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Editor's notes: Texting while driving, a maniac and PMFL
editor's notes

Welcome to the latest installment in Editor’s Notes meets the Pembroke Mafia Football League. I’m on a shorter leash this week, so you’re spared the usual amount of blather.

Let it suffice to say this week that Richmond Hill City Council Clerk Dawnne “Duanne” Greene still leads the pack after three weeks with only seven misses. Everybody else is behind her, and apparently I am behind everybody else except perhaps First District County Commissioner Noah Covington, who likes a good heaping helping of beets.

Our standings took some time to figure out due to new math, so while everyone got their picks in on time except me — and while I’m on the subject Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor- Carter-Johnson-Smith threatened to turn a live chicken loose in my office (if he did I can’t find it in this mess) — it and certain other events kept me from transcribing B.J. Clark’s notes on the picks for next week. So that’s when we’ll catch up. But Dawnne is in first. That much, we know. She rocks for a yankee. And she’s a Jaguars fan.

Now, a digression. It seems some state media outlets have reported Georgia drivers aren’t paying much attention to the state’s new hands free law, which outlaws use of hand-held “devices” such as smart phones.

Yet why anybody – state lawmakers included — thought drivers would put down their phones in the first place is beyond me. Have they ever seen anybody do the speed limit?

They only time drivers do that is when they see a cop. Then they’ll slow down and stop texting and putting on makeup and eating yogurt and looking at Facebook and trying to change the CD and find that quarter that went under the seat, at least until the cop is out of sight. And then it’s America all over again.

This is nothing new. In his later years, Henry Grady Whitten, my paternal grandfather up in South Carolina, would take out his hearing aid when he drove. He ran stop signs, too. And he always took his half of the road in the middle, just to get his tax dollar’s worth.

Once, he did all three at the same time when took me to go eat at hotdog stand in Clemson at some point while I was on a visit.

We were flying along in Pendleton, S.C., when he started fiddling with his hearing aid and stopped steering.

“Papa, what are you doing?” I asked.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING??” I asked, in all caps.

“What does it look like I’m doing,” he asked me right back. “I’m driving us to Clemson.”

And then he dropped his hearing aid. Then he reached down to find it and forgot he was driving in the middle of the road. Then he ran a stop sign. Fortunately, we were the only car on the road. I think someone had warned the rest of the population he’d cranked up his Chevrolet Impala.

“Don’t worry,” he said, apparently misinterpreting the look on my face. “The law knows me around here.” Then he went back to looking under the seat for his hearing aid at 45 mph.

Somehow we got to Clemson and back. On the way it had gotten dark and there was a lot of traffic, and Papa, a World War II veteran who outlived three wives and a pack of cigarettes a day, ran right down the middle of the road through the traffic and the lights and the blaring horns like he was born with the right of way.

When I was a child and Papa was much younger he occasionally sat me up on the hood of his big Impala, handed me a slingshot and a bucket of marbles and drove slowly up and down the hills around Pendleton looking for rabbits to shoot. We never got any, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. And then we’d get an RC Cola and Moon Pie and I’d be suitably sugared up for the folks to take me back.

I suspect there’s probably a law these days against putting kids on the hoods of cars and arming them with slingshots. There may even be a law against RC Colas and Moon Pies. There’s definitely a law against using hand-held devices, and speeding, but this is America and fast is the speed of freedom.

Case in point A: According to stats given to Richmond Hill City Council on Monday, the city’s police officers have written over 4,600 tickets so far 2018. Of those, 715 were for speeding, and of those, 75 were for folks going between 90 and 99 mph, and a dozen more were for drivers going over 100 mph. Yikes.

Case in point B: I was driving west Friday on Highway 280 just outside Pembroke and doing my usual 65 mph when my rear view mirror was filled up with a pickup truck, and a shiny new black pickup at that. It stayed in my rear view mirror until it could get around me, and flew up the road, but then a white pickup pulled out in front of the black pickup and took an immediate left into a convenience store not far from Highway 204, forcing the guy in the black pickup to not only have to stop but also to reach his arm far out his window and give the white pickup the traditional salute we give to others when we enjoy their driving.

Then the black pickup picked up speed again and shot on down the road until it ran into other traffic — an SUV and yet another white pickup — just before the three-lane area near Lanier Primary. Naturally, the black pickup stayed glued to the SUV bumper until the passing lane, brakelights twinkling merrily, then went around the SUV driver and tried to pass the white pickup by using the right lane, only that particular pickup wasn’t having anything to do with that nonsense.

After all, a race is a race, and so both pickups went roaring off into the sunset neck and neck. It did appear the black pickup edged out the white pickup somewhere around the spot where the three-lane ends. I cannot say for sure, however, because by that time, they were merely specks in the Greater Black Creek Ellabell metropolitan area.

It reminded me of what a football coach told me about people who drive big obnoxious pickups obnoxiously — they’re trying to compensate for shortcomings in other areas of their lives.


Whitten is editor of the News.

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