I’ve been on the fence about sharing this story–where, and how, and if.
It’s not really an impression I want to leave you with, and it’s so simple to explain that I’m taking Soeren to visit my grandmother this week. And even if I tell you more of the truth, the easy thing is to tell it funny.
I can tell you about our late departure from Lawrence on an afternoon the week before Thanksgiving. I can describe trying to make it all the way to Cheyenne to avoid the hell that is a hotel room in western Kansas with Si and Ren. I can tell you about the dry pavement, the absence of anyone else even on the road, the clear, starry night. I can share that we were making excellent time to Wyoming, and that we shared a laugh with a sheriff who seemed truly reluctant to write me a ticket . . . but then it turned out my driver’s license was back home in Lawrence, sitting in the center console of my car (we drove Craig’s.)
Not laughing? I can’t bring myself to make the jokes any more. I also could not look myself in the eye if I contested this ticket.
Friends, I was going 94 miles an hour. My husband was in the passenger seat. Our two sleeping children were in the back.
The truth is, speeding is my vice. I never thought of it this way . . . I never thought of it much at all, actually, except occasionally to complain about the unreasonable-seeming speed limits on various roads. I have places to be, you see. And I could get there so much FASTER without these inconvenient restrictions. And yes, it’s expensive. But mostly only if you get caught.
In the meantime, my tendency to speed has caused familial concern and quips (Craig has joked that my title upon ordination should actually be “Reverend Leadfoot”)–but nothing has happened to convince me that I should observe posted speed limits. In fact, I’m not sure this ticket would have either. Not for the long term.
And then, in passing on FB, I saw this clip in my newsfeed a few weeks ago. I’m not sure which of you shared it; it doesn’t matter. I knew just reading the tag line that it was for me. I don’t mean that you particularly intended for me to see it. I mean that the universe did.
The spot hit home, and devastatingly, as I knew from the second I saw it that it would. In fact, I read an article about the PSA series and what they were trying to accomplish with it before I watched the clip. Because I was stalling. Because I didn’t want to see.
Once I did watch, I knew that change was coming. (I hope you’ll watch it, too; it’s embedded below this post. But in case I haven’t convinced you, I’ll give you what you need to know. It’s not graphic at all, and yet is utterly soul-searing. It’s two drivers. One is speeding. The other has made a momentary mistake of judgment. They are suddenly standing outside of their cars, talking. Trying to negotiate. Trying to change things. But it’s just too late. There is a child, about Soeren’s age, in the back of one of the cars . . . we watch his face, and his father’s, as everyone realizes that there is nothing to be done at this pont. The take home message is that if you can’t find a reason in your own driving, in your own family, to slow down, then perhaps what will register is that sometimes other people make mistakes.)
I’ve spent the intervening weeks in Chicago, not driving, and that has given me some time and space to think.
For instance, I have thought–believe me–of calling Kit Carson County to plead my case. I’m a mom of two, driving 400 miles into a snowstorm to appear in court for a speeding ticket–is there any possibility of a diversion? I’d laugh, apologize, ask for understanding and a larger fine.
It might be successful. I don’t know . And I won’t know. I am not going to do it.
Instead, we went this morning to rent a car with 4-wheel drive. The “midsize SUV” I reserved turned out to be a Suburban XL, in black. We are not making this easy.
I realize that this may not seem like much of a story for a post this dramatic. I was driving really fast and . . . someone told me to stop it.
Herein lies the grace, however–and it’s that grace, that possibility of a resurrected future, the kind you get to claim BEFORE you lose it–that leads me to share this with you. I am driving to Colorado for me. But I am telling this story for you. I made a mistake, in a larger pattern of mistaken thinking, and NOTHING HAPPENED. Thank you, God, for this blessing and this opportunity.
I don’t believe in penance, but I do believe in learning through action. That means we become different by being differently in our spaces, relationships, and routines.
Know, then, that if you see a large black SUV on I-70 today driving slowly and officially, it’s not the secret service. It’s me, practicing skills to keep my kids safe . . . and yours, too.