Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hang Up and Drive, %&#@!

Happy New Year, a few days late.
I've enjoyed a post-Christmas staycation during which I completely unplugged from e-mail, office phones and blogging to dig into some painting, plumbing and decorating endeavors. Some folks have suggested that I miss the meaning of vacation! But, in truth, I find such work restorative, and, to be sure, I wasn't slaving away non-stop.
There was plenty of time for good eating and great visits with a steady stream of out-of-town guests that continues this week, as well.
So, just like Nixon in 80, I'm rested and ready -- if not tanned.
Headed back into the world of work yesterday only to be rudely greeted by a %#@!& taxi driver who must have been talking on his cell when he rear-ended me at a traffic light. I was taking our youngest to school and we were well stopped and waiting for the light to turn when the guy banged into us. No damage, and Hannah said, "wow! that was perfectly timed in the book I'm reading."
All of which had me wondering about how and when certain activities become socially acceptable or not. We have all kinds of hang ups in American culture about work and idle time. Vacation, we seem to believe, involves getting physically away and includes recreation understood mostly as consumers of entertainments. My time after Christmas was spent getting away mentally and being productive. I'm not suggesting that one is better than the other, just that the way we come to value one or the other is curious.
Which brings me back round to the cell-yakking cab driver.
Last evening I was sitting in the car, parked around the corner from the Metro station waiting to pick up my beloved and checking messages on my cell, when I strayed off into a mental tangent/rant on the hack who hit me and on driving while talking on the phone. My rant was interrupted when Cheryl called to say that she'd been dumped from the train a couple of stops early when %$#&! commuters did not heed the conductor's call to clear the doorways and the doors got stuck so the train had to be emptied.
So I had to drive about a mile to pick her up, which gave me plenty of time to get back into internal rant mode. I was well into my silent sermon about how drinking and driving was once perfectly acceptable, and about how safety studies show that talking on the phone while driving is as distracting and dangerous as drinking, when my phone rang.
If I was driving and someone offered me a drink I would turn it down, but I answered the phone. It was Cheryl. It was convenient. It was necessary. There are probably three or four other excuses I could invent.
What it was not was socially unacceptable.
Alas, there was no cab in front of me to rear end.