To the police officer that gave me a ticket...thank you
Sunday morning. Quiet. Calm. It might have been one of the first times I was driving my little girl around without my wife in the car. Just daddy and daughter on the way to church.
I was meeting my wife so she could feed the baby. She had to be to church a little earlier, so it was my job to dress baby Seidl and get her to her breakfast appointment. But I misinterpreted the time I was supposed to arrive for said breakfast appointment.
"Hurry!" the text from my wife said. So I did.
Then I saw the read and blue lights. I looked down at my speedometer. 50. Dang it! The speed limit was 40.
Here's where I'll say I wasn't intentionally speeding. It wasn't a conscious, let-me-see-how-I-can-push-the-limits thing. But knowing that I was in a time crunch and also trying to pay extra attention to the baby in the backseat meant I just got lazy. I wasn't dialed in.
The officer was originally heading the opposite way and quickly pulled a u-turn. I knew it right away. I've never been pulled over for speeding, and thus I've never gotten a speeding ticket. This was foreign territory.
I pulled over and Officer Bill walked up. He was probably in his late 50s with way too brown of hair for a man his age. Good for him. His voice and tone, though, sounded like he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. Very matter-of-fact, monotone, and a little Eeyore-like.
"I clocked you going 50 in a 40," he said, in a singsongy way. He asked me a couple questions and took some notes. I noticed the paper he was writing on was a pamphlet titled, "Understanding Your Citation." As soon as I saw that, I knew there wasn't any hope of getting out of this one.
He returned to his SUV and that's when I started to get mad.
Can't he see I have a baby in the car?
Why didn't he even ask me where I was going?
I wasn't even trying to speed!
Doesn't he realize I like the police? That I've never been pulled over for speeding?
I'm one of the most cautious drivers there is. My wife even calls me "grandpa" because I drive so slow. I DON'T DESERVE THIS TICKET.
He walked back up to the window and handed me my ticket. $167. Now I was really mad. And just like that he sent me on my way.
This is ridiculous, I thought. I started to throw blame.
Why did my wife tell me to hurry?
Why didn't he just give me a warning?
He must be a jerk.
Did I mention that I've never gotten a speeding ticket!?
I'm a great driver.
Because certainly I wasn't responsible for the ticket. It wasn't my fault that I was speeding. You can probably see where this is going.
As I continued driving, I began to realize how ridiculous I sounded. I wanted to blame everyone but myself. My wife. The cop. My baby for not being cute enough to get me out of the ticket. (OK, maybe not that last one.) But I wasn't willing to look at myself and accept responsibility.
That's when I had the epiphany: Who's the real jerk in this scenario?
It quickly became obvious that I needed that ticket. I needed to do some searching.
So to Officer Bill who pulled me over and showed me no grace, thank you. You helped reveal my lack of responsibility. You showed that no matter how hard I try to be perfect, I can't be. You hurt my pride, and it needed to be hurt.
So how about this, officer: I vow to do my part to make sure I never give you the chance to do it again.
After all, that's my responsibility. Not anyone else's.
This post also appears on iamsecond.com.