Today I broke the law…
I didn’t mean to, but it happened.
Even as I write, my stomach is turning, and I. feel. sick.
I hate breaking the law!
Now wait a minute, Leslie… Let’s just stop the story right there. Rewind.
law the breaking hate I!
Okay, what I really mean is that I hate getting into trouble with the law. This is true. I’ve never been in “trouble” with the law. My first and only speeding ticket was at the age of 16. I had only been driving for a few weeks and was speeding thru a neighborhood to get to my high school musical rehearsal. Really important stuff worth speeding for. I got a ticket. I had the same sick-to-my-stomach feeling. Lesson Learned.
When we lived in New York City, we were pulled over once with no idea why… Sure, during our years of driving in NYC, we paid our fair share in parking tickets. But that was by choice. To avoid parking garage fees of $450 a month, we took chances, drove around for hours, sat in our car during street cleaning and paid an average of $100 a month in parking tickets instead. Brilliant. But on this particular day, the Officer approached our car so that he could test the window tint on our awesome 2001 Ford Focus. He had some gadget that tested the tint, to ensure it was not over 25%. Ours was at 19%. Whew! We passed. Can we go now? Not. So. fast. The Officer still kept us pulled over while he took his sweet time “testing” all of our windows, reminding us the tint could not be over 25% – which it wasn’t – while we both grew extremely agitated as we waited in the car knowing we were well under the limit, until finally he came over to my window. I rolled it down and… BOOM! All of sudden the Officers perspective changed. He could see that I was 9 months pregnant and in no mood to mess around, so he “quickly tested” my window and let us go on our merry way.
I have never been in any accidents where I was at fault. In 19 years of driving, I’ve done a 360 when my wheels slipped in the pouring rain, crossing 4 lanes of traffic and miraculously landing in the median, without hurting myself or causing a wreck for anyone else. I’ve been sideswiped by a truck which was being chased by the police for robbery. I’ve been crashed into at a stop sign and rear ended at a stop light by negligent drivers. And once… I was pulled over on Long Rd. after coming to Adam’s rescue when his truck ran out of gas. The first Officer who arrived at the “scene” was someone we know from our church. Leaving Adam in his capable care, I pulled out from behind his truck. After I pulled in front of Adam’s truck to head home, the second officer approaching the scene passes me, and then whips around to pull me over. As I was driving away, I realized Adam had possibly left his wallet in my car, which he needed for the tow truck. So, I pulled into the entrance of a neighborhood up the road from Adam’s stranded truck, began to rummage thru his bag looking for his wallet, and look up to see the 2nd Officers lights blaring in my rear view mirror. He then approached my car and asked me for my license and registration. I’m thinking – What the…?!? Your pulling me over???
“Sir I just left my husband, he’s just a few hundred yards behind us. He was stranded without gas and now I’m heading back home.”
“I just need your license and registration.”
He didn’t “care” about my story, or the fact that our wee Babs were sleeping in the back seat, even though I had woken them up to come and “rescue daddy” at 11pm on a Tuesday night.
In the meantime, as he is checking my pristine license and registration record, he must’ve also communicated with the first Officer at the scene – who we know – who must’ve talked him into “letting me go”.
But first, He came back to my car and listed the reasons he had pulled me over:
1. I pulled out into oncoming traffic (which was his car, btw) and there was PLENTY of space for me to pull out from behind Adam’s truck, and get in front of his truck before the Officer passed me. Apparently, it was supposed to be at least 500 feet… well, I didn’t have my measuring tape handy, but from the distance of his headlights, I had plenty of space… maybe it was 450 feet?
2. I pulled into a neighborhood entrance with the intention to complete an illegal u-turn. What the…??? At this point, I was becoming extremely angry. But I held my tongue. Nope, Officer. I pulled over to check and see if my husband left his wallet in my car.
At this point, he didn’t have any further evidence, so he “let me go”. How Nice.
For the most part, I’ve been a law abider.
But today was different. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t set out to. But today I broke the law.
I pulled into a handicapped parking spot to wait with the wee Babs in the van, while Adam ran into a store “real quick”. I knew it was wrong when I did it. There’s no excuse.
After waiting for a few minutes, perusing the latest news on Facebook and handing out snacks to the kids, a police car drives up and slows down as it passes the spot where I was parked.
I quickly jumped into gear, put the car in reverse and start backing up – just in time for the policeman to complete his circle around the parking lot and catch me trying to flee the scene.
Too late. I was caught. Illegally parked.
“Miss, do you have a Handicapped sticker for your vehicle?”
“No sir. I was just getting ready to leave.” (mmm hmm, he’s thinking – yea right lady, likely story)
“Are you aware there is a $287 fine for parking here illegally?”
“Yes sir, I know. I was giving my kids some snacks (and I conveniently left out the waiting on my hubby part) and was getting ready to leave.” (yes, I was sticking by that story)
“Okay, you could’ve done that over there.”
“Yes sir, I know. I’m sorry.”
At this point he nodded and “let me go” with a warning. Whew!
Here’s the point when I start to freak out. I reverse out of the illegal spot and drive down the lot into another – legal – spot, and immediately text Adam “Come On!!!”
A few moments later, Adam emerges from the store and begins walking toward our van. I start driving toward him to pick him up. At the same time, I notice the Policeman circling around our way again (he totally wasn’t letting this go). As we start driving again, he stops in the parking lot next to us and rolls down his window; I stop driving and roll down mine.
Officer: “So you weren’t really giving your kids snacks, you were waiting on him to get out of a store.”
Me: “No, I really was giving them snacks and was getting ready to move my car (as soon as I saw you coming), while we were waiting on him.”
“We’ve had a lot of problems with people parking illegally in these spots and the Sheriff has us cracking down on this.”
“I understand. I know it was wrong.”
“If it was the Sheriff, he would’ve given you a ticket for sure.”
“Yes, I understand. I know it was wrong to park there. I understand.”
“Okay, I will let you go with a warning. You folks have a nice day.”
I rolled up my window and started breathing again. As soon as I caught my breath, I was able to explain the whole story to Adam. I felt sick to my stomach for the next half hour. As I was getting over my nausea, Adam chimed in, “Doesn’t that Officer have anything better to do?”
The Truth Is – I broke the law. No excuses. I was caught in the act. I was Guilty.
But I wasn’t charged.
Sure, there have been times in the past 35 years, when I have experienced that “Life is not Fair”.
But as I walk with Jesus, even when I am in the wrong ~ I am not charged. Everyday, I experience His extension of Grace and Mercy, the Holy Spirit’s sweet conviction in my sin, and the Lord as my Shepherd ~ forever leading me back to walk His path ~ not my own.
I broke the law today… And, I learned about more of God’s unfailing love for me in the process. It was totally worth it.