Common Sense on Draft

Sometimes in my life, things happen in which I find myself laughing, shaking my head in wonder, and angry all at the same time. Every once in a while a law gets passed that brings about this type of reaction. Will Rogers once said: “The trouble with Congress is that every time it tells a joke it becomes a law, and every time it passes a law it becomes a joke”. Rogers would probably see that in many ways not much has changed since his passing in 1935.
Some laws were just never taken off the books. Time goes on and people go “there’s actually a LAW for THAT?” It would be very easy to cite laws in states where I have never lived. However, let me talk about some states where I have lived (and loved living in most of them). For example, I am currently a New York state resident. In New York, a marriage cannot be dissolved for irreconcilable differences unless both parties agree to it. HUH? Supposedly, in my home state of Georgia, legislators are given a unique form of protection. Supposedly, members of the Georgia state assembly cannot be ticketed for speeding while the state assembly is in session. After all, legislation is just as important as an ambulance transporting a mother in labor. NOT! The beautiful state of South Carolina reportedly has a law that states a permit is required to fire a missile. Thanks, South Carolina. I will feel much safer the next time I cruise the Mark Clark Expressway. I also must not leave out the beautiful state that is known as the Heart of Dixie – Alabama. In Alabama, it is allegedly illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle. I must say that, out of everything I have cited, this last law from Alabama is the one that provides the most amusement to me. Alabama had to pass a law to tell grown people not to drive while wearing a blindfold. The same state that gave us Joe Louis, Helen Keller, and Hank Aaron HAD to tell its constituents that one watch the road while driving. This is not a shot against the legislators in Alabama. Alabama is a beautiful state and I made some friendships there that still stand today. It is just one example among many throughout our great United States where common sense had to be legislated.
It is with this thought in mind that I get back to my current state of residence, New York, and a driving law that has once again been updated. A law has just passed in New York that mandates hands free operation of a cell phone WHILE DRIVING. This means that New York drivers MUST use a hands free device to use a cell phone WHILE DRIVING. Technically, under the law, using a cell phone’s speakerphone instead of a hands free device is a violation. The law even specifies that sending text messages WHILE DRIVING is a violation. Just like Alabama, the state of New York had to legally mandate that people who are old enough to know better to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road WHILE DRIVING. Yes, it makes me laugh a bit and shake my head in wonder. It also angers me a bit.
The reason why I am angered by it is that I see evidence for its need daily. Just the other day, I pulled out of the office park where I work. This office park is about a quarter mile from the expressway. Shortly after I pulled out of said office park, I see a young lady in a sporty little car. Two things were clear about this lady. She was very irate and she spoke with her hands. I know this because this lady was in the car behind me. Every time I looked in my rear view mirror, I could see her ranting on her cell phone. Presumably, she was talking to the source of her ire. She held her phone in one hand and waved her other hand about wildly to express her very apparent indignation. She did all of this WHILE DRIVING. As I merged onto the expressway, she remained behind me ranting and waving. I even noticed her correct her steering a couple of times as her car veered while she spewed her wrath into her phone. This new law is designed to protect us all from drivers such as these. It is designed to protect us all from other drivers who feel their rights and convenience is more important than the safety of others.
In closing  I’d like to air one final thought. To the angry driver, I hope you get pulled over soon. I hope you get slapped with the $150 fine and 3 points on your drivers license. I know that would be very unpleasant for you. However, I find that a much better alternative than the strong risk of police needing your family to identify your body and what remains of your car.
P. S. To New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, thank you for passing this bill into law. This is a very important step to protect New York drivers from distracted drivers, Now, if you’d be so kind Governor, please stop dragging your feet on the Autism Insurance Reform Bill and pass it into law. Thank you.

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IPSBS (Invisible Passenger Side Braking System)

I can remember when my parents were teaching me how to drive. This process around the age of fifteen for most kids back then. When I say “back then”, I am referring to the early 1980’s. One of my friends reminded me that this was part of the Paleolithic Era when he and I attended Pangea High School. At any rate, this training process started to prepare a young Pangean teen to acquire his driver’s license at the age of sixteen. This also allowed parents a full year of therapeutic counseling to prepare them for the emotional transition of this great milestone of childhood. It also allowed parents to obtain a years worth of supplemental employment to financially prepare them for the rise in their auto insurance premiums.
At the time, we lived in a nice quiet suburban neighborhood on the south side of Savannah, Georgia. There were a lot of nice little side roads to go down with little to no traffic on the weekend. My mother worked for a bank in the area. There was an occasional perk to her job. We lived some distance from the bank where my mother worked. Due to this distance, she would occasionally be provided with a vehicle that the bank had recently repossessed. This usually happened for a weekend until the paperwork on the vehicle could be processed the following Monday.There is an important reason why I am given you this little snippet about my mother’s occupation. I had asked my mother if I could practice driving around the neighborhood one Saturday. I was expecting to use our family’s 1967 Ford Falcon. However, my brother had the use of that car. This meant that I got to have my first driving experience in a repossessed car. I was initially less than thrilled about this. This was until I realized that this same vehicle was a 1975 Cadillac Sedan De Ville. That’s right, folks. I got to drive around my neighborhood in a CADDY.
I sat in the Caddy while I waited for my Mom to get in the car. I decided use this time to work on the proper way to lean my arm on the back of the seat and complete my cool look. After all, it’s a Cadillac. You MUST lean. The best way to complete the look is to wear some cool sunglasses and let them hang down on your nose a bit. My mom got in the car. She started off by telling me to fix my sunglasses. She said she had no desire to ride with Marlon Brando. I asked if she was talking about the old dude in “Superman”. I knew who Marlon Brando was but I couldn’t resist taking a poke at my Mom’s age (who was younger than I am now). She then told me to put BOTH hands on the steering wheel and dispense with the lean. I tried to explain the need to look cool. She wouldn’t budge on the issue. She firmly replied: “You can look cool when it’s YOUR car. Until then, put your hands at 10 o’ clock and 2 o’ clock.” I asked her if that meant I had four hours to drive the car. “You know what, boy? I COULD just go back inside right about now.” I decided this was a good time to put my sense of humor aside.
I backed out of the driveway and drove down the side streets as my mother instructed me. Overall, things seem to be going well. My mother decided to up the ante a bit at this point. She directed me to take my main street out of our neighborhood. Check it out, people. I was driving down White Bluff Road in Savannah, Georgia. You couldn’t have gotten rid of the grin on my face with a belt sander. It was around this point that I discovered something about driving that I did not know previously. As we were moving down the road, my mother noticed a car backing out of the driveway into the street. My mother apparently did not think that I noticed this vehicle as quickly as she felt appropriate. My mother then very quickly pressed her right foot down to the floorboard. The car had been equipped with an invisible passenger side braking system. I knew that it worked because when she did this, I firmly and quickly pressed on the brake pedal on the driver’s side (producing a very audible and visible skid). This prompted a very brief exchange between me and Momma. “Shane, WHY did you slam on the brakes like that?” BECAUSE, you slammed on YOUR brakes, Momma. “Well, I didn’t think you saw that fella backing out.”  Momma, it’s a Ford pickup. Did you think I suddenly went blind? “Boy, if you keep talking to me like that, you’re gonna be blind for a couple of days.” At this point, the gentleman in the pickup drove by and gave my mother a sympathetic smile as he shook his head at me. At this point, my mother offered to take the wheel. When I say she offered, I mean she said “How about I drive now?” and got out of the passenger side before I could respond.
There would be other driving lessons over the months that followed. I would discover that there were other parts of the car to engage the passenger side braking system. Sometimes my mother would just use the floorboard. Other times, she would also put her hands on the dashboard or on the roof (or both). She even once used a unique braking system by using the floorboard, one hand on the dashboard, and the other hand over her mouth. I take pleasure in telling you all that a few short months later. I acquired my first drivers license at the age of sixteen. I couldn’t help but notice that the instructor had BOTH of his feet pressed into the floorboard for the entire test.