I have an embarrassing confession that I hope won’t make you think ill of me but, given the title above, I can’t keep the secret any longer. Here goes … I don’t text. That’s right. And even worse, I don’t have a cell phone either. Never have.
I can just picture some of you right about now switching to the crossword puzzle. And I suppose I can’t blame you. What’s the point to reading the thoughts of someone so completely out of touch with modern technology that he actually talks to people rather than finger typing “r u home?”
My aversion to texting may have begun one sunny summer day ten years ago on Main Street. I was walking my Golden Retriever buddy, the late Oscar de la Rascal, and we were in the cross walk when I looked up in horror. While one car was slowing down, the driver in the other lane headed right for us and he was looking down, not ahead. He was texting! Talk about helpless. Screaming, I got in front of Oscar and crouched like a stunt man. (Like suddenly an old Jewish guy turns into a stuntman.)
At the last minute the distracted driver jammed on his brakes. Let me tell you, the screeching noise was so terrifying I discovered adrenaline I didn’t know I had. I was so wired I felt like, if need be, I jump over the car. Fortunately, the vehicle stopped about three feet from me.
Adrenaline still pumping, I rushed over to rip the driver’s head off or, at a minimum, stomp on his cellphone. (I noticed a boogie board in the backseat). Shaken himself, he apologized profusely (big deal) and drove off, seemingly terrified as well by what almost happened.
Still furious, I watched his car head toward Ocean Park Blvd. with his left turn signal on. On the hunch that he might be going to the beach and my anger still boiling, I took off running toward a shortcut. Oscar was gleefully at my side like, “Hey, this beats just walking any day!”
Sure enough, I saw his car in line waiting to pay at the beach parking lot. I ran up and opened his driver’s side door. He was shocked to see me, especially after I demanded he give me his cell phone. He apologized again and said meekly, “But I didn’t hit you, did I?” Grr. That made me even madder.
The car behind us started honking and it finally dawned on me that I was essentially acting like a mad man. I slammed his door with such force I was hoping it would come off the hinge. As we walked home Oscar looked at me as if to say, “That was fun, now what?”
Just a few weeks ago, I came across another texting scenario on Main Street, but, thankfully, this was far more benign. Nobody was in any danger except for a few 20-something drunk revelers at 2 a.m. I was busy getting copies of my column in Friday’s paper that I distribute to a handful of neighbors in my building who’ve requested it over the years. (Does Maureen Dowd deliver door to door, you ask? I don’t imagine.)
Even at that hour, Main Street was hopping, to the degree you could almost smell the alcohol in the air and definitely the cigarette smoke. (So much for our strict anti-smoking ordinance.) But what amused me most was watching various young, inebriated pedestrians, like in a Charlie Chaplin movie, try to walk and text at the same time. It was hilarious as they bumped into strangers, into a trash can and one almost directly into a tree. Apparently, while drunk, one may be able to chew bubble gum and walk, it doesn’t seem to work for texting.
While it may be terrific for business and admittedly terrific people watching, Main Street has gotten a bit out of control. I live at the west end of the Shores but my neighbors closest to Main Street frequently post on Next Door “Help!” or “Can anyone spare ear plugs.” In the battle between quality of life and commerce, life is losing so badly, if it was boxing, the ref would stop it on a TKO.
Another unsettling development on Main Street is the rather menacing-looking bouncers at certain bars. I’ve seen one occurrence and a friend witnessed another of bouncers unceremoniously “escorting” rowdy customers off the premises with a huge heave ho. It’s like Dodge City only there’s no Marshall Dillon. Actually, if you get that last reference you’re probably as old as I am. So, I will just bid adieu until next week because it might be past our bedtimes.
Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.