Monday, June 23, 2008

A GodStop

Umm . . . I got a speeding ticket today. Only the second-ever ticket in my 37 years of driving. I mention that record, hoping it shows I'm not habitually prone to rubber-burning Dukes of Hazzard car stunts. In fact, I tend to be a real "rules," person--check my pillows: every one has its "do not remove under penalty of law" tag. And, heaven knows, as an ER nurse I saw WAY too many tragic results from traffic accidents.

But then, I did deserve this speeding ticket. Evidenced by the fact that when I spotted the city police car parked along the freeway access road, I immediately felt that gut-level "uh oh" feeling. Followed by the discreet braking symptom, and then the hopeful bargaining self-talk symptom ( "that nice young officer's pulling out behind you just to be sure you're driving safely . . . because you remind him of his wonderful and saintly mother . . . ) combined with the one eyeball on the rearview mirror symptom, which all slid right into . . . the flashing blue light Moment of Truth. Busted!

The officer began by politely asking,"Do you have a reason for exceeding the speed limit?"

"No, sir," I responded. And quickly added, "And I'm glad you're doing this--people drive too fast around here." Except that I never quite believed I was one of those "people." Now I have proof in writing.

As the officer handed me back my license (along with the ticket), he said, "Have a safe day."

So, I slunk slowly home--very slowly--and confessed to hubby that I'd just received a traffic citation while speeding home from . . . Bible study. Seriously.

But as I reviewed my options: pay the (BIG) fine, appear in court and contest the ticket (except that I was guilty and I don't lie), or attend traffic school . . . suddenly the bigger truth strikes me. And it was right there, all along, in the officer's departing statement, "Have a safe day." The truth: I was speeding, and instead of getting into an accident where I could have injured somebody, I got a ticket. And, undoubtedly, a lesson I'll remember. A reminder to be safe--to keep other people safe. To be responsible. I'm choosing to consider that a good thing. Even a blessing.

Which makes me sound like that famous young actress who recently( and effusively) thanked the police for arresting her during a drug buy. Insisting they did her a huge favor by keeping her from falling back into a terrible lifestyle. People everywhere (including me, admittedly) thought it was a pretty clever way of "handling things" and "looking good" in a bad situation.

But now, ticket in hand, I'm re-thinking my reaction to her uncharacteristic response. Maybe she did mean that. Maybe she is grateful. Maybe she thought long and hard about what the alternatives could have been. And learned something that will keep her (and her loved ones) safer and more secure.

At Bible study class we're doing Beth Moore's "Believing God". Part of the daily homework is to take a moment at the end of the day and note where you may have seen God working in your life that day. Basically, count your blessings. She calls it a "GodStop." So far I've noted things like finding inspiration during my writing on a particular day, seeing the awesome
Painted Buntings at our backyard feeder, and a recent afternoon of langor spent canoe-ing with my husband on the tranquil, green Guadalupe River.

Today I'm signing up for Traffic School and preparing to pay a hefty fine for my error.

But tonight . . . I'll be listing that speeding ticket as a God Stop. A reminder to slow down, be safe . . . and, always, count my blessings.


Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, very interesting. I almost got a ticket the other day but the officer kindly gave me a warning. Boy was I relieved. But I'm not like you. I have a bad history of being an unsafe driver.
Nice to see that you put a positive spin on it. :-)
Your take is so true.

CandaceCalvert said...

So I won't be seeing you in Traffic School, then? ;-)

Seriously, I'm thinking we were both blessed with good reminders.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, and all the best with your own writing journey, Jessica. :-)