Brian Sullivan: Text and drive, and pay for it



The law is starting to crack down on people who text while driving. Or, at least it is trying. One of the Albany news stations aired a little clip over the Fourth of July weekend showing the efforts of local police and their mission to eyeball, track and eventually cite offenders. It wasn't meant to be comical, but the frustration level on both sides of the exchange -- officer and those being accused -- couldn't be missed. Both sides, it seemed, had to deal with considerable angst during the give and take.

The cell-using or text-messaging drivers had been tracked for a couple of miles after being spotted, so the police officer was without question in the right. But that
didn't keep the drivers from insisting they were not guilty.

This led me to two conclusions. The first is these drivers are so numb to the fact they are continuously engaging in the act that they have no idea they are doing it in the first place. That might be hard to believe, but there's a layer of truth to that fact and a scary one at that.

The other thing I noticed was the reluctance of the drivers to admit to the transgression in the first place. It was complete and total denial of the charge, which caused the frustration of the officer being filmed to escalate. The attitude of the driver was, "What, you're bothering me with this? On a holiday weekend no less?"

OK, we live in a multi-task world. I get it. But I don't see a day anytime soon when the guy or gal at the motor vehicle registry giving you the driver's test is going to ask you to drive around Park Square while texting and pull into a parking spot near Patrick's Pub. And then back out while texting your grocery list to the registry officer.

The first car I ever drove on a regular basis was a 1965 fire-engine red F-85 Oldsmobile. Distractions? It didn't even have a radio. Nor did it have seat belts. It did have that blue tint along the top of the windshield to soften the glare of the sun. If there was a distraction, then it was the fact I could fit three in the front and four in the back if they were skinny enough.

I didn't need to text. If you were in your teens and had a car, then all your buddies were usually right there with you. Remember the good old days when people had friends and not "followers"?

Here are some things I notice around the city and Berkshires that I do and don't like.

That sign at the former Dakota restaurant on Route 7 & 20 that hypes their Sunday brunch and other portions of their menu such as the "Fantastic salad bar." Well, can we please take that down now? It's been more than two months since the eatery suddenly closed. It was a popular spot year-round and especially during the tourist season. It bothered patrons that the doors were shut so rudely and suddenly. To leave all that signage out on the highway for all to see is like rubbing dirt in the faces of once-loyal customers. Take it north or take it south, but take that Dakota stuff elsewhere.

See? No reason to worry: We were able to get through the Fourth of July weekend just fine without James Taylor performing at Tanglewood. Jackson Browne, it turns out, put on a magnificent show.

And speaking of the holiday weekend, there was nary a hitch nor a glitch to our parade. Hats off, again, to the Fourth of July Parade Committee and kudos to all involved who continue to contribute to such a fine Pittsfield tradition. And a shout out to all of you who attend. Without you, there's no reason to march.

Baseball's Mid-Summer Classic will be played on Tuesday at City Field in New York City, the home of the Mets. A quick look at the rundown of local players who have reached the majors shows only Dalton's Jeff Reardon who I believe was selected but did not play during the 1988 game. If I'm wrong, The Eagle's Derek Gentile will clean up my spill in this space tomorrow.

No Tom Grieve, Mark Belanger, Earl Turner, Turk Wendell nor others as far as I know.

I do, however, have a baseball question today for fans of the Yankees and Red Sox. If the Yankees were to blow up in the second half of the season and not be a contender, would the Bronx Bombers be willing to move the great reliever Mariano Rivera to a contender so that he might finish his Hall-of-Fame career in style with a team that might win it all?

And, Red Sox fans, if Mo was offered to you for the September stretch run, would you willingly take him aboard and embrace the pinstripes he's worn forever?

I'd like to hear from you on this one.

Oh, and I'm predicting the National League to win 1-0 on a no-hitter. You heard it here first.


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