The Self-Absorbed Texters

Three events over as many weeks have put the Barometer over the edge on the texting epidemic. Whilst traveling with family down from Arizona’s Rim Country to the magnificent Phoenix Valley of the Sun, all travelers in the car noticed a small gray car ahead at the stoplight in Payson. The gray car sat motionless during a green light. A honk to awaken the driver came too late. The light turned red. We pulled out from behind the gray car and alongside it in the right-hand lane. Its young female driver was busily texting. She managed to look up in time to awaken to the next green light. She took off like a bat in a scary movie when the heroine has entered the premises. We lagged behind, not wishing to be anywhere near the gray car.

We watched as she traveled in the left lane, swerving off the road three times, once so much so that she kicked up dirt because her car had strayed off the pavement. We pulled along side the gray and rolled down our windows with the hope of catching her attention. For her own safety and that of others, we were going to yell, “Stop texting.” Our plan was thwarted because she was so busy texting that she did not see our waving arms. We dropped back with sadness, offering a prayer that she might make it the 75 miles down to the Valley in safety. We kept our distance.

The following week in the Indianapolis airport, the Barometer was on the right side of the long walkway headed to her gate. However, considerable darting and weaving resulted as an approaching 30ish business man deep into texting was walking as if he were three sheets to the wind. The Barometer sensed a collision in the air. Finally, the Barometer had no place to weave to avert his weave to the wall. Here are the words offered to the distracted traveler, “I have nowhere else to go. You may have to look up from your phone.” He finally looked up and offered a meek, “Sorry.” Still, he went on his merry, albeit weaving way continuing to text, as other travelers did all sorts of dosey-does and/or river-dances to avoid the heads-down teeter.

Now this week. The close-call phenomena ended. Alexandra Mansonet, the CEO of a nonprofit, was texting whilst driving her black Mercedes-Benz to work. Her sister-in-law had texted her about choices for dinner, “Cuban, American, or Mexican. Pick one.” Ms. Manoset’s cell phone indicated that she had typed the letters “m” and “e.” At that point, as Ms. Mansonet testified, she looked up and saw a Toyota Corolla in front of her but could not stop in time because of her proximity and speed, the laws of physics still in effect even in New Jersey. Ms. Manoset hit the Toyota, which struck and killed Dr. Yuwen Wang, a young scientist out for a morning walk.

Ms. Mansonet was charged with reckless vehicular manslaughter. She testified that she had looked down to turn on her rear-window defogger, and then saw the Toyota. She did turn over her cell phone to police at the scene. Investigators found the text and her unsent response of “m” and “e.” Ms. Mansonet testified that she was not texting at the time of the accident because she decided that it was best to just call her sister-in-law later because she was not sure what she wanted for dinner. The jury was not persuaded, and she was convicted of reckless vehicular manslaughter.

After the verdict, Dr. Wang’s stoic husband said, “I hope more people could realize the consequences of texting while driving.”

What more need be said? The life of a young scientist who had just celebrated her sixth wedding anniversary with her husband the night before was ended.

Texting is a self-absorbed and self-absorbing activity. Apart from that shallowness is its dangers to others. There is a world out there of living, breathing, walking (or attempting to do so) human beings. For their sakes and your own, all you textures: STOP!

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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