Recently I took my son’s car in for its monthly check-up. Can someone tell me why BMWs’ hemorrhage so much oil? How many different hoses, gaskets, and housings are there that can leak? I have counted six so far, but I’m sure there are more to discover. Anyway, since the repair shop is near my home, I decided to walk home and watch the drive-by world drive by.
It was a strange new world, walking along on the sidewalk. Wow, so boring just walking along. So I did something that was natural in my 2013 life, I started texting. First thing I learned was how difficult it is to text while walking. I am not the most graceful person, so the bouncing up and down with each step, made it almost impossible to type efficiently. Even with spell check correcting every other word, I was struggling to communicate without focused concentration on my iPhone. I had to stand still to input the big words. With my head down, I could not see obstacle after obstacle – curbs, signposts, a jogger, even a cat that didn’t seem eager to move out of my way, that kept coming up like videogame villains. Everyone has seen videos of people banging into things while text walking. I’m here to tell you it’s really easy.
Halfway home and miraculously mishap free. I put the smartphone in my pocket and decided to people watch. The line of slowly moving cars along Johnson Ferry Road provided a rich source of voyeuristic experiences that was well worth observing. Here are some of the highlights from looking into the windows of more than one hundred cars on their way to work on a Tuesday morning:
- One-hundred percent of the drivers were unaware that I was staring at them, even though we were twenty feet apart and I could see their faces as closely as the camera shots of Sandra Bullock’s face in Gravity. Takeway: nobody in a car looks at the sidewalk or realizes they exist in a fishbowl.
- Majority of the cars were single occupant
- The two most common facial expressions – bored and stressed.
- At least 75% of the drivers were doing something else besides driving.
- Texting was the most popular activity, and there were several different techniques. Hands balancing the smartphone on the steering wheel, phone on the passenger seat with a quick glance up and down repeatedly, waiting until a hard stop before texting then stopping.
- More women than men were holding/talking on their mobile phones while driving. Most were talking rapidly.
- More men than women were hands free talking on their mobile phones while driving. Most looked uninterested.
- Nobody was eating. Lots of drinking however, coffee and sodas with straws.
- A few miscellaneous makeup appliers, hair combers, and tie straighteners, radio adjusters.
- The happiest car: a man engaged in a lively discussion with this two kids in the backseat
- Unexpected: a teenager/twentysomething who was just driving, no diversions.
Anyway, for better or worse ( mostly worse) it seems that people have integrated “TextTalkandDrive” into their daily commutes – and survived. The same can’t be said for Texting While Walking. I will not do it again, unless I am surrounded by nothing as far as I can see.