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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Autos, Entitlement and "The Technology Monkey"


We are getting all types of new gadgets in our autos and on our person these days, but common sense is not being programmed into them. We become different creatures in our cars - financed to the hilt, full of ourselves and distracted. We feel entitled, tending our technologies and our powerful machines.

I am a pedestrian, now retired, who has walked the last 5 years by choice from the Veterans Home to a volunteer job daily at the Hastings Library. The journey is 3 miles one way. Some of my journey takes me through city traffic. I have found myself sprawled across the hood of a car after the driver turned right without looking to a green light crosswalk because she was talking on a cell phone. I have been cursed for being in the middle of the road in a clearly marked pedestrian right of way by a speeder late to work running a red light who had to brake to avoid killing me. I could recount other similar near- miss incidents, too numerous to mention.

Having driven for 36 years both in the US and abroad, and having spent 2 hours a day in an automobile on the D.C. Beltway at the end of my aerospace career, I am very familiar with the driving experience. I saw it all in Washington; from cars driving down in the ditch avoiding traffic jams to people late for a meeting running wildly around their auto, screaming at the world in general. During the sniper episode in Washington, I observed a man pull into a gas station, laying a loaded high powered rifle across the top of his car while he filled up. The hammer on that 30/30 lever action was cocked. No one was going to hurt his chariot.

There is a new kind of monkey these days - the technology monkey. That sucker will bury us if we don't learn to deal with him. We are so busy tending our gadgets and feeling entitled that we lose site of priorities, get wound up in minutia and end up in a meaningless zoo. Road rage is becoming a certifiable illness. Perhaps we should slow down, assess what is important, savor the time we have and consider respect for others. It is not difficult. It can become habit forming. And it just might feel good.

Ken Larson


Catherine said...

Amen! I prefer biking than driving but often deprive myself of this joy because of the deadly risks of sharing the road with cars. I wonder if a silent majority of city drivers probably share our views but choose driving because current infrastructures are generally not pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly. Maybe the time has come for the silent majority to speak out. Ok, so maybe I'm dreaming when I say "majority". I submit to you that the would-be pedestrians and cyclists are a potential majority. Let us keep spreading this view and it will likely take hold!

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