Thursday, September 19, 2013


I think folks who grow up on farms are pretty aware of what goes on around them. They have to be; there’s too many ways to get hurt on a farm if you don’t pay attention. Plus, there are so many ways for your pets and livestock to get hurt and your equipment damaged. Besides, there’s so much to see and hear there, what normal person WOULDN’T want to keep their eyes and ears open? Of course if you fish or hunt, that awareness is taken to a whole new level. You watch for shadows in the water, try to read the current to predict how a bait or fly might drift, and watch for the little circles that tell you when a fish is nibbling your bait. You listen for the sound of walking deer or foraging squirrels or turkeys. And, you watch for the flip of a deer’s ear or tail, or for the same actions of the much smaller squirrels. Still, even city kids used to be at least somewhat aware of their surroundings. They were taught to watch and listen for traffic, they knew the sound of the ice cream truck, or the factory whistle that signaled that their dad would soon be home for work. Not so, today’s kids.

The other day, my wife and I were tooling along on a back road near the river when we overtook a young woman of about 20 years of age on a bicycle. She was pedaling along wearing ears-buds, no doubt listening to whatever music moved or motivated her. No–one was coming from the other direction, so I pulled into the far lane to give her plenty of room as I passed. She looked a bit scared as I went by and swerved off the road slightly. In my rearview mirror, I could see that she just as quickly swerved back onto the pavement and right into the path of the car behind us. Only good reflexes on the part of the other driver kept the girl from ending up as just another grease-spot on the pavement. Watching as best I could in the mirror, I saw no evidence that she ever considered taking out her ear-buds so that she could hear the traffic around her.

Later that same evening, we watched a teenage boy pick his way through three lanes of heavy traffic while still trying to keep an eye on his cell phone. He saw that the three lanes of traffic going our way were too heavy to cross yet, so he stood there in the suicide lane (turn lane) in the center of the street texting, as he waited for a space to open up, so he could amble between the cars.

Understand, these are not unusual happenings; I see such things every day. For instance, I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen some young person (and even some grey-headed folks) jogging down the sidewalk wearing their earbuds, who would never even glance to see if any cars are coming before they dashed out into a cross-street. I could probably pay my next month’s utility bills! I’ve witnessed several dangerously close encounters with that scenario.

I realize that most parents today absolutely do not teach their kids ANYTHING, but after a certain age, that’s no excuse. We’re all responsible for our own safety. If we refuse to accept that responsibility, some of us will leave this life prematurely; it happens every day. © 2013


Keith H. Burgess said...

Good post Gorges, & I totally agree. Looking & listening is a part of life in the country, but this use of plug in music & mobile phones is gaining ground.
Regards, Keith.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Have you ever seen Phil Robertson on Duck Dynasty, the three of us would agree concerning your subject. The only thing I put in my ears are hearing protection.

Gorges Smythe said...

I'm afraid we're going to have a lot of deaf folks in another 20 years, too, Keith.

I've never watched it, SF, my wife owns the remote! ;-)

deborah harvey said...

hi. every year there are the darwin awards. true stories about those who were knocked out by survival of the fittest [smartest].
so often young people walk into the street in front of you, never look until the braking and honking cause them to look.
older people do stupid things also.
i was driving on 680 in youngstown. very curvy and heavily travelled when i glanced in the rear view mirror and saw the man behind me was driving without looking where he was going. i told my husband to look into that car when it passed us, between us and a delivery truck in a tight spot. the guy was typing on his computer with one hand , talking into a hands-free phone and passing between 2 vehicles at speed, all at the same time.
he had to be 50 or close to it.
the problem is they always kill innocent bystanders when they finally wreck, or cause others to veer off the road and they keep going.
we all may need to get those dashboard cams like the russians have.
looking into the rear view has saved us several times. i wish i had eyes in the back of my head, too.

deb harvey

Gorges Smythe said...

Sadly, dh, age doesn't ALWAYS bring wisdom.