.

That would sure show them.

Oh, what glee.

During the past week, real police officers have been involved in a statewide campaign focused on throwing into jail for life people who are caught using electronic devices while driving.

On Wednesday of this week on Route 30 alone, state troopers said they issued 53 tickets during “Operation Kevin Mattison is Right.”

This is a good start, but represents hardly more than a dent in the real problem.

Five of the arrests were for violations involving the use of electronic devices; 35 people — and this, I will never understand — were busted for using their cell phones.

There were other charges levied against other people, like one pot bust, but who cares? The phone users finally got what was coming to them.

How long ago was it — and it couldn’t have been too long ago, because I remember it and I really can’t remember anything any more — that we all went about our lives without portable phones?

When we left the house, we left the phone behind. We got in the car, and unless we were part of the 1 percent, there wasn’t a phone in there.

We pulled into traffic, struggled to buckle the seat belt we forgot to buckle (thankfully there’s an alarm that reminds us about such things), and shifted our go-cup of coffee from one hand to the other while fiddling with the radio dials until the rock ’n’ roll came screaming from the tin speaker at a decibel level greater than that of the surrounding traffic. (Few things are more annoying than a good song being interrupted by an oncoming vehicle tooting a horn because you’ve drifted over into “their” lane; or, worse, an “emergency” vehicle coming up from behind making all kinds of warning noises because you’re in the way of their “emergency.”)

How did we ever live our lives before the advent of the never-ending telephone conversation? And why is it that people who own cell phones think the laws against using them while driving do not apply to them?

What can a telephone conversation consist of that is so important it has to take place during the commission of a crime?

“I would have hung up, officer, but I was thisclose to peace in the Middle East.”

“Oh. In that case, citizen, I will let you off with only a warning this time.”

And another thing. Do people in a moving vehicle somehow think they cannot be seen? That clear window glass traveling at 55 mph is not penetrable by the human eye?

I was thinking about all this while tooling along the highway Friday, feather-dusting my dashboard, which collects an inexplicable amount of dust.

At 79 mph I can literally take an index finger and write my name in the dirt on the front of the glove compartment over on the passenger side.

There is no way I should be able to do this. I keep the windows closed; I don’t smoke. Where does all this dust come from?

Luckily, auto parts stores sell those dashboard duster things you can use while sitting there doing nothing other than veering in and out of traffic, blowing past people going too slowly because their phone conversation is more important than their road manners.

Is there a law against running these people off the road? Because I don’t have one of those flashing 5-Oh suction cup rooftop cop lights, and installing a siren seems a bit over the top. There should be a way us law-abiding drivers can retaliate against these inconsiderate yo-yos.

If I wasn’t afraid of spilling hot coffee on my work shirt, I’d give one of these people a nudge with the right front fender, then charge their insurance company to fix the damages.

If they are talking on the phone, breaking the law, they can pay to fix my car. Any judge would have to side with me on this.


Kevin Mattison is executive editor of the Recorder and finds the easiest way to rip open the packet of hot sauce for the gordita is by grabbing it with two hands and steering with his knees. Contact him at kmattison@recordernews.com. And check out his collection of columns, old and new, at https://mattisonsavenue.wordpress.com/


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