Like the typical American, I get my news from a screen, and usually while eating. Ever the multitasker, I was watching the Today Show during breakfast when I learned of an alarming health hazard that all Americans need to be aware of – keyless ignition. Yes. People are dying because of keyless ignition systems in their cars. How does this happen? I’m glad you asked.
Let’s follow the typical American driver on his way home from work. We’ll call him Sam since there is enough criticism of female drivers in the world. Anyway, Sam gets in his car and drives home from work, where he likely sat at a desk and stared at a screen all day while sucking down liquid candy described as “coffee.” At the end of the day, Sam packed up his laptop and BlackBerry, hopped in the car to talk via his car’s Bluetooth system, oh and drive, because nobody JUST drives anymore. Sam had important life-altering conversations to have that simply could not wait until he was not driving. So, Sam makes the commute, changing lanes without paying attention because the phone conversations take Sam’s attention from, well, driving. After nearly getting into five accidents, Sam arrives home. He pulls into the garage while turning off the radio and answering another call. As Sam gets out of the car, he grabs the laptop bag and the BlackBerry and continues talking. The garage door closes as Sam walks into the house. Sam is glad to be home and changes into sweat pants and an old t-shirt, and opens a beer. Sam settles in for an evening of overeating and TV watching — Olympic events in the USA. He does not have a wife or children, and lives with his dog. While he is sitting on the couch, Sam dies of carbon monoxide poisoning, along with the dog, because he forgot to hit the “off” button before exiting the car.
Sam’s funeral is small, but those who are there talk about what a wonderful person Sam was and how, at 28, he was too young to die. Everyone is horrified that these keyless ignition systems are so dangerous. Most people agree that they should be outlawed because they are so dangerous. Sam’s Aunt Martha contacts the local TV news station and they do a story about the horrors of keyless ignitions.
Blaming keyless ignitions for Sam’s death is like blaming a rock band for someone committing suicide. Oh wait, this has been done too, more than once. I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but here in the good ol’ USA we are always looking for someone or something to blame. If we are fat, we blame fast food. If we are depressed, we blame music. If someone dies because they can’t focus on properly handling a very heavy metal object, like a car, then, it must be the car’s fault.
Sam was an idiot, and he was not alone. There are quite a few idiots in the world and they usually procreate, a lot, or run for a political office. The scary thing is that Sam is not the only person to die from forgetting to turn off an ignition. It made national news. This is frightening, and it makes me wonder what stupid thing people will begin dropping dead from next. Visions of our own future Idiocracy keep me awake at night.
Disclaimer: I originally published this on my old Salon blog a few years ago. Sam is not based on a real person that I actually know, but there are tons of Sams out there. Watch out for them.