Oh God….. I got pulled over this morning. I felt both helpless and humiliated. What did I do to deserve these bright lights in my mirror? It became clear as the officer tapped on the windshield of my car that the inspection sticker was the culprit.
I fumbled around for my paperwork, finally handing him all my information. He told me to stay seated and walked back to his car (see picture above). The longer it took, the more I found myself becoming defensive. Was it a slow day in the criminal world? Had I really let my fellow man down by not inspecting my 16 month old car? I was causing no harm to anyone. I have a clean driving record. The officer made a risky u-turn at high speed to get me – this is ridiculous.
The officer walked back to my window. I swallowed hard, but accepted my punishment in the form of a yellow carbon slip and a $111 fine. I was told how to pay the fine and he asked if I had any questions?
Yes I had questions, lots of them! My ego wanted to let loose a barrage of “What the heck were you thinking?”… but the rest of me knows better. I decided to focus on trying to live up to what I learned on the Trust Tour. I needed to be kind (kind is different than nice), even though it was a confrontation. I needed to build trust, even though it may last only a short while.
So… I thanked him for my ticket, (that was hard) then asked him if I could make a statement? He agreed. I told him that I loved America and I am concerned about what is happening in our country. I am concerned about fairness being lost in personal greed and our liberties being taken away in the name of safety. I told him I felt pulling me over for an inspection was not warranted, at best it should be a secondary offense. His reply was stern; he felt it was a poor choice to be talking about politics and I assumed that it was going to be the end of the conversation. But he kept talking, seemingly needing to say more but feeling confined. He said something about his commanding officer declaring today to be a “compliance day” and his job was to look for paper violators like me (my translation – the department needed to raise money). We went on for a short while and I got a little deeper understanding of who he was. I was starting to believe if he was out of uniform, we might have a surprisingly similar view of the world. When we were done talking, he shook my hand wishing me a better second half of the day. He assumed he had ruined the first half and would have been right if I had not “upgraded” my approach.
In summary, I take responsibility for not having an up-to-date inspection sticker (had the car in for service yesterday!!). I will pay my fine and get the car inspected. More importantly, however, I am reminded to keep making my life more enjoyable, interesting and valuable by working towards building trust with as many people as possible. I am not naive to the dark side, greed is ever present. Rather, I am choosing to respond in a way that makes me feel good about my life and who I am, lighting people up whenever possible.
As I began to pull away from the scene, I looked at the police lights still present in my mirror and it struck me… this is a great metaphor for life. Someday we are all going to “pull away” from life and when we do, what will we be seeing in the mirror? What did we leave behind? Wouldn’t it be great, in the end, as we pull away, we see the bright lights of all the people we lit up and unlike my experience this morning, you will know exactly what you did to deserve them!