Saturday, 26 July 2008

Rerun: The World is My Ashtray?

I'm down to the last ten posts before I reach my 1,000th blog entry. That is amazing!

I've been doing this since August 2005, and like anything else, it began slowly... a post here, a rant there, days of inactivity... now, I log in to Blogger first thing when I get home. There is always something to say, something to copy, whatever.

Fishing through my older posts to find the 2006 trip to the Hot Air Balloon Festival, where we are going today, I found one of my other early August 2006 posts, entitled The World is My... Ashtray? Reading it was funny - nothing has changed. Two years later I am still fuming about the same thing!

"How did this happen?

After a particularly trying day at work, dealing with some knotty issues, I find that the commute home was fraught with little examples of all kinds of annoying, stupid and of course, outright dangerous behaviours that were staggering in their stupidity! Not that this is unusual... nay, it appears to be normal, thoughtless behaviour perpetrated by so many people who are wholly unaware of the terrible habits and behaviours they possess.

Poor driving is the hallmark of the American roadways. There was a time, not too long ago, when you could blame it on NYC drivers or DC drivers, who definitely are imbued with that "kill or be killed" mentality when driving anywhere. The deeply ingrained sets of driving skills required in Manhattan, Washington DC, or any metropolitan area are unlike any others and while it is what works inside those cities, it is not so good to apply those same techniques to the rest of the world - even northern New Jersey is not as much a "running the guantlet" kind of thing as driving inside of Manhattan!

But when you throw the millions of technological toys into the mix, and the sudden thinking that smokers' should all have clean cars (not possible), we have suddenly lost our ability to be just annoyances along the road of life.

Cell Phones
At what point in time did it occur to someone that having the utter distraction that only a cell phone can provide be an acceptable risk when driving? Talk about not thinking that one through. A device that allows one to yak away about their vacuous day while actually operating a 1500lb vehicle should have at least jumped up as a possible red flag as not being safe. Someone did finally figure this out and the outcome was making cell phones while driving is only allowed if a hands-free kit is involved. Ths does not fix in any way the utter distraction issue that really makes drivers do a plethora of stupid things behind the wheel, but I suspect the government thought it was a start.
After some time (and the rather obvious fact that everyone across the board ignores this edict), the cell phone offence was just a secondary offence and the perp had to be pulled over for a primary offense... such as speeding. If the officer who pulled the offending party wished, he could issue various types of secondary tickets, such as for tinted windows, cell phone usage, no safety belt on, obstruction of view (something hanging from the rear-view mirror), etc. At this point, driving with one cell phone on is in the works as becoming a primary offense. I'll be thrilled when it is...

Baby on Board stickers/hanging signs
OK, honestly. Do you really, honestly, deep down inside think for even a floating, fleeing moment that anyone sees that stupid yellow sign in a car's or truck's window indicating the possible presence of a small child inside and suddenly turns into the Mary Poppins of drivers? Hmmm? No? Yes, I don't buy that for a second, either. And quite frankly, if you are nice enough to suddenly cease tailgating parents, then why aren't you person enough to stop tailgating altogether? Or is that sort of poor driving perfectly acceptable somewhere else? I tend to doubt it...

And that brings us to...

Expectorant and tossing cigarette butts out the window
And this is socially acceptable how?

Today, driving home on Whippany Road, the white service vehicle in the right lane, just a head of me, suddenly opened its window. Instead of seeing a hand or the side of the driver's head appear, I saw the drivers head jerk back suddenly out of sight and then a huge wad of expectorant come flying out to arch suddenly and fall with resounding SPLAT on the street in front of me. OH, YE GODS, WHO WAS RAISED TO THINK THAT THIS IS ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR?! I was sickened and disgusted by it. Here is a person who needs to be pulled over for being criminally disgusting and unsanitary!

Shortly after that, I must have ended up behind every possible smoker with a vehicle in the area... in concert, they all finished their cigarette butt and happily sent it sailing out of the open driver's side window to festoon the streets with more unwanted disgusting used up cigarettes. I do recall that all cars had ashtrays and recepticles to hold the ash cast-offs and left over unsmokable parts. That now seems to be passé, out of vogue, so instead the world is every smoker's ashtray.

Your honor, I object!"

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