Itâ€™s coming up on 36 years since we moved here. Thatâ€™s a total of 1,872 weeks. During every one of those weeks, Iâ€™ve driven from my home in East Grand Forks to my church in Grand Forks at least twice. That makes for 3,744 trips down Belmont Road. Most of them have been an uneventful 10 to 12 minutes in the car listening to the radio or a CD.
One trip, however, does stand out â€“ quite vividly.
One day, while tooling down Belmont right about where the big sledding hill is on the left, I happened to look in my rear view mirror. Alas! There was a flashing red light right behind me.
Not a faithful seat belt wearer at the time, I discreetly reached for it, pulled it across my chest. Click! I thought I could pull the wool over that officer’s eyes.
Since I was approaching my turn onto 17th Avenue South when I saw the police car, I went ahead and turned the corner, then pulled over to stop. I stayed put and my heart was beating wildly as the uniform approached my car.
I pushed the power window button and was the first to speak. â€œWas I speeding?â€ I asked the officer. â€œNo Ma’am,â€ he said. â€œYou ran that stop sign back there.â€
The red and white octagon on 13th Avenue South that reads, â€œSTOP?â€ Surely not!
I did not doubt the manâ€™s integrity, but I had never done such a thing before. I must have been deep in thought about something mighty important.
Then the officer had a question for me. â€œAnd Maâ€™am, were you wearing your seat belt this morning?â€
I looked up at him with my baby blues and humbly confessed. â€œNo Sir, I wasnâ€™t. I put it on when I saw your flashing red light.â€
Oh dear. Now I really was in trouble. But what followed was a heartwarming surprise. Without hesitating the young man spoke again. â€œWell, Maâ€™am, I saw you do that and because of your honesty, I’m not going to cite you for not having your seat belt on, but I will have to cite you for running that stop sign.â€
He politely asked for my driverâ€™s license and returned to his car to write me up. There I sat -â€“ alone — to ponder what had just happened.
Once again I realized how very important honesty is. On top of that, this time being so saved me money.
When the officer returned with my ticket and my driverâ€™s license, I asked his name. After all, he knew mine. He quickly reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his business card. On it was his work e-mail address so when I got home I e-mailed him, thanking him for being so gentle and kind to me. He even e-mailed backÂ saying he appreciated my honesty.
Now, every time I approach that stop sign I remember that day and I remember to stop! The experience was a good lesson â€“ on staying alert behind the wheel, on being honest and to always wear my seat belt.