I experienced my first “eureka” moment a few weeks ago. You know the one, the idea that’s going to make you rich and solve the world’s problems.
Naturally, it happened while I was stuck in traffic. Congestion may be hell on the emotional state, but it’s great for subconscious problem-solving. What lightning bolt hit me? I’ll elucidate.
Starting in 2012 (assuming the world does not end), I am going to open up a chain of franchise restaurants called “Stop n’ Texts.” There’ll be no actual restaurant, per se, no building with tables and chairs and a kitchen. Instead, there will be exceptionally long drive-thru lanes where North American drivers can indulge in their favourite pastime: texting and web-surfing while trapped in stop-and-go traffic.
I consider the “stop n’ text” manoeuvre a “gateway distraction.” It appears innocuous but can become hard to resist. Like the first puff of whacky tabacky, the “stop n’ text” move initially seems like fun and a nice cure for modern ennui. You’re stuck in traffic, wondering if it would be faster to buy a horse and gallop to work, when you glimpse your best friend (iPhone) sitting seductively on the passenger seat. When you get to a red light – you check your e-mail. Instant gratification.
Pretty soon, instead of seeing traffic lights and stop signs, you’re seeing hashtags and emoticons. Now you’re hooked. It’s the inaugural step toward full-on distracted-driving texting and surfing at 110 km/h on the highway.
My calculations put the potential market for Stop n’ Text restaurants at 100 per cent of drivers. That’s right – 100 per cent – I know, you and I don’t do it but we’re the noble exception. Everyone else is hard at work typing and scrolling along.
Next time you are caught in standstill traffic look around. All you will see are legions of drivers, their chins to their chests, eyes to the lower right, fingers flying, clicking away.
Texting in slow traffic is a little like picking your nose. No one admits to doing it yet everywhere you look you see examples of the behaviour. A recent Leger Marketing survey of 1,344 Canadians 18 years of age and older, commissioned by Kanetix.ca, showed that only 18 per cent of Canadians admitted to texting and talking on the telephone while driving. If you find that figure incredibly low, don’t worry – it is. What the study actually seems to show is that 82 per cent of Canadian drivers aged 18 and over are liars.
In reality, the stop and text habit is responsible for countless fender benders. It can also lead to more serious accidents. Odds are, if you are trapped in traffic, pedestrians and cyclists are weaving through. If your eyes are on your phone and not on the road, you may hit one. Even at a relatively slow speed, you can do some serious damage.
The only cure is to leave your phone in the glove compartment or, if you really lack willpower, locked in the trunk. Remember, a mere 20 years ago, Tweeting, texting, e-mailing, surfing, etc., were not possible while driving. You can live without them. Accept that you are powerless to stop your hand-held predilections and give in to a higher power (common sense).
Or you can visit one of my convenient Stop n’ Text locations. There, in the safety of 3 1/2 kilometres of enclosed drive-thru you can drive and text to your heart’s desire. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not double up and engage in that other behaviour you don’t talk about, all in the luxurious privacy of your automobile.
Last week, a 55-year-old Edmonton man stole an ambulance from a hospital parking lot and went on a joyride. He faces six criminal charges, among them theft of a motor vehicle and impaired driving.
For the record, I want to state that I utterly and completely condemn his offence. It is reckless and dangerous.
I must also state that I, for lack of a better choice of words, “get it.”
I get it.
Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been thrilled by the idea of being a paramedic or a firefighter. Not because I wanted to help anyone or put out fires but because, even before I knew what driving was, I could sense how incredibly cool it would be to drive a speeding fire truck or ambulance through city streets.
To this day, every time I see an ambulance screech past or a fire truck roll by, I think to myself, “Yes! Yes! Go for it man! Live the dream!”
Can there be a better calling? If I speed through the city I will be arrested. If a fireman drives his truck to a four-alarm blaze he’s just doing his job. Imagine a gig where you are not only allowed to speed you are obliged to! It’s your duty! If you don’t drive that shiny red fire truck fast through the city somebody may die.
That’s why I’m throwing my hat in and offering my services to my local fire and ambulance authorities. Fellow selfless people savers, if you need me to drive the truck, I’m there. But I’ve still got to keep it real and be me, so as far as the fighting fires stuff goes, I’m going to say a polite “No thanks.” You can drop me off at the 7-Eleven just before we get there.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy