Keeping Both Hands on the Wheel

I’m no fan of our governor, Paul LePage. I guess most of you knew that. My dislike of our perpetually-angry governor is less about his politics (I find them abhorrent), and more about his lack of evolution as a human being.

I can’t recall if I ever shared my “three personal experiences” with Paul LePage story. Here’s one of them.

Back in the day when I was still rolling up my sleeves and doing yeoman’s duty in Maine’s workforce development community, I tried to reach out to the governor (back before he was the governor). He was at Marden’s and I was hoping the company might step-up and support our efforts to improve the skills of Maine’s workforce at the time by lending something tangible to the WorkReady program I was tasked to shepherd along.

Like he’s done countless times since becoming governor, he attacked me (on the phone), literally ranting and raving like a mad man, accusing me of not returning his phone calls. Actually, this was my first phone call to him on the matter at hand—inquiring about getting some Marden’s management and hiring decision-makers to come out and help with mock interviews. Instead, he continued his tirade, with me attempting to get a word in edgewise. Finally, I’d had enough and I said, “will you just shut up for a minute!” That stopped him in his tracks. Word to the wise, when dealing with a bully, you have to mirror their behavior to get noticed.

He finally calmed down, and we had a conversation where he promised me that he’d help us and grant me my request. He of course dropped the ball, and I had to start the process over again when he left the company to run for governor.

Tracking the current news cycle in Maine, I noticed that Mr. LePage is vetoing a ban on handheld devices (namely smartphones) while driving. Apparently, he thinks mandating that people focus on driving rather than everything else in the car amounts to “social engineering.” He even went on to say that cell phone use while behind the wheel is not as big an issue as putting on makeup or eating a sandwich. I’m guessing that like me, you’ve not seen anyone applying mascara or eating a foot-long sandwich while navigating Maine’s roadways. I am willing to bet a $20 bill that you’ve noticed a shitload of fellow travelers talking on their phones, however.

Eye-lining while driving.

I’ll make an assumption about our governor, based upon a similar trait possessed by someone I know who works for him. Mr. LePage doesn’t read much, or widely. He’s admitted that he doesn’t read newspapers. Even the masses who admit to not reading books will tell you that they occasionally read a magazine or newspaper.

Consequently, it’s unlikely that our governor (or any of his advisors) would have had any cause to read this provocative article via Treehugger, conflating that “cars are like guns.” The article takes data and research compiled by Tara Goddard, on drivers and their deadly tendencies relative to sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians.

That study, along with my own anecdotal observations raise concerns about our governor’s misguided priorities. I also believe that his own personal political ideology makes him blind to doing all that’s possible in keeping his constituents safe. So, on the personal front, I’ve noticed an alarming trend lately of drivers not yielding or stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks in the town where I live (Brunswick) as well as other places I have visited lately (Portland and Yarmouth). Stopping for walkers seems to be low on the list of priorities for drivers—lower than say, talking and texting while driving—both of these behaviors I’ve witnessed, as I was attempting to enter the crosswalk without being run over by them. I’ve never noted one of these drivers applying eye liner, or chomping on a Dagwood prior to nearly running me down.

Stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk is the law in Maine.

If social engineering is what it takes to keep people from being killed on the highways and byways of our land—like our son was back in January—then I say, “bring it on!”

And btw Mr. LePage, while I think this is yet another case of you not knowing what the hell your talking about, I do agree that keeping” both hands on the wheel” isn’t a bad thing to practice while driving. You are wrong, however, with your assessment that technology will “solve the cellphone issue.” Technology is what continues exacerbating it.