Monday, December 16, 2002

Cell Phones Kill
I am a confirmed pedestrian. I do not own a car. So when I see other people do stupid or careless things with theirs it really bugs me.
There is an intersection in front of the law school, and over the past year, I have had two extremely close shaves there. In both cases the driver was, you guessed it, a law student. Law students tend to have a really bad attitude that "Laws are for other people, not me," and it gets dangerous when you combine this lousy attitude with a motor vehicle.
The first time a law student passed a stopped bus from which I had just disembarked. The bus had "No passing on campus" emblazened across its rear end. The student approached me a little later and tried to argue that it had really been my fault, and that the law against passing a stopped school bus didn't apply here. My sheer anger at his carelessness and the audacity to argue that it had been my fault shut him up.
The second time was just a few days ago. A female law student wanted to make a right turn. Her light was red. She did not have her turn signal on and she was talking on a cell phone. I wanted to cross the street. She never looked right and she started to go before she looked ahead. She came within six inches of hitting me. She made some sort of screwed-up face like what a child does when their mother askes why there are muddy footprints on the best carpet. I gave her the nastiest look I could muster.
I knew who she was, and the next morning I e-mailed her. I wrote that there's a reason it's illegal in New York to use a hand-held cell phone while driving. I wrote that that was a second time in a year that a law student has almost killed me at that intersection, and that what she did was at best inconsiderate and at worst, criminally negligent.
She wrote back that my message was totally unnessecary; that she had apologised at the time (not); that we weren't in New York; that the other time I had almost been hit had nothing to do with her and she didn't want to hear about it; and, finally, that I was not a law student or a lawyer and I shouldn't throw around terms I didn't have the education to understand.
This last flummoxed me. I didn't understand what was wrong with my use of the phrase. I looked up "criminal negligence" in Black's Law Dictionary. It said, "See negligence." There it said, "For example, involuntary manslaughter or other negligent homicide can be based on criminal negligence, as when an extremely careless automobile driver kills someone."
I don't know what that girl's been doing for the past two and a half years, but she doesn't seem to have learned much about law.
Her response made me even more anger than ever, but then something interesting happened. She had been so shallow, and so tried to wriggle out of responsibility for herself, that I was able to dismiss her as a total bitch. I won't have to lift a finger and I can rest assured that she'll get what she has coming when she's out there trying to practice law and she can't recognise a textbook example of criminal negligence when it slaps her in the face.
Anyway, you don't need a law degree to know when something stinks. All you need is a nose.