Houston, We Have a Text

Kateryna V

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You sit behind the control panel and get comfortable in your seat. You click the seatbelt into place, adjusting the strap accordingly, and look out the window in front of you. You feel the ignition kick in and the machine hums around you with power. The metal exterior shines in the light and a white smoke billows behind you. You look at the glimmer of blinking and flashing buttons and symbols in front of you and you are enamored by the power at your fingertips, the sheer energy of the machine pulsating beneath you. Your tanks are ready: full of precious and flammable fuel just waiting to ignite. The two tons of metal enclosed around you are buzzing with excitement, ready to release all of their energy. You grab onto the controls and poise your foot over the pedals before pushing down, and you speed off in your rocket: fuel burning and sparking, rubber on the hard black asphalt, metal gleaming in the shining sun, your adrenaline spiking. That’s when you hear it. That “ding” of someone interested in your opinion. The “ding” of your crush acknowledging your existence. The “ding” of a message from your closest friend. You know the risks, but what’s five seconds, anyway? You look down, grab the phone, and tap and swipe your life away — “Yea, I’ll be home soon.” You put the phone down and look up just in time to see the telephone pole smash your rocket, lighting the fuel, crumpling the metal, crushing your body. You lied. You never make it home. You looked away from your car — your rocket of metal and fuel and fire and power. And for what? A sound that could have been silenced; a text that could have been ignored or “auto-replied” to; a message from someone who would rather have you safe. You could have turned off the phone or put it on vibrate. You could have even put it in the armrest console or glove compartment, leaving the physical barrier between you and the device as a reminder of the task at hand. But you didn’t. What would happen if an astronaut was distracted during their ascent into space? One wrong move, one missed warning, one single misstep, and the consequences can end in the exact same way: a crash and death. It’s not that crazy of an analogy; your machines have the same level of power, fire, and metal. But if you, the astronaut, are made aware of the consequences and properly trained, maybe you could have avoided this end. Maybe your friends would hear your jokes yet again; your teachers would call on your raised hand next class; and your parents would not have to listen to the beeping of a monitor instead of your laugh for the rest of your life. Make the right choice. Don’t drive distracted.