Pay at­ten­tion

The Beacon (Gander) - - Editorial -

Hi. It’s me.

I’m a hu­man be­ing who some­times writes edi­to­ri­als like this one. Late mid­dle-aged guy, 55, mar­ried, four kids in the fam­ily, kids that are now spread well across the coun­try and mak­ing their own lives, no one liv­ing at home in the spare room just right now. I try to take care of my­self. I fail, of­ten. I eat too many un­healthy things, pre­tend I don’t drink too much, make prom­ises to my­self about fit­ness and stress, tell the doc­tor things that are mostly the truth (per­haps shined up a bit more than they should be for le­git­i­mate di­ag­no­sis). For my fam­ily, I think, the most im­por­tant thing is that I’m reach­able; they can mes­sage me, call me if they need help. I’d like them to al­ways be able to do that — well, at least I hope they can un­til they’re safely and fully on their feet. I know they think a lot of my ad­vice is old-guy stuff. I re­mem­ber think­ing ex­actly the same thing about my fa­ther when I was the same age my kids are. Last Thursday, walk­ing home, I was in a cross­walk when a taxi­cab made a right turn di­rectly in front of me — if I hadn’t stopped quickly, he would have hit me. He didn’t see me. I know that be­cause I was on the driver’s side of his cab, and the cell­phone he was hold­ing up and look­ing at was in his right hand, so that he was look­ing away from me. The very first that he would have known that I was even there was the soft thump of his car hit­ting mid­dle-aged me. Twenty min­utes later, at an­other cross­walk, I was al­ready off the curb and on the white lines when the car next to me jumped into traf­fic: it was a young guy, by which I mean younger than me, wear­ing a busi­ness suit and driv­ing an Audi sedan. By then, it was dark, the early dark of mid-win­ter, and in that dark­ness, I could see the smart phone in his hand, brightly lit in the dark of the car, and I could see the an­gle of his face, turned down, his eyes locked on the small screen. Only the fact that I was pay­ing at­ten­tion —al­ready jumpy from near-miss No. 1 — kept him from hit­ting me. I’m cer­tain he never did see me. Tues­day, I stepped in front of a mid-sized SUV stopped at a traf­fic light, its driver face­down in the all-im­por­tant world of her phone as her car con­tin­ued to roll slowly for­ward into the in­ter­sec­tion, press­ing against the side of my leg. She waved an em­bar­rassed apol­ogy. Drove quickly away when the light changed. Hi. It’s me. A hu­man be­ing. Sooner or later, you’re go­ing to kill or in­jure me. For a text mes­sage. Will it re­ally be worth it?

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