I Almost Got Hit By a UPS Truck. Here’s What It Made Me Think About.

I received a stern lesson in “Being Present” yesterday. Modern technology is wonderful but also toxic in its ability to lure us into stupid behaviors in exchange for highly dubious conveniences.

Here’s the story. I was walking up the sidewalk along Minna Street looking at my phone. It was about 2:30 pm on a Monday. I was trying to reply to unimportant emails during my walking time. I stepped off the curb. A loud horn followed by the sound of screeching tires tore me away from the glowing screen . I looked up. A UPS truck loomed above me. The truck’s front tire was perhaps three feet from my left foot. The driver shook his head disdainfully. I felt ashamed and stupid as I hurriedly hopped back onto the curb and put the phone back into my bag.

My behavior was no different from that of tens of thousands of people in the Bay Area who walk while texting,emailing and browsing. I doubt I would have died if I had been struck. The truck was not moving that quickly. But I certainly could have ended up with a broken leg and a long convalescence, neither of which I wished for.

We all get these stark moments of clarity too rarely. As I stared at the trucks dark windshield and brown metal body I counted my blessings — my children, my wife, my charmed life, my time in the water surfing, — and I marveled at my uncontrolled willingness to put that all to risk to answer an unimportant email in pursuit of the elusive and false god of hyper-efficiency.

Sometimes the most efficient thing is to do less, live longer, and be here,now. Cliched but very true for me today as I walk up Minna Street and savor the people around me, the buildings, the smells, the sky, the air, and the phone remains in my bag.

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