GALEN HOLLEY: Being careless behind the wheel is a sin

By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

“The roads squirmed with traffic. The cities were so dense with people that all attention had to be devoted to not hitting anyone or not being hit. …
The traffic struck me like a tidal wave and carried me along, a bit of shiny flotsam bounded in front by a gasoline truck half a block long. Behind me was an enormous cement mixer on wheels, its big howitzer revolving as it proceeded. On my right was what I judged to be an atomic cannon. As usual I panicked and got lost.”
– John Steinbeck, from “Travels with Charley”

I cringe every time I merge onto I-240 East. It’s awful. It’s like the Autobahn without all the suffocating regulations. It’s like Talladega. It’s nerve-racking.
Think of the start of the Kentucky Derby, when the bell rings and the chutes open and 20 or so thundering beasts, frothing at the mouth, charge out with apocalyptic fury jostling each other and trying not to fall and be stomped into dog food.
To say that people drive aggressively between I-40 East and I-55 South on the southeast side of Memphis is like saying the Huns were a bit coarse.
There’s a particular driving style I’ve noticed in Memphis. Southerners know that Atlanta traffic is its own special kind of torture, but in Memphis aggressive drivers seem to glory in weaving in and out of law-abiding citizens at hypersonic speeds, passing them on the right, getting as close as possible to their bumpers before blazing into the distance like a jet leaving the deck of an aircraft carrier.
I liken it to running with the bulls in Pamplona, where I’m told the object is to get as close to the bull as possible, actually laying a hand on the rampaging beast if one can, while somehow avoiding the karmic justice of being impaled on one of the horns.
Two weeks ago a young girl zipped by me in the far left lane. Her head was down. She was completely engrossed in texting while passing everything but the traffic helicopter.
I wanted to execute one of those police chase spin-out maneuvers, where the cops nudge the rear panel of the fleeing car, causing it to spin sideways and stop.
Then I wanted to tear the girl’s door open, take her face in both my hands and say,
“Honey, you’re too young and too pretty to get mangled and mangle three or four other people because of this toy. I know it’s important to you to discuss last night’s episode of ‘Jersey Shore’ with, let me see, TSwiftFan, but put this stupid thing away until you get where you’re going.”
The other day, when a guy shot past us doing at least 90, my wife hit the nail on the head.
“There’s no valuing life,” she said sadly.
Driving carelessly is a sin, plain and simple.
It’s cliché, but we just don’t realize how fragile life is. It can be snatched away from us so quickly we can’t believe it. Cars are weapons when we’re careless. Every trip to the store is a potential disaster. We just can’t say it enough. We have to be careful.
Let’s remember 2 Corinthians 7:11, given here in the King James’ translation: “For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear …”
galen.holley@journalinc.com