Distracted driving and the attendant risks is all the buzz these days. But separately consider the hazards sometimes presented by cab drivers whose driving habits prompt fibrillations. Combine these two and you have a column.
October 2010, South Bend, Ind. The Notre Dame football game had ended, the rain had started, and everyone without an umbrella was hailing a cab. Up the circle drive came our salvation. Never mind that this cab, from just appearance, had never been in a July 4 parade. It had four wheels, a roof and wipers. Sold.
Slamming the doors, the car had an aroma. No shocker there, I suppose — smoke, food, moisture, among others. Immediately it was clear there was a more serious problem: my wife was shoving her elbow in my side and pointing below. We had a front row view of the pavement, courtesy of a hole in the floor.
I gave him our destination, "To the Hyatt, please." He gassed it. The car sputtered. More smells. Wet asphalt.
This is where it got interesting. It would be an understatement to say that his car had distractions — GPS, cabbie meter and some machine that sat between the front seats and beeped with the cabbie dispatcher. All of which took his attention away from his primary focus — his phone. He was trying to text using a flip phone. We were in the middle of what I would call a CRASH scene, Calibrating, Reading, Accelerating, Swearing, Hiding seatbelts. Yes, the seatbelts were MIA, buried deep between the seats. I plunged my hand deep to retrieve mine and was afraid I would scrape my knuckles.
Between all these things he found another diversion. French fries. He reached over to the passenger seat, and, sitting atop a two feet stack of papers — bills, tickets, perhaps — he kept his stash.
He was texting, eating, talking and pushing buttons while commenting about the bad drivers practicing the 10-2 technique and staying in their lane.
Because this is a family newspaper, let’s just say his views made Archie Bunker sound progressive. Between merging into lanes, gassing through yellows and demonstrating a moving blind spot, the drive went from comical to near catastrophic. We suspect his feet were busy, too, doing a Barney Flintstone imitation, although his BMI would suggest exercise was not on his daily list.
They say when are about to die, you let go and find a sense of relief. That’s not what I felt. We arrived at our destination and gave him a nice tip — angering this guy seemed like a bad move. Plus, we lived.
So if you happen to find yourself in this cab, or one of his buddies’, here are my suggestions:
1. Find a rosary.
2. Distract him from his distractions. Ask about recent episodes of "Toddlers and Tiaras"
3. Pray for a cellular dead zone.
4. Hope the GPS doesn’t announce "recalculating."