What is Drastic + Dramatic

Sunday, January 01, 2012

I Got Pulled Over

Even though I'd had less than four hours of sleep for the entire year, I felt alive enough as I went out to my car this frosty morning and got behind the wheel. I'd had a lot to drink the night before--an Orange Julius from the mall that my blind date, Sam, bought me; then a Jungle Juice at Sam's brother's girlfriend's home (which consisted of a non-alcoholic sparkling drink and a bunch of fruit you skewer out and chew as you sip), two glasses of water to wash down all the "hoity-toity" cheeses and snacks at said home; and finally the shot of Martinelli's sparkling cider to toast midnight. Seriously, Sam and I were drinked out (like drunk, except not).

*I was only driving 4.5 miles up to my mom's house and though my windshield was a bit frosted over, I could see well enough. It was the spotted kind of frost, spread over an otherwise clear windshield. Ignoring the interrupting ice crystals just so, I could put enough of the familiar picture together to transport myself from point A to point B without incident.

really, it was like this. Not that bad, if you asked the 7:40am me.
Hardly a car was in sight as I made my way North, but one distant pair of headlights came closer, turning the same way I had, pulling up close enough behind me that I could make out that blue and red lightbar of a Utah Highway Patrol car. I was going the speed limit, I didn't have any warrants or outstanding tickets, etc. and therefore felt no stress. I wasn't really doing anything wrong, nor do I tend to, so my conscience was void of panic-inducing guilt. I was safe.

Officer UHP got tired of trailing an innocent rear, so he pulled up beside me to see if he might find anything for which he could pull me over. It looked like he might go past me, but then he dropped back and pulled behind me. I knew why. Signaling politely with red and blue waves, the power of the UHP triggered my right blinker. I gave my windshield wipers a kick as I turned onto a side road. That frost wasn't in any hurry to be cleared.

As he approached I started going for my license and registration. I opened my door when he arrived.

"Can you roll down your window first, please?" he reasonably asked.

"It doesn't work," I worked in an apologetic laugh. He nodded with authoritative disappointment.

"Looks like you didn't take the time to clear your windshield this morning," he said.

"I figured I could see well enough," I pathetically protested.

"It looks more than 50% frosted over, you have to scrape it. And is that a crack there? Why haven't you fixed that?"

I shook my head, "No, it's also ice." I saw what he saw, though. A line of uniform crystals formed what looked like a precise crack.

"Oh, it's only ice, okay," he said. "Where are you headed?"

"Home," I say, without really thinking. I was collecting the necessary documents for the officer.

"Did you have anything to drink last night?"

A short laugh puffed from my nose as I said no while at the exact time a picture of Jesus peered from the collection of automotive documents in my hands. The irony in all the elements only hits me now: a good little Christian girl, pulled over on a Sunday for not scraping her windshield, who in fact did drink too much for her own liking the night before (though not in an alcoholic way), and an unblinking Jesus, half-smiling up at her from a sun-faded print of his kind face. He always has a way of involving himself in life's hard moments. And sometimes it's funny.

I have a friend who is an officer, who one time said for church members to never include their temple recommend with those requested documents because it only pisses the officer off. I would never think to actually do that--just because I feel I'm worthy enough to go to a temple doesn't mean I wasn't breaking a rule of the road--but because my officer friend even mentioned that people do do that, and because I like laughing, for half a moment I had the urge to include a brief flash of the Jesus picture in my hands as I organized documents for him. But instead I kept the joke to myself and just laughed when he asked me if I had been drinking. Jesus knew the answer was no. And He also knew I hadn't cleared my windshield for which I was rightfully pulled over. He wasn't about to bail me. I wasn't about to try...

Then I realized my response "home" probably didn't mean to him what it meant coming from my mind, because I had just come from my home and was headed to mom's, which is home in the permanent address sort of way, and was just a really easy one-word response to explain where I was heading. I clarified this so he wasn't under the impression I had been out all night and just now heading home, hung over and clueless . . . no, I was just freaking tired and clueless.

As I handed him my license and registration, I asked, "Is this all you need?" because I couldn't find an insurance card. He told me to keep looking for it as he went back to his patrol car. I sorted through everything but didn't find it. I am insured, but I had no proof of it in my car. This is where tears threatened, because I really didn't want to get in trouble for not having insurance. I hate it when I'm totally legal on something--I have the insurance--but totally unable to verify it because I'm unprepared, without proper proof. It kind of makes me mad at myself, which madness ofttimes pricks the tears.

He came back with my license and handed it to me with a printed warning.

"I'll let you go with a warning this time, but you need to take the time to clear your windshield."

"Okay," I nodded. The tears wouldn't allow my voice to give more. Let me now voice my gratitude through written word, though: UHP officer wherever you are, thank you for letting me go with a warning.

Before I put my license back in my wallet I quickly swiped it across the driver's side of my windshield, clearing the view. The view was remarkably better.

What a way to start the new year out right, right? The words he used, "you need to take the time to clear your windshield," stuck out to me at the time, but do even more so now. Consider the warning heeded! I will take the time, every day this year, to clean my window to the world before I go anywhere.

I don't care how fancy an alternative could be, I want a windshield. And in gratitude I'll take the time to clear it since it affords me necessary protection as I roll along the roads of life.

*Today I shared a summed version of this story as I was teaching a room full of beautiful Relief Society ladies. Our discussion was based on the conference talk Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time Without Delay by José L. Alonso, member of the quorum of the seventy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's a simple, but touching discussion of following the example of our Savior, going, without delay, after those who may be lost in life and not even know it or know how to find help, to comfort and bless in any way we can.

I tied this morning's experience into my lesson, for how we need proper vision to proceed along a path that follows the Savior. I thought my vision was good enough. I didn't want to take the very brief moment to clear my protective windshield to go a short 4.5 miles. I didn't think it would be an issue. Short, quick trip; everyone else was asleep in bed where I wanted to be, not on the road with me, and officer UHP, who reminded me that the point is: obeying the law keeps me safe, even if no one else has anything to do with my obedience.

When we think we've got a plan--be it short or long term--and we think our vision is "good enough," I'm grateful for a God who pulls us over sometimes to remind us to get the bigger picture, to put ourselves in the best position before we head toward our destination. And usually I'm a stickler for clearing my windshield. It only takes a moment. I had felt justified that it wasn't that bad. God had lesson-enhancing plans. For all I'm learning, and for a good story, I'm glad I got pulled over. (Double glad I didn't get a ticket.)

How great is God to give us warnings? Nothing probably would have happened, I would have made it to my mom's without harm to anything around me. But I can't know that for sure. Any small reminder of his care and attention for me is a pleasant one, worth the possible delay, and so worth the new view it gives me, even if it requires me to change.

A windshield is there to protect me, not get me into more trouble. I don't often look at the windshield, I don't see it as I drive unless it's dirty or in need of repair. It's there, but I'm meant to see through it. Too often we take for granted things we see right through that provide daily protection. God, his commandments, his Spirit: these protect and shield me in this high-speed, dangerous world of spiritual confusion. I cannot let the cold and bitter influence of the world frost over my view of the way before me. I cannot afford to be blind in the slightest when I maneuver in this world. Accidents are too costly, they always cause delay, and sometimes pain, injury and death.

Sometimes we have a good enough view of where we think we want to go in life. But if we want to proceed with the confidence of full clarity, we need to take a moment, at the right time, and do the right thing: to pray to God, consult with Him, make ourselves clean, and He will map us the best route (which may still contain strategic delays, who knows) to get us to perhaps an even better destination than the one we set out for.

Involve God when you're steering between point A and B, and you will have His Spirit's clear vision to guide you, a clear sense of His love to comfort and encourage you, His protection and blessings--really a lot of good things. It's more than worth the mere seconds to clear your frosted vision to save you the unknowable delay of being held captive in front of those flashing reds and blues.

1 comment:

Melody said...

You da bomb Emily! I love this.

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