TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Oh, Say, Can You See? Not!

I wonder how many people are aware of the unseen heroics among our fellow neighbors. The extreme cold, accompanied by recent blizzard-like conditions often blocking visibility, placed too many of our fellow humans in unnecessary situations.

City, county and state police officers are on duty 24/7, 365 days a year. When unsafe driving conditions develop but drivers throw caution to the wind and drive as if it was warm and sunny — and then hit the ditch or another vehicle — it is the law and emergency personnel who must face the elements to save their lives.

I can’t imagine how our firefighters and ambulance crews can do their jobs in the extreme wind and cold we’ve experienced lately. But they do, and do them very well.

I also watched during that period of extreme cold while the postal workers walked their mail routes. They delivered on time and without complaint. During most of the worst weather, they were not only out on deliveries … they got them out on time. So much work with so little public thanks and notice!

The people who walk or drive their paper routes get the job done regardless of weather, too, which always amazes me. When I was young, I had a weekend paper route of my own. I can’t say I ever adjusted to lousy weather.

City, county and state workers charged with keeping our roadways clear have done a wonderful job. If only those who use the roads in miserable conditions had the good sense to drive at safe intervals and at safe speeds, especially when approaching the plows.

And there are other unseen workers, too. City staffers are charged with dealing with the winter water main breaks. In spite of the weather, they give it all they have. Yet few of us recognize their hard work and dedication.

Consider how time-sensitive our broadcast meteorologists operate. When lousy weather approaches, they are at their best. They save lives in doing so without taking credit due them. It’s always easy to yowl like a castrated monkey when the weather predictors are wrong. But somehow it seems to be much more difficult to give them a heads-up when they are (usually) right.

Our local radio and TV stations also must be commended for keeping us abreast of dangerous conditions. Behind those voices on the radio or TV are real people. (Oh, there might be an exception or two.) They truly display dedication and concern for their communities

I do a fast boil when I read about auto accidents in which someone dies and they aren’t wearing their seat belts. Some say it should be a matter of choice. To that, I say, “It is my choice not to have you body-slam into my car and die because of it.” Once you die, I have to live with that, even though I had no legal fault. So don’t tell me it should be a matter of choice. Wearing seat belts should be the law. If you can’t see that, you shouldn’t have the privilege of driving.

Last but not least — since my subject is what I see around me — distracted driving should carry a primary and serious penalty. When you’re driving and turn around or look down or to the right or left to tap out your message, you place everyone around you at risk. The same applies to those hands-free phones. Some people keep their eyes on the road while their hands are free and they’re talking — the phone’s intended purpose. Far too many seem to actually look at the phone on their dash while they’re talking. That, my friends, is like driving blind.

To all of our outdoor workers of all types — I salute you! Keep up the good work. And to everyone who drives around with a loud muffler disturbing the peace: May you meet your friendly police officer, and soon, and be glad you’re not going to appear in my court. Amen.

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