February 02, 2021

I decided to take a different road home from up north yesterday and got caught not paying attention.  I usually take the Interstate and the speed limit is now 75 mph.  As the road changes and goes over the river the speed drops to 65 mph.  I drive this road twice a week and have the route etched into my psyche.  One of the reasons I changed my way home was to get off the Interstate.  While I have seen several hawks perched on the wires or in the trees, I am generally going too fast and am by them before I am able to stop and take a picture.  That was again true yesterday as I whizzed past a new hawk I had not yet recorded.  I took the side road hoping to get a good picture.

I have mentioned before how careful I try to be when driving.  I let the cruise control gauge my speed, so I do not worry about how fast I go.  I avoid using my phone unless it is hooked up “hands free” to the car and generally ignore texts.  When I do pay attention, I have pulled over to avoid becoming a distracted driver.  That is even more important now.  It is not only dangerous, but a finable offence.  It continues to amaze me how many times Melissa and I approach an erratic driver and as we pass (or at least get close and they decide to speed up) we find they are on their phone despite the law.  I also know this stretch of road is next to the district office of the State Police and we frequently pass them stopped along the road.  I figure it is better to be safe than sorry.

After getting off on the side road I went through town and started across the bridge over the river.  I was paying more attention to finding birds than driving.  I let my internal cruise control kick in and became the distracted driver I try to avoid.   My speed increased as I looked for birds and came off the bridge.  That was where the trooper I should have suspected was sitting.  He was parked next to a sign that said the speed limit was 40 mph.  That was not the speed I was going.  He followed for a bit as usual, then followed as I pulled into a parking lot.  He pulled up behind me with his lights on.  I had obviously not been paying attention.

Thoughts:  I found it ironic that earlier in the day we had been discussing how we should not brag about what we do.  As I sat in the vehicle waiting for a ticket, I thought about my post several months ago where I had talked (bragged?) about how careful I am.  It seems I am not always as careful as I thought.  When the trooper returned, he noted how I had no violations or warnings on my record, and he was giving me a warning.  While I appreciated the acknowledgement of my attention in the past, I was painfully aware of my current lack of attention.  Consistently paying attention seems to be a problem facing our country.   We need to pay attention to the thoughts and feeling s of others.  We need to pay attention to their health.  We need to follow the science.  We need to do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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