Well, well. Here I am again! How's everyone doing?
I'm just fine, but I'm in a rather morbid mood though, so be advised. Dunno why, I just am.
By the way, this is not a post on the evils of distracted driving, although I will digress a bit before I get to the meat of this post.
The story behind the title is linked a bit farther down the page.
Distracted driving has been going on for years. It all started decades ago when car makers started putting A.M. radios in cars. How terrible. "People shouldn't listen to the radio and drive" people would say. "Drivers need to pay attention to the road" they would say.
Then came 8-tracks and cassettes, and people killed themselves swapping tapes while driving. Then there were C.B.s. And headphones. And earbuds. And cellular telephones. And smart phones. And in-dash consoles that do about everything but take the wheel. What's next? Dunno. More gadgets I'm sure.
Then of course there are all the usual distractions like shaving, putting on makeup, eating breakfast, sipping coffee, reading the newspaper or a book, even changing clothes on the way to a date after work. The shit has been going on for years and try as they might, lawmakers just can't legislate away stupidity.
No, this is not a post about distractions, it's a post about slow motion.
So, you may have heard about one of the latest Darwin Award winner, Taylor Sauer.
She ended up killing herself because she was trying to carry on a conversation on Facebook using her smart phone as she was flying down the highway 80 miles an hour in her car. She was headed home from college in one state to visit her parents in another.
She assholed a tanker truck that was only able to go about 15 miles per hour up a hill.
So back to the subject I had intended for this post. Slow motion.
Cactus Mark and I were discussing this a couple weeks ago, and I've thought about it a time or two since. It makes for an interesting subject, at least in my mind.
You've heard people talk about - or even experienced - "their life passing before their eyes" as something traumatic happened. It seems that even if you trip and fall down, a bit of adrenaline zaps the system and you clearly see what is going to happen and what your options are as your heart and mind are racing.
I was recently carrying something heavy that took me off balance and trapped my legs so that I couldn't just step off to the side and get out of the way. So I toppled over. Rather ungracefully I might add. I wasn't hurt bad - other than my pride, just a couple gnarly bruises that gave Mrs Curmudgeon cause to chew my ass out for being stupid and too proud to ask for help.
I relate this episode because as soon as I was in that predicament and knew I was going down, I started thinking about what to do to minimize the damage.
I saw the trapped legs, saw the gravel covered ground where I was going to fall, swung my arms around to help catch my fall, bent my knees so they wouldn't get hung up, and bent my waist so the soft part of my hips (i.e., fat of my ass) would hit the ground first. Everything was totally under control.
Yeah. Right. This all took place in 1 second or less. Tip, thump.
I was at the mercy of The Maker and Newton's law. You know. You've been there and done that.
The point is, It all happened in slow motion in my mind. I could see it all happening in advance.
I travel quite a bit what with my weekend trips to our cabin, and it isn't uncommon at all to see some car upside-down off in the sagebrush and weeds somewhere. And of course there are the daily reports of "blah blah blah street is closed due to a rollover/multi-car crash/fatal accident/pedestrian involved/motorcycle driving erratically/high rate of speed/alcohol involved".
Whenever I hear or see something along those lines, I wonder what the person thought as it was happening. I wonder if that person got to experience the slo-mo sensation or if they were so distracted it happened before they knew it.
Unless of course you are totally unaware, in which case you're already on the ground, in the ambulance or in the morgue, the first thought is probably something like "SHEEEEIIIT!". Then you start thinking "Okay, this is what's happening. I can't stop and I can't change direction. I'll just stiffen up and hang on. I'm going to hit, so I should position myself just so to minimize impact."
Yeah, a lot of that happens reflexively, but even so, you still think it or envision it, however you put it.
So I always wonder when I see these wrecks. Besides various auto parts, what was the last thing to pass through their mind? Did they realize what was going to happen?
Did Taylor glance up at just the last millisecond and see a truck trailer and think "OH NO! I'm going too fast! I can't stop! Dammit, I shouldn't have been typing. Let me try steering and slamming on the brakes!"
The police report said there were no skid marks. So even if her foot was moving to the brake, it didn't get there in time.
So did she look up or was she just ... gone?
Sticking Up For Our Constitution
3 years ago