Dear Big Daddy,
The problem is that *some* people are incapable of driving safely while talking on a cell phone. Those same people are pretty much incapable of driving well while off a cell phone also, but what the hell, let's just make a law that punishes everyone else, too.
Dear Drivin' n' Cryin',
This may surprise you, given that I'm one of the great political gabbers of all time, but I actually approve of Senator Joe Simitian's new law banning talking on a cell phone while driving. It's not because of the lives it may save. Neither is it based on the fact that many other countries have already banned it-and one of my pet peeves about this fine nation of ours is our thickheaded unwillingness to learn from the successes of others. It's also not because cell phone companies are evil. Nor am I basing my support on the idea the economy will get a bump from all those people buying the latest in bluetoothy cyborgy-looking hands-free replicant wear.
No, my reason is simply this: most people are boring, most of the time.
Before you get angry, boring reader, let me note that I'm hardly excusing myself from this category. I had a reputation as a talker, but when all was said and dead, my contribution to the canon of gab consisted of maybe three sentences. In other words, for all the syllables that poured out of my mouth in my loquacious days of living, my batting average was hardly better than anyone else's. I just had more cameras, tape recorders and people around to catch my rare moments of inspiration.
As for my other moments, my wives, mistresses and cronies could tell you all about those-but you'd probably prefer they didn't. The way I could get consumed in an idea, an election or a piece of legislation to the point where I couldn't shut up about it unless I was unconscious, and sometimes not even then. My drunken ramblings at some slight or another and the revenge I would take. When I became a liquor hermit in those salad days after RFK was gunned down before my eyes, it was partly so no one would have to listen to the horrid, self-pitying squeaking sounds as I finally screwed my head on straight again. And let's not even get started on this column…
Yeah, yeah, I know, your spouse thinks you're fascinating. Now try withholding sex or not taking out the garbage, depending on your gender, and see how interesting they find you after a couple weeks. Your friends? Some days you're just there so they don't have to knit or watch baseball alone.
They say that most people have maybe five years of good material in them. But those calculations are based on the idea that sometimes you're without an audience. In this era of cell phones and long commutes, with nothing to stop your stream of consciousness from spilling out into an unwilling world, I'd say this has probably gone down to about three weeks.
And the age of anything interesting to say is long past for all those people yada-yada-yadaing into their phones next to me while I sit on the light rail on my way to work as an AGPA II at the Bureau of Bureaucratic Language, er, I mean when my ghostly presence inhabits the back seats of solo commuters…wait, that sounds weird…this pretending I'm dead thing doesn't always work, does it? Anyhoo, Senator Simitian, please get to work on the light rail…
So let's talk about another thing most people are bad at: driving. Our fair letter-writer seems to think they're the master of one-handed driving while yelling at plastic-it's just all those other darn fools who don't know their limits. Surveys also show that three quarters of people say they're better than average drivers, when actually the opposite is true.
And the last thing these boring bad drivers (aka: "people") need is something else distracting them. Take your average human, evolved for long quiet days of berry gathering and butt-scratching, then stick them in an SUV at rush hour with radio blaring nonsense and two kids playing two separate DVDs in the back with an ambulance bearing down from the last boring bad driver-then stick them on the phone in a pissy mood with the spouse or ex who put those kids back there…let's just say I'd rather take my chances in a nitroglycerin-filled dinghy rowed by that Cosco Busan guy.