Sunday, September 16, 2012

Changing the Radio

A commercial from my youth stuck with me through the years.  It didn’t resonate with me through poignant humor, over indulgent sexuality, or even for the product it was selling.  Instead, this particular commercial lodged itself in my memory through shock value and a message that is incredibly applicable to today’s society.  The punch line of the commercial - “John didn’t like the song on the radio, so he killed a little girl.”

For those of you who never had the opportunity to see this commercial, let me set the scene.  A young man drives down a typical suburban street jamming to the radio.  The mood is bright and happy.  Everything is fantastic.  The guy decides to change the channel, and as he looks down at the knob, a little girl runs out in front of his car.

Sad, I know.  

If I remember right, there might have been a series of commercials like this.  Or, maybe my brain has just been running with the idea, creating its own series of commercials that  could have worked.

“Ricky wanted the air conditioner on, so he killed a young boy.”

“Gerald decided to spit his gum in the wrapper, so he drove over an old lady.”

“Sarah couldn’t wait to get home to taste her french fries, so she murdered a father of three.”

The implied rationale is that driving contains a certain amount of danger; pay attention while doing it.  More often than not, the old commercial pops into my mind while driving through my neighborhood.  We have a nice running loop frequently populated by fitness enthusiasts, little kids on bikes, and parents with strollers.  The nicer the weather, the more people you will see.  Unfortunately, it is the people you don’t see you have to worry about.  I make sure to keep my eyes peeled.

In today’s tech heavy society, the idea of being aware while driving is even more pertinent.  The distractions of today are extremely commonplace.

“Harold wanted to dial his mom on his phone, so he ran over a pregnant woman.”

“Jillian wanted to text “;-)” to her best friend, so she killed a little boy who just turned three.”

“Brian was interested in whether or not it would rain, so he crushed a jogger pushing a stroller.”

The stark juxtaposition of two contrasting desires shocked me as a young person and shocks me still as an adult.  We are never 100% certain of the results of our actions, nor can we imagine the infinite possibilities stemming from any one of our decision.  Of course, remaining aware of our surroundings, acting responsibly, and being safe, reduces the changes of situations like these from arising.  

Please don’t assume I am perfect.  Despite the haunting memory of the commercial hanging over my head, I still have lapses in sound judgement.  As much as I loathe myself for doing so, I will occasionally pen a text or fumble for directions as I drive.  Usually, I realize what I am doing halfway through and reprimand myself for it. 

I have plenty of hypocritical moments when I see others staring intently at their phones as they drive.  I scold them internally, aware of my hypocrisy, hoping that I won’t make the same error in judgement again.  Maybe I won’t.  I hope not.   I have no desire to be in a commercial.

If you are unsure of whether or not your actions are dangerous, paint them in the stark contrasts provided by the commercial.  Is your email as important as the life of a child?  A family?  An old lady?  Anyone at all?  If it is truly urgent, pull off the road.  Find a gas station, a strip mall, a restaurant parking lot, where you can stop your car and take care of your business.  Otherwise you risk making the terrible choices illustrated above.

1 comment:

  1. I remember this commercial as well! I've been trying to YouTube it but haven't found it. It often plays in my head when I find myself distracted behind the wheel... thanks for sharing!