The following story is by guest contributor Angela Trevino. A francophile born in Mexico, raised in Texas and schooled in Connecticut, Angela once climbed an erupting volcano and swam with sharks on a night dive. And yes, she would do it again in a heartbeat. A short story writer as well as a filmmaker, she loves bringing compelling stories to life, no matter the format. Her film work can be found at www.citylimitfilms.com, her short stories at storiesfromher.com, and travel writing at borntobenomads.com.
A man honks at me for swerving into his lane then tries to snap a picture of me as he passes me. I almost flick him off. I suspect there’s a blog where disgruntled upright citizens complain about horrible drivers and I’m probably on there, some mug shot of me eating an apple and texting at the same time. There, I said it, I’m guilty of texting and driving, which some might consider as bad as drinking and driving. But if I have a defense (which, let’s face it, I don’t), it’s that I can’t shut off my brain, at least that reptilian part of me that rather sunbathe and daydream than drive. I’ve never been able to just drive. Blame Millennials. My generation doesn’t just do one thing at a time. The pressure to multi-task is as real and tantalizing as smoking must’ve been in the 50s. It’s sexy to multi-task. It puts you ahead of the old fogies that can barely type one letter at a time while you text a whole soliloquy. But we’ve been hard-wired, since we were toddlers. We were expected to catch applesauce in our mouths as our mothers said, “here comes the airplane!” and all this while watching Sesame Street from the corner of our eyes. Always distracted. Butterfly brains. Our minds always elsewhere. The grass always greener. And we’re totally disappointed by technology’s current inability to let us exist in five different realities at once. But give it time. This, at least, partly explains why we, me and my #iger generation of cell phone addicts, collectively drive like jackasses. But it’s not talking we’re addicted to. It’s feeling plugged in, all the time. Wired to the matrix of cyberspace. It’s a particular 21st century burden, needing to be informed or else deemed ignorant. It’s a necessity, like the air we breathe. It’s what makes us feel superior. It’s what makes us feel at ease, this vague sense that we’re part of the in crowd if we’re in the know. In sports: who won last night and by how much? In celebrity gossip: did he sleep with the nanny and is he single now? In tech: have you heard of this new app that will change your life? In other news: another tsunami. Information is like a drug. It gives us the pretense of intelligence without the actual substance. We’re really nothing but conduits, and couldn’t light a spark in a forest to make a fire. We would die, typing into our phones ferociously. Soon, our fingers would go numb, and we would curl up into a ball and send our last tweet listening to the howling of wolves. #imafraid. So here we are, always in a hurry, cutting off the slow pokes, the senile, the cautious immigrants. I hear another honk, this time not directed at me like I’m used to. It’s directed at the man who slowed down to give a homeless man a dollar and pissed off some ibanker running late for a meeting. I wanted to give this homeless man some change as well, but instead I gave him the banana I was set to swallow for breakfast. He still said “God Bless,” and it made me feel petty. I had $10 in my wallet. Taking my place in a jam-packed 12-lane highway, the infamous 405, makes me feel like I joined an ant-colony, all of us coasting along per the queen’s telepathic instructions. It’s funny how people say, “I’m stuck in traffic.” Traffic isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something you help create. In fact, you’re the reason there’s traffic, you and every version of you trying to get to yoga class, and dropping off the kids at daycare, and to a coffee date. So you might as well enjoy it. Might as well think about something else other than driving. Meditate, listen to an audiobook, pick your nose (if you think no one’s watching), stretch (within reason), check yourself out in the mirror, anything to get your mind off the fact that you’re part of a hive. Just DON’T text and drive.
-Typed on my iPhone on the 405.