The oblivion queen

I have come to grips with the fact that most humans can no longer carry on a single normal activity without having their face buried in a phone.

I don’t necessarily like it, but I get it.

Heck, I’m guilty of it at times, too. You are probably like me in that one of the siren songs of your life is the notification of a text message when you’re in the middle of a very boring conversation.

OTHER PERSON: And Mr. Fluffers just HATES his new cat food, but Sgt. Sillywort LOVES it, so I don’t know what to do!


YOUR BRAIN: Check it. Check your phone. Do it. Guarantee you it’s better than the Mr. Fluffers dilemma.

But I try to have some level of human decency and still carry on conversations like a human was intended, which is not with your face buried in a phone.

Alas, I feel I am a minority in this, as more and more I see people so engrossed with their phone that they are oblivious to the world around them.

And if ever those who stay glued to their phones feel they need a leader, I have found their queen.

I saw her the other day outside of my office. My wife had called me, no doubt to just ring me up and tell me what a wonderful person I am.

I decided to step outside of the office, as it was a nice day. My wife began telling me what a wonderful person I was (or reminding me to get bananas at the store before I came home; can’t totally recall).

I glanced up the road and saw three police cars with their lights on, traveling very slowly toward me.

I noticed cars on the opposite side of the road were pulling over. As they came closer, I saw that the police were leading a funeral procession.

Now, I’m from the school that believes you pull over for a funeral when you can. A moment of respect for the family is just a simple bit of decency. And for what it’s worth, if you are one of those people who honks at others for pulling over for a funeral, you should really consider calibrating your priorities in life.

As a pedestrian, I feel it also a nice show of respect to stand solemnly as the procession goes by. I remember being in a funeral procession in Atlanta years ago when we passed a road crew. Every member of the crew stopped what they were doing, removed their helmets, and bowed their heads as we passed. Pure class.

What was about to happen is pretty much the opposite of that. I told my wife a funeral was coming by, and I should hang up. It just felt wrong to sit and gab as mourners went by.

And then the queen emerged. She was about 100 feet down the sidewalk from me, busy on her phone. She glanced up and saw that traffic on her side was stopped. She darted between two cars and made her way to the middle of the road. She glanced to her right. It’s pretty hard to miss three police cars with blue lights and a hearse behind them.

The police cars went past her, and she went back to her phone. And started trotting across the street.

Head down, she scooted on across the street, no doubt posting a fascinating Facebook status. And as she crossed the street, she stepped right in front of the hearse, which had to slam on its brakes so as not to hit her.

Her reaction? Nothing. Just kept going. The driver of the hearse even threw his hands up in the air and probably had a few choice words.

So to recap — she was so locked into her phone she walked between a police escort AND A HEARSE.

I cannot imagine that lack of awareness, and I can’t solely blame the phone. At any time in history, my guess is that woman would have found plenty of ways to be completely unaware of the world around her. If nothing else, it will always serve as a reminder to me that there is a time and a place to be on your phone. And that time is definitely not in the middle of a funeral procession. It’s when someone is telling you about Mr. Fluffers.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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