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Taking a chance with your life - Kathy Jefcoats

I believe in physical exercise just as much as anyone else but I don't think it is safe to jog, walk or ride a bike along Jonesboro Road during morning rush hour. It may not be safe at any time during the day but certainly it is not in the morning with commuters and school bus drivers fighting each other for every bit of available road space.

One foggy morning not long ago, I passed a jogger and two bicyclists in three separate spots along Jonesboro Road. There is no shoulder for much of the roadway between Fayette and Henry counties – and no sidewalks except at Lovejoy – so these people are in the same lane with vehicles traveling either at the posted 45 mph speed limit or faster. There is so much congestion that when you come upon one of these people you are faced with quite a dilemma. You can slow down to ease around them and risk getting rear-ended. You can swerve to avoid them and risk a head-on collision. Or you can hit the fool.

I wouldn't advise hitting a jogger or bicyclist, no matter how annoying it is to come up on one with little room to maneuver. The question remains, why do they do it? Why do they take their lives in their hands to take to Jonesboro Road for exercise? Not only is it dangerous, it can't be good for your lungs to breathe exhaust fumes from the cars as they whiz by.

Before I can finish pondering those questions, I passed yet another cyclist a few days ago. Morning rush hour, riding along Jonesboro Road. It can't be so hard to find a trail or a track that you have to take to one of the busiest roads in the tri-county area. God forbid someone does hit one of them. The driver will surely be blasted for speeding or not paying attention or losing control of his or her car. Will anyone say the fool should not have been on the road? I doubt it.

I brought up the issue in the newsroom. My colleague, Mike, seems to think as long as the jogger/cyclist is following the rules of the road as they pertain to such activity, he or she has as much right to be there as the cars. I think you have to use some common sense and exercise personal responsibility. You should also consider that half the drivers are heading east – and into the sun – making objects that much harder to see.

Well, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the passings of movie legend Janet Leigh and veteran comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Leigh's performance in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" cemented her place in Hollywood history. When I take a shower I try to not think of that scene. When it does creep into my thoughts, I have to pull open the shower curtain and keep an eye on the door through vision obscured by soap and shampoo. Every little sound is suddenly an armed intruder, possibly dressed as his mother, maybe not, aiming right for me. Makes for short showers.

Dangerfield made me and millions of others laugh with his self-deprecating humor and catch phrase, "I don't get no respect." But I didn't know until he died that he won a Grammy for one of his comedy albums, he got a lifetime achievement honor in 1994 from the American Comedy Awards and his trademark red tie and white shirt are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. I guess he did get some respect after all.

I don't cover sports but I can't help but feel outrage at the sentencing decisions made last week after two professional athletes pleaded guilty in unrelated cases. Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal got his second DUI in four years, which violated his probation from the first arrest. Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis pleaded guilty in Federal Court to using his cell phone to arrange a drug deal for a childhood friend.

Both men were sentenced to jail time, which is suitable for the crimes they've admitted committing. The problem is they are being allowed to serve that time after their respective sport season ends. What? What lesson does that teach them? It's OK to commit a crime because the law will accommodate my work schedule? It's not fair and it sends the wrong message. Furcal and Lewis obviously weren't thinking of their precious careers when they broke the law.

The organizational heads of those teams should have stepped up and declined special treatment. The public would have more respect for them and there would be no question they were treated as equally as any criminal in the same situation.

Kathy Jefcoats covers public safety in Henry County. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at kjefcoats@henryherald.com .