A LIFE OF CRIME
COMES CALLING

     I am a criminal. I break the law every day, and Iím proud of it. The dirty rotten cops caught me once, and they may catch me again, but thatís the life of habitual criminals.
    My crime? I brazenly put my cell phone to my ear when driving.
    When the law requiring all cell phones to be "hands-free" when driving went into effect on July 1, 2008, my life of being a solid law-abiding citizen came to a close.
     It wasnít a conscious decision. I tried going straight. I bought a Bluetooth and stuck it in my ear. When I almost got into my fifth accident while trying to find the little button that would increase the volume enough to where I could at least hear every other sentence, I gave up and quietly told the politician who pushed for the hands-free law where he could stick his legislation.
    Thus began my life of crime. My risk of accidents quadrupled not because I had one hand on my phone, but because I was constantly looking in my rear-view mirror and side to side for the cop who was out to get me.
    But I wasnít vigilant enough. A few months into my life of crime, I was nabbed. A San Francisco motorcycle cop, hiding in the shadows, saw me yapping away with my phone nestled comfortably at my ear.
    When he pulled me over, lights flashing, I was about to surrender. But I had to try one last chance at escape.
    "Donít you think this hands-free law is the stupidest idea in a long time?" I asked. "I think itís more dangerous to be fiddling with these hands-free instruments than it is to have the phone at your ear."
    He loved me. As he wrote the ticket, he casually mentioned that he thought it was the best law heís ever seen. And I was scum.
    After having to appear at San Franciscoís Hall of Justice and paying a $145 fine (donít believe anyone who tells you itís $20), I vowed once again to go straight. I bought a Motorola hands-free device that you clip to your visor.
    Donít buy stock in Motorola. After a week of garbled conversations, and almost killing myself and others while trying to adjust the volume and clarity, I returned it to the store.
    Next up was The Parrot, which is also clipped to the visor and worked better than the Motorola, but still fell short of actually hearing someone clearly, or having them hear you, which is kind of nice when talking on the phone. And at least seven more people narrowly escaped death or injury while I fumbled with the controls of both my phone and The Parrot while driving.
    Thoroughly frustrated once again, I gave up going straight and reverted to my life of crime. Leisurely drives are a thing of the past. When the phone rings, I become a criminal. My stress level rises as my eyes dart left and right, praying that Iíll see the cop before he sees me.
    And I curse those miserable politicians who carelessly enacted this ridiculous law. All studies Iíve read show that hands-free cell phone use wonít make the roads safer. And in my case, the law definitely makes the roads much less safe.
   It makes infinitely more sense to ban talking on the phone completely while driving a car, but no one will dare propose that.
   But they had to come up with something to make it look like they were making the roads safer, so they opted for the "hands-free" route. That way you can have two hands on the wheel, once youíve finished dialing, changing the audio output, adjusting the volume, trying to find the phone again to catch that call-waiting while putting the other call on hold, and then fiddling with the volume again.
    Once thatís done, you can relax and grip that steering wheel with both hands, insuring safety for one and all.
    Or you can be like me, and live a life of crime. Thereís downsides, such as living in constant fear of arrest, but that goes with the territory. If they nab me again, so be it. And if they nab me a third time, Iíll just stop talking on the phone in the car, and start texting.
    That will show them.
 

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