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Stepping Out

"Keep your eyes on the road! It was my wife, Jeanette, speaking to me again. Those lines are just guidelines, dear, I said. It doesn't matter if you cross them; they're only there to establish fault in the event of an accident. Which were about to have, if you keep driving like that, she continued. Maybe you should pull over and let me drive. Okay.She really was right and it didn't bother me to sit in the passenger seat. There were mountains nearby, and I could now give them my full attention. I drove the car to the side of the road, and we switched seats. I wonder how hard it would be to get up there, I said. Up where? Up there, above that meadow I said, pointing. Look out your window! GET YOUR ARM OUTTA MY FACE I'M TRYING TO DRIVE! Jeanette said, ever so sweetly. Recent studies have shown that drivers using cell phones have an accident rate equal to that of drivers with blood alcohol levels at the legal limit. Drivers, it seems, are very distracted trying to steer with one hand, manipulate buttons, and hold a conversation with somebody they can hardly hear. Since I pay my bills working as a road maintenance technician, I spend a lot of time standing alongside the road. Thus, I would love to see the use of cell phones while driving be made illegal. But how do you outlaw looking at mountains? I had another mountain moment just this last Wednesday, while en route to a job site near Arlington on Interstate 5. I wasn't driving, but was engaged in a conversation with a colleague, Howard. He was speaking about a complex problem and was asking my advice. What would you advise I do, in a case like that? he queried. I'm asking you as a friend.I think that September 8 would work out just fine, I responded. Say what? What are you talking about? What's significant about September 8?Well, it's either that or the next week, I said, and I think the snow line is moving up pretty quickly - we should make it to the top on the eighth. Huh? Three Fingers! I said. Can't you see? I'm trying to drive, you idiot GET YOUR ARM OUTTA MY FACE! It didn't matter. He never takes my advice, anyway. I couldn't wait to get home, where I could e-mail my brother, Sherman, with the date. We were going up Three Fingers again! I used to carry a set of binoculars in my lunch box to better view the mountains during breaks, or while traveling. When work took me up Highway 530 near Darrington, I'd pull them out and gaze at the glacier on Whitehorse. Somebody would always object: John, what are you doing? I'm looking up at Whitehorse, I'd say. I want to see the route. Maybe you could sit in the back seat - that way I could move the steering wheel! Do you know you sound just like my wife?The legislature probably will, someday, pass that law about using cell phones while driving. That will make me happy. Binoculars, however, enhance your vision. "

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