Driving While Trumpeting: Car as Living Room
On a 200-mile drive on I-95 recently, I saw three of my fellow motorists bombing along at 60-plus mph while doing things I had never quite seen before:
--A man in a small, oldish Toyota had a paperback book perched against the top of his steering wheel and was engrossed in a novel--it appeared to be science fiction from the art on the cover, but I couldn't get close enough to get a title or author--for an extended period as I drove near him. I did see him turn the page twice over the course of about six minutes.
Now, I've seen plenty of folks reading the paper (and that of course is an Official Encouraged Activity here on Raw Fisher) while driving (not quite so encouraged), but that generally happens in stop-and-go commuting traffic, not on the wide open, middle-of-the-day interstate, as in this case. And a newspaper can at least be scanned, dipped into--you can glance at headlines in the moments when traffic is at a halt. But this guy was engrossed in a novel and had clearly settled in for a long read on a long drive. It's pretty much the scariest distracted driving scene I've encountered.
--Then I saw Movie Man, who had rigged a laptop to the top of his dashboard just right of the steering wheel so that he could watch a DVD full screen while shooting along 95 at about 70 mph. It appeared to be a Bruce Lee flick. Movie Man managed to maintain reasonable lane coverage while taking in the movie. I've seen TVs set up in the space next to the driver's seat, but this full-screen, drive-in theater-style experience was a new one for me. But I've saved the best for last:
--A guy in a beautiful 1965 Bonneville kept his thighs pressed against the steering wheel for stability while leaning forward and holding his shiny brass trumpet over the top of the wheel as he played the instrument at a volume high enough for me to hear bits of his (quite good) tunes when I passed him.
Trumpet Man kept this up for at least the five to seven minutes when I was in his general area. One of his hands occasionally came to rest on the top of the steering wheel, but generally, he was able to do his fingering and blow while keeping the car moving in a fairly straight direction. He appeared to be someone who had done this before.
As astonishing and frightening as such sights can be on the highway, I feel obliged to report that all three of these fellas were driving fairly well. The swervers and drifters I encountered on this trip were all--every single one of them--deeply engrossed in cell conversations. For all the wacky and dumb behavior we see on the road as people spend more and more of their waking hours in the vehicle, it's the cellphone far more than anything else that deeply and dangerously distracts folks from the task at hand.
What have you seen people doing on the road lately?
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