THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Maureen Anderson Headshot

Defensive Driving Without Leaving the House

Posted: Updated:

I can still see them on our daughter's plate at Perkins, a couple of one-inch pieces of pie crust. My husband was annoyed I wouldn't finish those for her, and I was confused. If it was so important for him not to waste the food, why didn't he finish it? "I'm full," he said. "Well, so am I," I told him.

It was an interesting few minutes, trying to understand why it bothers Darrell to toss even a morsel. Eating a little bit of pie crust in lieu of throwing it away isn't going to making the plight of a starving child any better, I reasoned. But it's the principle, and I grew to respect Darrell for it.

We impressed on Katie one person can, indeed, make a difference. The folks at The Onion seem to agree: "'How Bad for the Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?' 30 Million People Wonder."

That's what I was thinking as we drove through Minneapolis recently. There was the usual crush of people weaving in and out, changing lanes -- or just weaving. On this particular afternoon I realized there was something new at play since I'd last stared out the window pondering traffic. Many if not most of the drivers in this crowd were on cell phones.

What? Wasn't rush-hour traffic exciting enough? Did we really need the added thrill of wondering whether the guy in the next lane had his eyes on the road or his mind on the fight with his wife on the other end of the line?

Riding bumper cars blindfolded sounds fun. In real cars, not so much.

So what do you do? Just complain about it? Darrell and I decided, "No." It wasn't so much the statistics about drivers who use cell phones to text or talk. It was the increasing number of near-misses we had with them.

We decided not to talk with someone if we called him on his cell and found he was driving. We wouldn't be rude about it. If the person on the other end persisted, we'd persist right back -- only long enough not to be rude: "It's not you, it's me. I'd never forgive myself if something happened."

What will it have mattered, that three people -- Darrell, our daughter, and I -- made the decision not to be on the other end of the line with a driver on a cell phone? Like so much in life, we'll probably never know.

But like so much else in life, movements only become movements when one person steps up. And then another, and then another. And then one day maybe it isn't the norm. Maybe the people behind the wheel, if they can't find other people to talk with or text with, will do something else on their phones.

Maybe not.

Regardless, we'll hit our pillows feeling good.

--

In his book, The Star Thrower, Loren Eiseley talks about the day he walked along a sandy beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He noticed a boy picking up the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the sea. Eiseley watched him for a few minutes and then he asked him what he was doing. "I am returning the starfish to the sea," the boy answered. "Otherwise they will die." Eiseley then asked how saving a few starfish would make any difference, since so many of them would eventually die. The boy picked up another starfish and as he threw it back into the water he said, "It'll make a lot of difference to that one."

From Our Partners