Fools to the Slaughter

by Ted Gargiulo — Remember the days before the Internet, before computers and electronic devices brought meaning to our shallow little lives, when folks undertook no more than one chore at a time?  Take driving a car, for example. Time was when just navigating from point A to point B without running over a dog, or plummeting down a ravine, was challenging enough and required no enhancement.

If there were fewer imbeciles on the road back then, maybe it was because motorists were less distracted than they are today. They gave operating a car their undivided attention (those who weren’t intoxicated), and saw that task to completion before attempting another. Moreover, if kids seemed better behaved, it might have been that their parents weren’t juggling so many activities at once that they hadn’t time to give them the attention and upbringing they deserved.  
Ah, but then came the mobile communicator: the greatest saboteur of human judgment since booze. Think about it. Other than Broderick Crawford on that 50s TV show, “Highway Patrol,” talking on a phone was something people of my parents’ generation simply didn’t do in their cars. And the idea of typing messages to one’s friends and associates while operating a potentially dangerous machine? Patently insane! Nothing like a healthy fear of annihilation to keep drivers focused.

So, when the hell did everyone suddenly have so much to say to one another, so much business to transact at any given moment, that they couldn’t wait till they got home or reached the office to send and receive messages? Used to be, people took to the road to get away from that stuff.  Now they haul some freaking “smart” device around with them everywhere they go so they won’t miss anything. Little by little, distraction and self-indulgence have been elevated to a religious experience! Not only do drivers talk and text, they surf the Web, download maps, check the weather, play Pokémon Go, record videos and post their mugs on social media—anything to engage their minds and make their travel experience tolerable and more productive. 

Alack the heavy day when the sacred mission of piloting a vehicle—of focusing on the road as though one’s life (and the lives of others) actually depended on it—had devolved to such a demeaning waste of time, such a colossal BORE, that drivers would rather die than be disciplined.  Ever think a time would come when safety, basic good sense and a respect for human life (including one’s own) had to be legislated? Like, you’ve gotta TELL motorists not to get behind the wheel when they’re hammered? COMPEL them to use seat belts? Practically BEG cyclists to wear protective headgear? I don’t get it.

Recent statistics reveal that some 3000 people perish in wrecks every year due to distracted driving. That texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving drunk. Personally, I would no more distract myself while driving than stick my genitals in a wall socket.  Yet, today’s multi-taskers are fearless, bereft of reason, undeterred by logic, unfazed by statistics, oblivious to warnings, indifferent to laws, indifferent to penalties, and chillingly adept at convincing themselves that they’re in control. 

If these cattle refuse to wise up, then I say let’s fatten them up! Because the day of their slaughter is at hand!

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