Americans behave pretty badly if the accounts of many professional behavioral studies and news and witness stories are believed. Believed? There is enough traffic violation, photographic evidence and violence evidence, enough prescriptions for behavioral/ anger management in the world of the so-called hero/celebrity (and we admire these people?), and plenty to balk at when we just do our best to walk around and drive safely.

Some of us walk about and drive safely, that is.

Though the corporate companies with their big talk and snazzy ads would rather we not believe that devices are unsafe, in fact they are among the least safe inventions we have been plagued with in the past few years. Incorrect use of phones, computers, and other devices is epidemic in this nation and such behavior must be curbed in order for everyone to feel again a sense of safety and courtesy.

Have you heard the ads that speak to the aspect of driving safety to the effect of going the length of a football field in five seconds? When you gaze down at a screen and you are in motion at say 50 miles an hour (in an hour you would get from Chicago to past Lombard at constant speed, for example) you take your eyes off the road long enough to endanger dozens of cars and people.

In my engawa and through this genkan you must not enter if there is any trace of ego or arrogance… and you may enter even if you are oppressed by such behavioral problems as those and others experienced by people who are in the early stages of ego development and proper socialization. Certainly do not confuse being social and properly socialized with the use of “social media”, among the most antisocial methods of communication and interaction seen around since the telephone was invented.

In Chicago there was an incident that made me pause and consider just how poor our judgment is on the use of the cell phone/ tablet/ pod devices. In the Loop one day there was a young woman crossing and looking down while she was walking, refusing to look up or obey the worker who was signaling her not to cross because there was work going on and vehicles present and in motion. But what did she do? She did not look up, nor did she acknowledge the worker’s presence or say anything. How bratty, rude and disgusting, like many Americans seem to be. And the antisocial epidemic seems to be getting worse by the day; there is a sense of indifference and dishonor.

It is winter in Chicago, and our city is under a winter storm warning. Conditions will not be safe through this week. It is imperative that everyone – pedestrians and drivers be even more alert and on focus than ever. These are the basics of courteous practices when you are out in such a situation:

Do not use any cellular devices when walking. You must pay attention to traffic, to icy spots on sidewalks and uneven sidewalks, construction zones, and other walkers.

Do not use cellular devices when driving. Having a phone of any sort in the hand or so-called hands free still diverts attention from the road. Stop and then use the device and put it aside the moment your car is in motion. Nothing on that impersonal glowing screen is worth your life or endangering the lives of others.

Do not go out unless it is essential to do so. Roads are slippery and there is the potential for ice buildup; black ice is that glazed appearance on a cold wet road that looks like water but is in fact ice. You must refresh yourself with how to drive in these conditions and follow those Rules of the Road you learned in driving school. If necessary, go back to driving school. You should go back and learn how to drive if you do any of the following:

  • Use cellular devices
  • Forget to pull over for first responders/ go thorough intersections despite hearing sirens and seeing lights
  • Drive through crossways when the walk signal is on
  • Drive with one hand on the wheel and a device in the other
  • Take your eyes off the road to look at a device
  • Drive through crossways where people are present
  • Try to drive across railroad tracks to “beat the train”
  • Pull out in front of city busses. It is illegal to turn right in front of a CTA bus.

Watch, walk, drive, and cross those streets with full and undivided attention to that task at that moment as though your life depends on being careful, being attentive, and understanding what a winter storm warning means. It means icy, snowy, slippery conditions are happening that are hazardous for the unprepared to be out driving and walking. Consider your life and you will consider with care the lives of others.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2016.

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