If you guessed my car, you guessed wrong. Today's the day! Here in California we are no longer allowed to drive while we talk on our cellular telephones. There is a loophole, wherein you can continue this habit while using a "hands-free device." More to the point, it is illegal to use hand-held telephones while driving. If you get caught, you will get a ticket for seventy-six to one hundred twenty-five dollars.
My love for cell phones is well known and documented. I maintain that I prefer to have periods of every day when I am not available by phone. For many years, this meant that I simply did not own a cell phone, and anyone who needed to talk to me had to wait until I could get back to them on a land line. A few years back, I joined the wireless community and bought my own leash. I used it primarily as a classroom management tool, using it to call parents of unruly students directly from my classroom. The installation of telephones in our classrooms has made the need for me to run up a bill for calls to the homes of recalcitrant youth avoidable. Something about going to the corner of the room with your teacher to call your parents has a little harder edge.
I don't use my cell phone to make calls from my car, since I don't drive very much. When I do, I look forward to the chance to use another electronic appliance, the stereo. Playing music in my car will always be more important to me than talking on the phone.
What about emergencies? If it were an actual emergency, I imagine that pulling over would be the most prudent advice in the first place. Watching people come out of the door of their house, opening the door of their car, and dialing a number on their phone always amazes me. This is usually done with a handful of coffee and other detritus, making the task even more challenging. Then they start up the car and roll off down the street, continuing their juggling act until they reach their destination, at which point they feel free to hang up long enough to fill their hands with another armload of distractions before they begin their next call.
Last night on the news, I hear a seventeen-year-old, who was studying for his driver's test, complain bitterly about the part of this new law that makes it illegal for anyone under eighteen to use a cell phone, hands-free or not, while driving. "It's just unfair," he moaned. It's another way for the man to keep us down. To that kid I say, "Fight the power." Get in your cars and start dialing. Can the Highway Patrol keep up with all those people with phones to their heads? Or is it just a conspiracy by the Bluetooth folks to sell us more of those hands-free implants?