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Drivers really get my goat

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Are you one of those people who never seem to have enough time in a day? Do you wonder how you can possibly get everything done?

Hey, stupid, do what millions of Americans are doing: Do them in the car.

You are wasting valuable time while you drive. Like dozens of other Americans, you have failed to realize all the important things you can do behind the steering wheel besides getting from Point A to Point B. Instead of concentrating on silly things such as watching where you're going or stopping for pedestrians or steering, you can talk on the phone, brush your teeth, write letters or pick zits (what do you think the rearview mirror is for?). Or floss.

Take, for example, the time-conscious woman I recently encountered on a busy road in Salt Lake City. She was in the car ahead of me and didn't see the light change until someone honked. This scene repeated itself at the next two lights. When I was finally able to pull alongside her, I could see why she didn't see the light change. This resourceful young lady was flossing her teeth, with the rearview mirror about 4 inches from her face. In heavy morning traffic.

Naturally, I was mad: Why didn't I think of that?! I wasted all that time in the bathroom, when I could have been driving. The car is a great place to perform personal hygiene. While driving and flossing, you can kill two birds with one stone, or two people with one car, whatever.

For all I know Miss Floss also fixed herself pancakes and sausage in the car, too, and picked out her day's ensemble.

Distraction, disschmaction. This lady, like millions of others, has time-management skills. Americans get many things done while driving these days. From behind the wheel, racing down the freeway, they can do needlepoint, learn a foreign language, take a second job in telemarketing, practice guitar, call their probation officer, whatever.

While swerving out of harm's way, I have seen many inspiring examples of busy drivers. Forget cell phones; we're talking world-class performers here, people who can drive a car, play chess, eat a Happy Meal, do their tax returns and make obscene gestures to the guy in the next lane, all at the same time.

Utah legislators are considering banning cell-phone use in cars, but that's just a basic, rookie-level skill. The veterans of the road are the drivers who read stock reports and apply mascara while driving with their knees. Sometimes they do it in the wrong lane, but where's the harm when you believe you're the last human being left on the planet?

Howard Reynolds, vice president of the Pride Transport trucking firm, says his company's drivers "have pretty much seen everything on the highway." For instance:

Removing hair curlers. Typing on laptop computers. Watching TV. Applying makeup. Crimping eyelashes. Sex. Flashing. Shaving. Drivers and passengers trading seats. Disciplining children. Eating. Brushing teeth. Getting dressed. Changing clothes ("Not just a sweater, but the whole outfit," says Reynolds). Manicures. Reading books and newspapers.

"We're amazed by what we see," says Reynolds. "They cause trucks to stop or shift loads or swerve, and they never even know it because they're so oblivious."

Speaking of distractions, I was recently driving on I-15, staring straight ahead, when my wife looked up from her book and casually noted, "Look, a goat." A black goat was traveling 75 miles per hour down the freeway tied to a flatbed trailer in a standing position, legs splayed, eyes as big as dinner plates, his little goatee plastered to his chin.

That's dumb, I thought — they didn't even give him goggles. Anyway, the goat was not a distraction for the driver pulling the trailer, but it was a distraction for me. I had to quit writing this column to check out the road-surfing goat.


Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. E-mail drob@desnews.com .