This I Believe

Kathleen - San Juan Capistrano, California
Entered on September 15, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

The Hidden Advantages of Hands Free

Kathleen Clary Miller

Hold, please! Before everyone is up in arms (with both hands) over Governor Schwarzenegger’s announcement that, effective July, 2008, Californians will join the ranks of those other states who are no longer allowed to cradle cell phones while driving, let me remind you of the unpublicized advantages. The statistical data points only to the obvious: we’ll be nine times less likely to risk death, and there will be at least 775 fewer accidents than there were in 2004. The more popular perks are equally persuasive.

Before you begin pushing the button on The Telephone Terminator, consider this: Driving gestures will be revived as part of California’s commuter culture. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t witnessed “the bird” or the “what kind of idiot are you?!” hand signals since cell phones became palmed behind the wheel.

I will be able to surf the radio stations again, an obsessive-compulsive pastime that never quite satisfies and therefore keeps me occupied in traffic, not to mention that it makes me feel like an L.A. teenager again.

We ladies can once again apply last-minute touches to our make-up. We’ve been successful at this for decades, oh men of little faith. We’ve become quite adept at not granting our fell attention to the mirror when we primp. Evidence: my friend who, twice a week, applies her complexion with eyes closed, just in case blindness overtakes her and God, forbid, she be without mascara.

There’s hair that has suffered, these post years, from hands being bonded to keypad buttons. I look forward to seeing my stop signal neighbor drumming his steering wheel, once again, like Keith Richards. What about—pardon me—picking your nose? Hard to do when that free hand is on the cell.

So, don’t fret! There will still be plenty of distractions. You can fidget on the freeways in any number of retro ways. And, if the cellular retailers are savvy, they’ll jazz up the earpieces—perhaps some jewels and glitter—and we’ll have ourselves, what? The new “bling?”

What I really want to know is, does this new law keep me from having to search the nooks and crannies of every cheesy curio shop for the cardboard sign my husband keeps nagging me to purchase for his car windows (he wants FOUR of them!): HANG UP AND DRIVE!!? It’s just hands free; people will still be talking. I guess I’m not off the hook.