We have 5 windows in our bedroom. From these five windows you can glimpse a lovely view of the sun rising over the golf course water way, but in our house no one wants to be up that early. We are co-sleeping parents of a 20 month old, who is currently transitioning from our bed. We value every SINGLE minute of sleep that we can snatch from the wee hours. Additionally, my husband is the kind of insomniac that requires no light, white noise, a certain density of pillow, etc., so the light streaming through the shades in the early am has got to be shut out.
It was on this mission that I set out to our local K-Mart to buy some draperies that wouldn’t break the budget (after all we are in a rental, and haven’t committed to a permanent décor scheme to justify more expensive expenditures). M, my husband, had seen some crimson panels on sale for $7 and I thought I would check them out and take our daughter, V, out of the house to the local mall play place, as the temp for the day was predicted to be in the mid nineties. Unfortunately, the draperies were a no-go, as the panels when pulled out for inspection, were discovered to be a thin crushed silk, not the type of fabric to obscure sunlight. So, minus draperies, plus one giant Dora the Explorer coloring book that V spotted near the home décor section, we strapped ourselves back into the sweltering car to head on over to our air conditioned mall oasis.
I turned left out of the parking lot, and got into the left hand turn lane at the light. A minute later, I was face to face with a BIG blue semi. Entirely IN MY LANE. AND STILL MOVING FORWARD. I thought, surely, I was facing my own demise. I blasted repeatedly on my horn to alert the driver, wondering, WTF? Was I mistaken in thinking I was in the turn lane? (No, I was in the correct lane.) Was the guy going to stop? Was the last sound I heard going to be the tires crunching my little 2002 Saturn SL-1 as they rolled over myself and my little daughter?
Thankfully, the driver snapped out of it just in time to stop his turn. I stared at him as if looking into a mirror; he was that close to my car. He still couldn’t back up or correct his turn to arrive in the proper lane, so I had to back up my car and pull into the straight lane, rather than the turn lane, to allow him to pass. As he did, I looked up, and there is the big, mother trucker, ON THE PHONE! I, enraged at the threat to my life and the life of my child, gave him a universally recognized sign of displeasure, along with a few choice words. He barely blinked. And he kept on talking.
Now I understand that truck drivers often get little sleep, they have to make sharp turns with a difficult turn radius, and sometimes space is limited. I have approached many an intersection with a turning truck only to leave a little extra space to accomplish a challenging turn. In this case, the truck driver needed more than a wide berth. I might suggest a lobotomy. Because it was crazy to make the turn onto a narrow West Virginia road, with a giant multi ton vehicle while on a cell phone. Clearly, for him, it was impossible to accomplish with any modicum of safety.
The last time I looked death in the face in a moving vehicle was when my husband and I were traveling in Boston for a family event and a shed that was being transported on the freeway, blew off the truck and came flying towards us. Thankfully, traffic was light and everyone was able to maneuver out of the way in time, but I remember looking as my husband’s face grew sheet white and thinking, ok, this is it. I had that feeling again today. It is never fun to face mortality or to think of how an ordinary morning can be transformed in a moment.
It is truly amazing to me the lack of concern that so many drivers use on the road when they are talking or texting. I cannot comprehend the callousness or the adolescent sense of invincibility that people have with regard to cell phones. Seriously, how many deaths and accidents are going to occur before people wake the heck up and get off the dang phone? Get a little patience, stop with the constant connection addiction and get off the phone. In nearby Maryland, talking on a handheld device and texting are banned while driving, and though it may be inconvenient for this generation living every moment immersed in the information age, I feel a heck of a lot safer when I cross the border. We take our lives and the lives of others in our hands every day when we get behind the wheel and it doesn’t take much for an accident to happen. A fraction of a millisecond and someone’s life is forever changed. No phone call is worth that. Behind every wheel is someone’s child.