Thursday, February 25, 2010

So print is dead? I beg to differ

It was snowing. Big, fat, white flakes were falling hard and fast.

It was early, too, and I was driving carefully, on the lookout for those errant icy patches that can send your car into a tailspin before you know it. But so far, so good - although the snow was relentless, it didn't really seem to be sticking.

That's why the erratic behavior of the driver in front of me was so puzzling. He was in a late-model Saturn, and was weaving, just now and then, from side to side. If it hadn't been early morning, I would have thought I was behind a driver who was just a wee bit tipsy.

He'd straddle the left lane just a little bit, then over correct himself, then drive normally for a few blocks. Going over a bridge, he made a scary trip to the right side, way too close to the edge, spitting dirty snow and ice onto the cars and trucks traveling the freeway below.

I couldn't imagine he was hitting icy patches. If so, he was having quite a spell of bad luck. Because I hadn't hit any at all. I kept watching him - at a safe distance behind. And he kept up his strange little pattern.

Then it came time for me to make a right turn, while he continued on straight ahead. I pulled up alongside him at the light, and ventured a look inside his car. Instantly, I discovered the cause of his imbalance.

He was reading. Yep, reading. Not text messages, not a map, but a real book. Well, it looked like a book, at least - although I couldn't see the title from my viewpoint. As I stared through my driver's window, my mouth quite literally agog, he looked over at me. His expression was hard to decipher. He didn't look embarrassed or chagrined. No, it was actually more like the look a deep-in-thought library patron gives you when you accidentally bump the table. Distracted, maybe, or perhaps a little puzzled.

I hope my thoughts were written all over my face. I hope he could see that while I was incredibly happy he loved to read, I was extremely unhappy and surprised he had chosen this time to do so. And I hoped, above all, that he would close his book and focus on getting to his destination without hurting himself or anyone else.

But I had to smile the rest of the way to work. So they say print is dead, huh? I beg to differ.

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