Upon arrival, we made a bee-line for the Ford Motor Car Company exhibit to see what the cars of The Future would look like.
In the 21st century, Ford told us, American-made cars would dominate the world.
They’d zoom at 75 mph along a massive connection of complex highways that would get Mom & Dad & the Kids anywhere in the country virtually traffic free.
Cars would have fins and look like rocket ships. Satellites would guide your Ford car with directions to grandma’s house. From your car telephone you could call anywhere in the world. And gas would always be about 30.9 cents a gallon.
But the single thing that impressed this 11 year-old from Brooklyn the most was a TV in our car.
The thought of being able to watch “My Mother The Car” on car trips was more excitement than I could bear. Who cared about my dad getting us lost yet again, if I could be watching “Get Smart” on long Sunday trips to Long Island to visit my Rosentraub family cousins.
And for Bernie Novick, the most impressive feature was having a phone in the car. This way, he could call my Uncle Philly to let him know we’d be late ‘cause we were lost yet again.
“Are driving you on the Belt Parkway or the BQE?”, my Uncle Philly would yell in to the phone.
As Dan Qualye said, “The future will be better tomorrow.”
Just not in New Jersey.
Flash forward to 2007: Gas is over $3.00 a gallon. During rush hour, we don’t so much ‘zoom along’ the Turnpike as ‘creep along’. Kids in the backs of Japanese-made mini-vans can watch Shrek The Third over and over again.
But if my dad, gets lost in New Jersey, can’t call or text message my Uncle Philly to let him know we're gonna be late. Not without incurring the wrath of the New Jersey State Police.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer from last week:
The state Assembly and Senate are expected today to approve legislation that would allow police to pull over and ticket drivers for talking on handheld cell phones or text messaging on the road.Yup. The state has ratcheted up the penalties on text messaging and cell phoning in the car while driving in NJ. And made it a primary, rather than secondary offense. I guess it makes sense.
Most of the people I know from NJ politics are always calling or texting from their cars.
“I can get lots more work done in the car that way,” one of them told me. And he’s a guy I know from the PoliticsNJ List of the Top 100 Most Powerful Pols. Probably got there as a function of deals he was able to cut while driving in the car on the cell phone.
The bill would make New Jersey the first state to make cell phone use and texting while driving primary offenses, meaning drivers could be pulled over for doing either.
So, if you’re lost on the NJ Turnpike with your kids and you’re trying to call your Uncle Philly to get directions, wear a headset. Or call hands free.
Or the next cell or text message you may receive may be from that State Trooper near Turnpike Exit 14 stating, “Pull over”.