A twenty-seven-year old widow is helping to make it a misdemeanor to drive while talking on a cell phone throughout many North American communities.
Donna Babing, working with the Sierra Club, has also been behind legislation barring cell phone calls on federally owned wetlands.
Ms. Babing’s non-profit corporation, HANG-UP, plans to outlaw the use of cell phones by nannies and babysitters. Ms. Babing has introduced legislation making cell phone use while hunting or skydiving a felony.
Ms. Babing does not allow any kind of phone — cellular or land-based, in her own home. She is quick to ridicule anything having to do with cell phone companies — Sprint data packages, T-Mobile prepaid phone plans, Verizon upgrades, etc.
Visitors are well-advised to leave whatever gadgets they have in the car.
Her residence, in a Great Falls, Montana suburb, seems like a typical American home on a typical American street — except for the miniature homing pigeons, cooing in the background.
The Babing backyard overflows with dozens of wire mesh cages, each the size of a large refrigerator. “I have approximately 2,060 miniature pigeons,” she said.
“They are used when communications is essential. With homing pigeons you don’t even have to worry about call waiting. Unlike Nokia and Motorola products, pigeons are bio-degradable when they wear out.”
The pretty blonde mother of an active two-year-old served me coffee and lemon biscuits in her living room. She apologized for the pungent odor of the bird droppings but she said that some of her “little communicators” had been feeling poorly and she had been nursing several dozen in her back bedroom.
Brushing her ash-blonde hair back and smiling bravely, she said, “Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a handsome young man who loved his family and liked to explore the back roads of America on weekends.”
“One day his wife decided to take a picnic basket to him and so she made his favorite sandwiches on Kaiser buns and baked a strawberry pie and climbed in her SUV. At first she could not find him but she had a cell phone and soon located him.”
“It was a perfect summer day and the birds were singing and the bees were humming. The husband had just discovered a pristine pond. The couple talked on their phones about going for a swim. They realized that their only child had been conceived the last time they had gone skinny-dipping.”
“As they neared each other, both become enthralled by the thought of seeing the other naked in the sunlight.”
“Tragically, they were so caught up in their cell conversation, the wife did not see her husband walking down the shaded road and he did not see her hurtling toward the back of his head in her five-ton SUV.”
“The woman ran over the man she loved and killed him deader than a doornail. The impact of the collision drove his cell phone deep into his brain so that not even the most skillful mortician could restore his face and the wife had to have a closed coffin at his funeral.”
“That woman was me.”
I thanked Donna Babing and as the pigeons flapped around her ears, I gathered up my notes and left to write the awful ending of their marriage.
Donna was the 127th wife to run over and kill her husband while both were talking to each other on cell phones this year.
Donna asked me to include this note in any article about her: “Please, Dear Reader (especially if you are a woman in a really big SUV), please — don’t use your cell phone while operating your vehicle as I did.”