Buzz. The vibration in my pocket was all too familiar. I pulled my phone from my jeans out of habit.
It was work, and it was urgent.
The Manwaring Center faded from my consciousness as I went on autopilot. The hecklers trying to make me sign up for whatever sport or student association were now background noise.
My phone had seized not only my attention but my entire mental capacity. That is, until I had to look up. I was already outside but surrounded.
Instead of moving out of my way, a group of people encircled me. I mumbled a few “sorry, excuse me’s.” When I tried to leave the group, someone grabbed my elbow.
He clasped my captive hand. I was a limp fish. I followed his arm. Black suit. White shirt. Tie. An incredible resemblance of the turtle costume in “The Master of Disguise.” No, it looked like President Eyring.
It was Henry J. Eyring, president of BYU-Idaho.
He said something, but I was too caught up in the horror of what was happening that I merely muttered, “Yeah, you too.” Hopefully, it wasn’t a question.
Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, the men in black left, leaving me dazed and confused.
Texting and driving is illegal. It is pretty clear why this is so dangerous. In a moment, a kid can jump out in the street or the car in front of you can brake.
But I always felt like I could text and walk. I thought I was still aware of my surroundings. When I bumped into President Eyring, I realized just how inebriating texting and walking could be.
According to the National Security Council, there were 7,450 total traffic and non-traffic pedestrian deaths in 2017. Most of these types of accidents are a result of distracted driving and walking.
“Walking without paying proper attention to our surroundings can put everyone’s safety at risk,” according to the NSC.
The NSC provides a few ways to prevent pedestrian accidents. Here a few:
1. Don’t text and walk.
2. Don’t wear headphones while walking.
3. Don’t rely on cars (or other pedestrians) to stop or move out of the way.
I would love to be able to shrug this event off as an unfortunate coincidence, but this was 100% preventable. Meeting President Eyring was an honor, I just wish I’d had a better first impression.