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The birds were getting in their daily dose of singing. It was a hot summer day. The kind of day where the sun makes the seats in your car feel like you're touching lava; the type of day where the smell of barbecues and cookouts float through the air leaving your mouth watery and your stomach growling.
I was driving to my friend’s house in Arizona from California. Today was one of those days where I just didn’t have a care in the world; other than the fact that the class cutie Aaron asked for my number in math class the other day. As I drove I felt a vibration in my pocket coming from my phone. I usually never use my phone while driving, but the thought that it might be Aaron changed my mind. I mean, one time couldn’t hurt. I reached into my pocket with one hand on the steering wheel and my eyes on the road.
Gasp. My phone drops into the bottomless pit under my seat. Determined to get it, I try to reach for it as I drive. After five minutes of arm contortions, I find my phone and pull it up as fast as I could as if there were something down there trying to take it back. What I didn’t realize was that while I was reaching for my phone and continuously driving straight, I was on the verge of running a red light. Luckily I was able to pound my foot on the break and stop just in time. I look through my windows and side-view mirrors to make sure there isn’t a police officer close by. I grab my phone and open the text that I was waiting for. It was from Aaron and it said “hey.” Oh my gosh! I began to feel both nausea and anxiety. I gaze into the sky and I begin to create a visual image in my head of Aaron and I holding hands and frolicking through flower fields in slow motion.
The sound of the horns from angry drivers awakens me from my imagination. I forgot I was driving at the moment, good thing I was only at a red light, I think to myself. I get on the freeway hoping there are no accidents to create traffic so I can get to my friends house. I drive, and drive, and drive. This is one of those freeways that look the same for many miles containing the same rocky mountains with blue-sky landscapes; it was only on a rare occasion when I would see a cloud.
Yawn. I breathe in and out tired air as if it was nature calling for me to take a nap. I turn on the radio to keep me focused. “Dance with me. On the clouds. In the sky. Just dance with me,” I sing. This song was my favorite song as a child it brings back so many memories. It’s one of those party songs that makes me dance. I start tapping my feet forgetting I have to press the gas pedal as well as brake. I turn off the radio.
There goes my phone again. I figure since this is an open road, and there are only like three cars in the distance, this gives me a chance to look at my texts and reply. I take out my phone and there's a text from Aaron asking if I was okay. I text back “yes, I’m just driving, I’ll...” Skreeeech. I hear loud shrieks of tires in the distance. I look up. Gasp.
CRASH, BOOM, BANG!
Beep, Beep, Beep.
I wake up to the sound of my heart monitor beeping, as the smell of blood and latex enveloped my nostrils. All I could remember was that I was sending a text that was supposed to end with TTYL (talk to you later). The text could have waited. Now I’m in the hospital, hurt yes, but not as hurt as the family that was taking their kids to Disneyland. They were the family that I hit into because I was worried about a stupid text. The family that will have one less gift to give to their child from Santa Claus. This family is missing their eight-year-old son because I needed to look at a text message; a text that didn’t have to be viewed. Now it is I who has to live with the guilt and shame of what I have done.
You know, there are ways to prevent such incidents. When you drive, watch the road at all times. If you drop something, let it be, or if you absolutely need it, pull over somewhere safe to get it; never reach for something while you are driving and not looking. If you know you will get tempted to text someone, keep your phone somewhere you know you can’t reach, like the glove department while driving. Driving while distracted is not safe for you or for anybody else on the road. Do you think you can wait?