It was a bitterly cold, blustery day in mid-December when a blind grandma ‘died’. My daughter was one of four witnesses. Here’s how it happened . . .
The last project of my first semester in college was a group project. I was grouped with Jason, Jordan, and Kyle; they too, were completing their first semester at Penn State.
“I really, really hate group projects!” Jordan said as she and I shoved two desks together in preparation for our first group meeting.
“So do I,” I agreed. “But I’ve never actually done one before so tell me why you hate them,” I continued.
“Because I always end up doing all the work while everyone else does little or nothing.”
“Well, this time it’ll be different because you have me and I can promise you that I will do my share,” I said emphatically. “I hate being dependent on someone else for my grade. Why do they assign group projects anyway?
“I don’t know but I wish they didn’t,” she said as Jason and Kyle finally joined us.
“Wish they didn’t what?” Jason, usually the first to speak, asked. My hopes for my grade on this project had been dashed when I’d heard that Jason was a member of my group. Jason was far from shy; words flew out of his mouth long before his brain got itself into gear.
“Assign group projects,” Jordan countered. “And let me tell you guys right now, if you two don’t pull your share of the load, I’m gonna get in your face.”
“If you aren’t shaking in your boots yet,” I laughed. “Let me add that I’ll turn into a nasty mom-witch and get right in there with Jordan.”
Jason ha-ha’d loudly, looked at Kyle, and said, “Let’s ask Michelle if we can be in a different group, okay?”
“Nope, I’m staying here,” Kyle retorted. “Let’s see if we can keep up with Jordan and Maryann and come up with a kick-butt project.”
And just like that, Jason settled in and got serious. “Okay, so the first thing is to figure out what an advocacy campaign is,” he said.
“Yeah,” I echoed. “Michelle said it can be something like MADD but I’m not sure what the campaign is supposed to look like. If it’s not to be an essay that we write then what is it?”
“Well, I vote for a Facebook page,” Jordan said. “I have a friend with a video camera so we can do a short video clip and use it on the page.”
“Yeah, that’s a great idea,” Jason and Kyle agreed. I sat there wondering how I was going to contribute anything to a Facebook page because I had no idea what one looked like.
“I vote we do a Facebook page on texting while driving,” Jason finally said.
“Wait,” I said, “Am I correct in thinking that texting is pushing those tiny little buttons on your phone? And you mean to say that people actually do that while driving a car?”
“Well, I don’t,” Jason said, “But yeah, I have friends who do.”
“Huh, I guess people are even more stupid than I thought,” I said as I shook my head. “So yeah, let’s do that.” Jordan and Kyle agreed.
The next step was planning. We needed “meaningful content,” a producer, and a script writer so I volunteered to do the research and write the script if they would do the rest. It was agreed.
Even a few minutes of online research netted me the info that this was a far graver problem than I had realized and that some states in the US had enacted laws against it. Then it struck me—there is more than one way of being blind and mental blindness seems far more deadly than physical blindness.
When I explained my findings and proposed that I ‘sacrifice’ myself to emphasize that point, they asked, “Are you sure you don’t mind? It seems sorta wrong somehow.”
The rest was easy. Well, until it came to the part where we realized we’d need a car.
The three of them looked at me, “Don’t you have one?”
“What, you think I drive a car?!” They looked sheepish. “But how do you get to campus?” they asked.
“Well, I ride in a car but I don’t drive it,” I retorted. “And yeah, my husband has one but it’s a minivan. If we’re gonna have you three teenagers hit the blind grandma while you’re out proving you can drive and text at the same time, you wouldn’t be driving a minivan, would you? But I’ll check with my daughter, she has a small Subaru hatchback that looks sporty enough for teenagers.”
That was how it happened that my daughter stood in the blustery cold while two teenagers sat in her car yelling at each other to stop with the texting as I stepped off the curb and fell onto the hood.
My ‘sacrifice’ was worth it, we got an A for the project. And, it is possible that at least those three teenagers considered the consequences and will never text while driving.