Hey, guys? I need you to trust me for a minute here. I’m going to ask you to do something, and I promise it’s going to make sense by the end of this post. Ok? Here goes:
1. Please stop whatever you’re doing and get a piece of masking tape, or a sticky note, or a piece of paper and some clear tape, or whatever you have handy that enables you to make a sign that you can affix to something else. It doesn’t need to be big or fancy, though you’ll be able to make it as ornate as you want in step #3.
2. Grab a pen, or a Sharpie, or a crayon, or whatever writing implement you happen to have nearby. It can be any color you want.
3. On your masking tape/sticky note/etc, please write–in great big, highly visible, as-fancy-as-you-want-them-to-be letters–a single word or short phrase that represents the person, place, or thing that is most critically important to you in the entire world (yes, you can have more than one. I’m not about to ask you to choose between your children). It can be anything you want: a loved one’s name, a concept like “freedom”, a destination like “the lake house”, anything at all–just aim for something that is so important to you that you would punch a charging rhinoceros in the face for it. This is the step where you can decorate your sign if you want to. Be as plain or as fancy as you like; it’s your art project, after all. You’re in charge here.
4. Now take your spiffy new sign to your car. If you’re being a naughty ninja and reading this at work, it’s ok to wait until your next break; but at the very next opportunity, go immediately to your vehicle with your sign in hand. Do not wait until tomorrow. Do it now.
5. Affix your sign to the interior of your car in a super-visible and easily reachable place. Your dashboard will probably work well for this.
Got it? Is your sign in place, or conveniently located so that you can go put it in place at the very next opportunity?
Good. Now here’s how you use it:
The next time you are driving your car and your cell phone rings, I want you to touch that sign you just made and say aloud–right out loud in front of god and everybody– “You are more important to me than this phone call”. Then let the call go to voice mail. If it is important, they will leave a message. If it’s not, your caller ID will let you know who it was. If it really is a call of critical importance, such as the hospital calling to ask you for your medical proxy decision about a loved one, they will understand if you wait until you can pull into a parking lot before calling them back. Heck, if the caller is a decent human being at all they will understand if you wait to pull into a parking lot before calling them back.
Here’s the deal: the other night, Moon Man and I were heading home from having Grand Adventures (usually this means going to dinner, seeing a movie, playing games at a coffeeshop–our sense of adventure is really pretty tame). As we drove down the street, we noticed that the driver ahead of us seemed to be drunk–they were weaving all over the place, having a heckuva time maintaining a consistent speed, etc–and as we passed them during one of their doing-20-in-a-45-zone stints, we noticed that the driver was on her cell phone.
Let’s get really honest with ourselves for a moment, gang. We’ve talked about this before, how I think one of the highest forms of respect is prioritizing safety over my text message, and that post got circulated and reposted and people were all “YEAH THIS IS TRUE PREACH ON I AGREE WOOOOO”…but seriously, if you’re really, truly, totally honest in your soul, how many of you actually ignore your phone while you’re driving? How many of you absolutely refuse to respond to your ringtone while you’re behind the wheel? How many of you truly never even peek at the text message?
Google “adults more likely to text and drive” if you’ve got a sec. See those 283 million results? Yeah, they’re pointing to something important: we spend all our time telling our kids and telling each other to hang up the phone, but somehow we’re all so convinced of our own superiority that we don’t think the rules apply to us. We tell ourselves that unlike the 16-year-old, we can totally multitask. We can have a conversation while we drive with no problem. We can absolutely answer one quick, easy text message, because we are grownups and we can handle it.
But you know what? No, you can’t. The lady swerving all over the road demonstrated that. The people in those PSA commercials demonstrate it.
The Mythbusters proved it, guys, that driving while talking on the phone is as dangerous as drunk driving. It didn’t even get a “plausible”–it got a full-on “confirmed”. You know it’s a big deal when the Mythbusters prove it.
So make your sign, and stick it somewhere visible in your car, and the next time you’re tempted to think you are the one and only person on the road who can truly handle being on the phone while you’re behind the wheel, think again. Then touch your sign, get your priorities back in order, and let the call go to voicemail and the text sit unread.
Thank you in advance for enabling me to get safely back to the person whose name on my own sign. I promise I’ll do everything I can to enable you to get back to the person named on yours.