A Remorseful Miss Oblivious...

I am sitting at my kitchen bar with a stack of letters advertising legal services.

I returned this past weekend from a trip to the beach to celebrate my mother-in-law's 80th birthday. I drove. And within hours of leaving home on October 10th, I was stopped by a police officer for speeding in North Carolina. Bummer. Not in my plans. And it took me hours to stop beating myself up mentally.

When I drive the highway for hours, I make a habit (most of the time) of setting my cruise control so I don't have to continually think about my speed. I drive an SUV (a Honda Pilot) and you can easily drive faster than you realize you are driving. On this particular morning, I had gone off of cruise control to pass a few trucks and I was descending a hill. I was listening to Morning Joe on satellite radio and apparently a little distracted by the election discussion. I looked at my speedometer and realized I had gotten up above 80 mph and took my foot immediately off the gas pedal to slow down. But just as I did, I passed the state trooper I hadn't even seen -- who had already clocked me at my peak speed of 88 mph. Way too fast for any kind of explanation to matter. And I knew it.

Nevertheless, I tried to explain that I was only going that speed for a matter of seconds. Not because I really believed I could avoid the citation. But because I didn't want him to think I intentionally drove that fast. I was under no illusion that he believed me. But it was the truth. I certainly cannot say I always drive within the speed limit, but I normally "cruise" only five to seven miles above it on long trips (along with most everyone else). I do not intentionally drive 88 mph EVER. It's not safe. It's not responsible. And I am not looking for trouble!

Despite my remorse, my apologies and my respectful explanation, the officer informed me that the kindest thing he could do was write me a ticket. I should be happy he wasn't arresting me and taking me to jail. Oh, I was grateful he wasn't arresting me. And I thanked him for his kindness (even though this part of the conversation seemed a little extreme). But I was so mad at myself for letting my mind wander from my speed just long enough to have this encounter with law enforcement. I think it might have ruined my whole day if not for the soothing reaction of my sweet husband, who I called and kept on speaker phone while I was receiving my citation. As I pulled back onto the highway, John told me to forget about it and go have a good time at the beach. It took me a while, but eventually I did.

However, I'm thinking about it again as I try to choose an attorney to represent me so I don't have to make a trip to North Carolina to appear in court. I'm still a little mad at myself for my lapse in attention. But it seems like a much smaller "misfortune" today than it did in the moment.

I'm glad I can hire a lawyer to appear for me. I have this genetic condition that compels me to over-explain myself. I'm sure the judge won't care about my intentions, my conscience, or my remorse. I'm not even sure why it matters so much to me to explain that I didn't mean to go that fast and only did for a fraction of a minute. I'm guilty of speeding. I'm not justifying it. And it may be worse that I was going that fast because I wasn't paying attention. I guess in my mind it would be worse if I had done it on purpose. But maybe only in my own mind.

I guess I can appreciate why speeding is such a black and white issue for a state trooper or a judge. They don't just give tickets. They respond to accidents and see what can happen when a driver is distracted or driving too fast. I was fortunate to only get a speeding ticket. It wasn't a tragedy. It was just an expensive reminder that I need to be more careful. I drove much more intentionally and cautiously the rest of my trip because that ticket was so fresh in my mind. Who knows what worse thing God may have protected me from because He did not prevent me from encountering the state trooper in the first few hours of my trip. And this, I believe, is so true of life in general.