Hi. It’s me.
I’m a human being who sometimes writes editorials like this one. Late middle-aged guy, 55, married, four kids in the family, kids that are now spread well across the country and making their own lives, no one living at home in the spare room just right now.
I try to take care of myself. I fail, often. I eat too many unhealthy things, pretend I don’t drink too much, make promises to myself about fitness and stress, tell the doctor things that are mostly the truth (perhaps shined up a bit more than they should be for legitimate diagnosis).
"The very first that he would have known that I was even there was the soft thump of his car hitting middle-aged me."
For my family, I think, the most important thing is that I’m reachable; they can message me, call me if they need help. I’d like them to always be able to do that — well, at least I hope they can until they’re safely and fully on their feet. I know they think a lot of my advice is old-guy stuff. I remember thinking exactly the same thing about my father when I was the same age my kids are.
Last Thursday, walking home, I was in a crosswalk when a taxicab made a right turn directly in front of me — if I hadn’t stopped quickly, he would have hit me. He didn’t see me. I know that because I was on the driver’s side of his cab, and the cellphone he was holding up and looking at was in his right hand, so that he was looking away from me. The very first that he would have known that I was even there was the soft thump of his car hitting middle-aged me.
Twenty minutes later, at another crosswalk, I was already off the curb and on the white lines when the car next to me jumped into traffic: it was a young guy, by which I mean younger than me, wearing a business suit and driving an Audi sedan. By then, it was dark, the early dark of mid-winter, and in that darkness, I could see the smart phone in his hand, brightly lit in the dark of the car, and I could see the angle of his face, turned down, his eyes locked on the small screen. Only the fact that I was paying attention — already jumpy from near-miss No. 1 — kept him from hitting me. I’m certain he never did see me.
Tuesday, I stepped in front of a mid-sized SUV stopped at a traffic light, its driver face-down in the all-important world of her phone as her car continued to roll slowly forward into the intersection, pressing against the side of my leg.
She waved an embarrassed apology. Drove quickly away when the light changed.
It’s me. A human being.
Sooner or later, you’re going to kill or injure me. For a text message.
Will it really be worth it?